In 2007, Michelle Ingrodi suffered a bad breakup. So, she did what many do in that situation and decided to get a dog. After exploring a couple of adoption agencies, she discovered the option of fostering.
"I fostered a puppy and, a week later, it got adopted," she said. "I loved it and wanted to do it again."
So she took out an ad on Craigslist saying that she could foster pets. Eventually, she quit her day job at a veterinarian's office and became a full-time foster mom for animals.
Today, her nonprofit, Charm City Animal Rescue (CCAR) has a simple mission—to rescue and provide new homes for as many abandoned, stray, and neglected animals as possible. She also gets the animals spayed and neutered at the Maryland SPCA, pictured. Ingrodi fulfills this mission solely using donations from fundraisers and her own hard work.
"There is no paycheck that could compare to how gratifying this is," she says. "I'm providing these animals with a new chance at life."
When Ingrodi first started, she was taking in animals off the street, and paying for veterinary costs out of pocket. About a year in, Ingrodi got in touch with Jen Swanson, the executive director of the Baltimore Humane Society, who started spearheading fundraisers for CCAR.
"Not only did she help me raise all kinds of money," Ingrodi says, "but she helped grow my Facebook page by triple because she knows so many people."
Since then, Ingrodi has seen her fair share of suffering animals—from dogs living in an abandoned building for several years to a kitten stuck in a fence with a ruptured pelvis and severed leg. This year alone, she has rescued a total of 284 animals and adopted 193 of them out so far.
When we interviewed Ingrodi, she personally had two dogs and eight cats living with her in Canton. She also explained that she was financially responsible for 90 animals, who are being fostered by others or are receiving medical care. Ingrodi one day hopes to have a facility or storefront to house all the adoptable animals.
"This rescue mission has pretty much consumed my life," she says. "I don't date, I don't shop, all I do is rescue. But it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done."