Comforting Animals with Care
In 2003, Eileen and Brad Smulson adopted a 4-month-old poodle terrier mix named Ginger from a rescue group. Ginger is doing great and still acts like a pup. Five years later during a cold windy day in January, Eileen went with a friend to a newly built multimillion dollar shelter and saw dogs shivering on the cement floor.
Eileen couldn’t picture Ginger lying frightened and sad on a cold, hard, cement shelter floor. She wanted to make sure every homeless animal had warmth and comfort by having a blanket to snuggle in while they awaited adoption into a forever home. This epiphany inspired her to create the nonprofit Operation Blankets of Love (OBOL).
Fortunately, Eileen had extensive experience with nonprofits and special events. She wanted to use her knowledge and skills to help save shelter animals. While she knew nothing about the animal rescue world, she set out to learn about animal welfare and how to reach out to the animal lovers who cared enough to help her in her mission. She also learned that 4 to 5 million shelter animals get euthanized annually because of shelter overpopulation. Animal rescues are also strapped for cash and unable to provide essential supplies.
Eileen resolved to spread the word about the animals’ suffering and shed light on the fact that shelters have no budget for bedding or any other kind of comfort. She had learned and wanted to let the public know that studies show and experts agree that providing shelter animals with blankets and comfort items helps to calm them. When animals feel safe, secure, warm and comfortable, they are happier and this increases their chance for adoption.
OBOL’s mission is to improve the well-being of homeless animals and increase chances for survival and adoption by providing donated recycled and new comfort items to homeless animals housed in shelters.
Eileen handles the management, fundraising and outreach of the OBOL nonprofit, while her husband of 28 years, Brad, runs the operations of OBOL and makes certain sufficient supplies are ready to donate to the more than one thousand animals they help each month. Starting with three donation drop offs, OBOL has grown to include more than 60. Many of the drop-off locations are in Ventura County.
Since its inception, OBOL has collected over 4 million items, from new and gently used blankets and towels to every type of pet item: food, treats, beds, toys, shampoos, vitamins, flea meds, harnesses, collars, leashes, clothes, dog igloos, cat trees, crates and more.
OBOL also teaches Humane Learning Education Programs to schools and youth groups. Their Anti-Cruelty campaign creates greater community awareness about the plight of abused and neglected animals, while improving quality of life for thousands of homeless, vulnerable cats and dogs each year.
OBOL is like the Red Cross of the animal rescue world, filling the constant need of animal shelters and rescues for comfort and care items that are not covered by their general operating budgets. OBOL’s services have expanded to include assistance with animal relocation to no-kill shelters. By improving homeless animals’ quality of life, OBOL helps the animals become more outgoing and affectionate, leading to increased adoptability and reduced euthanasia.
To learn more about OBOL, visit OperationBlanketsofLove.org or call 818.402.6586.