A new sign, donated by an anonymous benefactor, may bring greater visibility to Operation Adopt on Magnolia Boulevard, but its "golden ticket" is the big storefront window where passersby can look in and see dogs and cats up for adoption, the shop's management said this week as an electrician prepared to put the final touches on the sign.
The storefront, which opened at 3318 W. Magnolia Blvd. in late June, is operated by the nonprofit the Animal Protectorates, also known as TAPS after the acronym for its mission to teach humane practices, advocate for legislative reform, protect animals and support other animal-welfare organizations.
The shop, which places rescue and shelter pets with new owners, was made possible through more than 40 donors who pledged to help the organization pay rent for the first year, plus donations and discounts from surrounding businesses, such as M2 Studio Salon, which donated a washer and dryer for cleaning bedding and towels, TAPS representatives said.
Christy Schilling, president and co-founder of TAPS, said volunteers did much of the redecorating of the store's interior as well, though the shop also got some help from the series "Save Our Shelter," which is set to air on the CW on Oct. 3.
Establishing the location on Magnolia not only created an opportunity for walk-ins, Schilling said, but helped simplify the logistics of scheduling a time and place for pet adoptions that the group had been organizing. Now, she said, she can simply tell a prospective pet parent "just go to Operation Adopt."
The store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It's also open by appointment on other days.
On days the store is closed, animals stay with foster parents who volunteer through TAPS.
Last week, the store reached the milestone of 53 animals adopted in its first 12 weeks, said Shelley Rizzotti, the group's co-founder and treasurer. Each adoption also includes a home visit beforehand.
TAPS was born from efforts in 2012 to block retail pet sales in Burbank, banning the sale of mill-bred animals and pets from any breeder, after a successful effort led to a similar ordinance in Glendale in 2011.
Next weekend, the group will host its second annual conference of the Animal Law Guild, part of its advocacy work, as well as a workshop to train volunteers who provide humane-education lessons in California classrooms, fulfilling part of its mission to teach.
The Operation Adopt store, which falls mainly under the group's mission to protect animals, is staffed completely with volunteers from the organization, the founders said. TAPS officials hadn't been looking to open a storefront when they fought to enact the ban, Rizzotti said, but this spring they saw the storefront was available and thought they'd give it a chance.
They asked their supporters if they'd be willing to make the rent payments and got enough commitments for the first year in about 10 days. Some have started to sign up to guarantee another year, Rizzotti said. Supporters have also been good about stepping up to staff the shop.
Schilling said there are roughly 150 people on the group's email list, but a core of about two dozen mainly help operate the storefront, which includes not only pets up for adoption but some retail items such as leashes and collars, three brands of pet food and pet-themed T-shirts.
The retail items help offset the difference between the group's veterinarian bills and the adoption fees it charges, generally $350 for dogs, $400 for puppies, $125 for cats and $150 for kittens, Rizzotti said.
Meanwhile, Stacie Wood, senior animal control officer for the Burbank Animal Shelter, said adoption fees at the shelter — normally $78 for cats and $104 for dogs — are half off through Oct. 2, part of a "Fall in Love" special. The fees include spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations and microchip.
Adopters sometimes are more amenable to adopting from a storefront than from a shelter, Schilling said, adding, though, that they're the same animals. She was hopeful that if every community had a storefront center for adopting shelter animals, they might be able to put an end to euthanasia.
Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy got a tour of the shop on Monday and said she was "so impressed."
"A storefront on Magnolia — what could be more perfect?" she added.
Turning to Schilling and Rizzotti at one point, Gabel-Luddy asked, "Wouldn't it be great if you were out of business one day?"