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A man on a mission to clear animal shelters across the USA

May 26, 2021
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BHS staff and volunteers (background) seen with Kris Rotonda (foreground) of Jordan's Way. Rotonda is on a 50-state 'Clear the Shelters' tour, a series of 'flash-mob' like fundraisers designed to generate needed funds for shelters and to promote pet adoption. BHS staff and volunteers (background) seen with Kris Rotonda (foreground) of Jordan's Way. Rotonda is on a 50-state 'Clear the Shelters' tour, a series of 'flash-mob' like fundraisers designed to generate needed funds for shelters and to promote pet adoption. (Photo courtesy Kris Rotonda/Jordan's Way)

I spent an hour last week locked in a dog kennel with one of the dogs waiting to be adopted from Bangor Humane Society. It was part of a fundraiser conducted by Jordan’s Way, an animal rescue charity established by Kris Rotonda, an animal lover you may have seen on the Hallmark Channel. He’s a high energy guy with a lot of muscles and a ton of creative ideas when it comes to generating funds for shelters.

Utilizing the Facebook Live streaming app, Rotonda canvassed the building for four hours, issuing challenges, thanking donors, and showing off the many dogs and cats awaiting adoption for his legion of Jordan’s Way followers around the world, including a high concentration of viewers from the greater Bangor area.

Rotonda established Jordan’s Way after he lost his best friend, a dog named Jordan that passed away nearly three years ago after a battle with cancer.

Jordan was three when Rotonda first took her home. Up to that moment, she had lived her entire life in a shelter, and as many pet owners are fond of proclaiming, the jury is still out on who rescued whom. Rontonda said the bond he and his family had with Jordan was profound and he vowed to honor her life by helping as many needy shelters as possible.

Rotonda set out January 10 on the current leg of his 50 state “Clear the Shelters” tour.

During his first visit to Maine, Rotonda, accompanied by his assistant, Greg Edwards, conducted four-hour fundraisers at shelters in Waterville, Cherryfield, Presque-Isle and Lewiston, in addition to his first stop at Bangor Humane Society. According to Edwards, Rotonda’s Bangor visit marked the 120th shelter he’s helped since January.

Rotonda and Edwards realized a personal goal for Jordan's Way during their fundraiser at Central Aroostook Humane Society in Presque-Isle on May 19. In four hours, more than $13,000 was raised to aid the shelter, putting their total amount raised since January over the $1 Million mark. 

Rotonda’s Jordan’s Way journey began in Florida in August 2019 when he spent 72 hours locked in a dog kennel to demonstrate what life is like for animals in a shelter. His story appeared on The Dodo website for animal lovers and on the Hallmark Channel.

During another fundraising event, Rotonda slept in a shelter for 10 nights.

Then he spent 30 nights in a cold outdoor shelter kennel, broadcasting the experience to raise funds to help improve living conditions for the animals there.

“He does these things because he wants to show people that we need to clear the shelters and get these pets adopted,” Edwards told me. “We need to find homes for these animals and show people how loving these animals are. They only need someone to give them a chance.”

Edwards said that Rotonda’s Jordan’s Way challenges offer a chance for animals to find their forever home and for viewers to see how involved and dedicated most shelter employees are when it comes to caring for the animals.

“We show people how these shelter employees go to extraordinary lengths to find the perfect homes for these animals,” Edwards said.

In four hours, Jordan’s Way helped generate more than $8,000 for Bangor Humane Society.

In addition to Bangor Humane Society staff, a number of volunteers took part in the event, and nearly everyone at some point took a pie to the face to meet a challenge. It was only whipped cream on a paper plate, but Rotonda’s pie-tossing abilities have become finely honed over the last couple of years. I can confirm that he knows how to achieve maximum whipped cream coverage.

The event culminated in a watermelon eating contest in which Rotonda and I competed to see who could consume the most watermelon, hands-free, in two minutes. Watermelon shrapnel was flying everywhere and I’m still a little unclear on whether or not a winner was declared.

The fun and kooky challenges did their job last week but the part of the event that will always stay with me is that hour I spent locked up with a sweet black lab mix named‘Ducky. Only a few months old, she had arrived at the shelter on May 3 and is on the schedule to be spayed before going up for adoption this week.

After BHS’s Taylor Black opened the door to Ducky’s kennel to allow me in, the dog seemed to nearly come unglued with joy to have a friend in there with her.

The décor inside Ducky’s kennel was modest. She had a few blankets, an elevated doggie bed and some chew toys near her water bowl.

After about 10 minutes of unbridled giddiness, she calmed down to the point where she rested her head on my leg and closed her eyes. As we sat there, I constantly patted her and told her that she was a good girl and that I was sure the right person would come along to bring her home.

I know what you’re thinking. My wife and I recently adopted two dogs. As much as I would love to bring Ducky home, we’re currently maxed out in terms of space.

Sitting in that kennel for just an hour gave me a tiny taste of what Kris experienced during his marathon kennel sleepovers, and what some animals must endure for days, weeks, months, or in Jordan’s case, years on end.

As animal shelters go, Bangor Humane Society is a beautiful facility that goes to great lengths to try to make life easier for their temporary residents, but a dog kennel by any standard can be a lonesome place. It certainly isn’t meant to be a home.

Ducky isn’t much of a barker, in fact I don’t think I heard her voice one time, but a few other dogs in nearby kennels were not so quiet, and their pleas were nearly constant. They bark from stress, from loneliness, from a desire not to be forgotten.

I suspect Ducky will appear this week on Bangor Humane Society’s list of available dogs and cats up for adoption unless she’s already found her home. If you are looking for an experience that will change your life in most amazing ways, I urge you to consider adopting one of the animals you see pictured at www.BangorHumane.org or from a shelter near you.

(For more information about Kris Rotonda and Jordan’s Way, please visit www.JordansWayTour.com.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 05:48

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