An occasional series in Sunday’s Lifestyles section has put the spotlight on a successful, effective charity in the area.

Ashland Animal Rescue Fund was begun in 2009 by Dave Gillum, an animal lover who decided to use his retirement time to help animals in need.

He and his daughter began rescuing dogs from the Boyd County Animal Shelter — dogs he thought, with a little help, could become adoptable and find a happy home.

AARF has become an efficient organization, with fundraising efforts that include an annual Spay-Ghetti Dinner, Howl-i-Day dinner, online auctions, a resale shop with regular times, collection drives to get supplies and other sources of funds.

AARF also has adoption events at its kennel at 12365 Kevin Drive in the Paul Coffey Industrial Park and at sites in the community.

The organization has partnered with North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York, to help get animals adopted and volunteers make several trips a year north to areas of the country where spay/neuter laws have made strays much more rare than they are in Kentucky.

Animals aren’t just handed over to anyone with the price of adoption. Potential pet owners must fill out an application, which AARF checks out, including references.

Volunteers run the organization and many serve as foster parents; many of those foster parents eventually give the animals in their care a “furever” home, too.

But AARF has had many successful adoptions. Two noteable ones:

• Taylor Cyrus, a nutritionist who had lost her feline of six years, surprised herself when she adopted Oprah, a beagle with a weight problem.

“There was something about her, so cute, so chunky,” Cyrus said. “I just teared up. I just knew she was meant to be mine. She just looks so goofy and funny.”

In short order, Cyrus’ care had Oprah on her way to a new figure: With exercise, portion control and diet food, Oprah lost 20 pounds.

• Volunteers rejoiced when Tupac, a pit bull-terrier mix, was adopted by Flatwoods native Kelly Hood. Tupac had been at the shelter longer than any other dog.

“Just because he’s part pit bull, (people) put that stigma on him. They are bred to be family dogs,” AARF Executive Director Cathy Queen said.

The story of Tupac, now known as Tucker, is explained further on today’s Lifestyles page.

If the treatment of animals is a gauge of a person’s character and of society, Ashland Animal Rescue Fund makes us all look good.

We applaud the mission of AARF and all the volunteers who make the organization work so well to help mostly abandoned animals in their care.

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