EARS - About Us

EARS is a 501c3 non-profit, animal rescue and sanctuary dedicated to helping homeless dogs and cats find their "forever homes" and live the lives they so truly deserve.


EARS is a volunteer-based organization of animal lovers with a desire to help precious pets in need.  We work from the heart and receive an abundance of love and gratitude from the animals we save.


We are not funded by the state or government and survive solely on the generous donations from our community.  Our thrift store enables us to generate some of the much needed funds to care for our animals.  Pet adoption fees fund our ability to rescue more animals. Local businesses and individuals generously donate much needed supplies and food.





Board of Directors

Mary Curtis - Chairperson of the Board, 

Paula Hines - Treasurer, and Nicole Fuson, Secretary


EARS Staff

John Radkins is our Executive Director, Todd Zimmerman is our Shelter Manager,

Barbara Kerwick is the Thrift Store Manager, Patti Smallings is her assistant.

Judy Winant is our Cat Sanctuary Coordinator, Gail Rogers manages our database and record keeping, and Teri Boyd is our Communications Volunteer



There are many other wonderful Volunteers and Foster folks that keep EARS going, it would be impossible to list them all without forgetting someone, but we couldn't do it without them!

Shelter Animals Count is a collaborative effort by Maddie's Fund and broad representation from the animal welfare community.

Despite the hard work of shelters and rescues everywhere, it is estimated millions of pets enter America’s shelters each year, and more than half of them will never leave. While great progress has been made, accurate and comprehensive nation-wide data does not exist.  The numbers really do count. By creating standardized reporting and definitions for shelter statistics they hope to  increase live outcomes. EARS has worked hard to participate in this project during 2017 and is proud to continue with providing data for 2018. 

EARS participates in Shelter Animals Count

UPDATE: EARS is now also participating in the Million Cat Challenge !

Our cats are in a spacious area that includes an outdoor patio for them to enjoy.  They are well socialized.  Volunteers and members of the community spend quality time with them.


Our dogs are in foster homes so that they may receive all the love, care and training they need.  Each foster parent learns the wants and needs of each individual dog so that they may be placed in the perfect home.  We are in need of fosters.  If you would like to help a precious pet get a second chance and find a loving home, please foster. 


Our passion is rescuing dogs and cats from SWFL County Open Admission Shelters with high euthanasia rates due to overcrowding. We save pets from Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Broward, Arcadia, Sebring and Collier County shelters.   


The more pets we are able to rescue, the more lives we save.  In 2017 we were able to rescue and find “forever homes” for 135 dogs and 95 cats. Saving them from almost certain death at the high-kill rate County animal shelters. 


EARS does adoption and fundraising events in Englewood, Venice, Northport and Pt. Charlotte. We work directly with other small, non-profit groups such as: Venice Cat Coalition, St. Francis and Community Cats of Charlotte County to help reduce the number of stray cats in our area. 





The Million Cat Challenge is a movement initiated by Mattie's Fund as a shelter-based campaign to save the lives of 1 million cats in North America over the course of five years. The core strategy of the campaign is centered around five key initiatives that offer every shelter, in every community, practical choices to reduce euthanasia and increase live outcomes for shelter cats. 1. Alternatives to Intakes, 2. Managed Admission, 3. Capacity for Care, 4. Removing Barriers for Adoption, 5. Return to Field (TNR) 

EARS was founded by Peggy Hauptman, in 2001, supported by her husband, Paul Hauptman; daughter, Jaxzann Riggs-Berkowitz; other family members and close friends, with a vision to care for needy adoptable pets for life. Peggy was a woman with a pure heart who loved all living creatures.

Our Southwest Florida region is characterized by too much animal abandonment, abuse, and irresponsible breeding. Peggy personally supported increased spay/neuter programs, more aggressive adoption campaigns, and the development of a unique sanctuary to care for thousands of adoptable pets. Her dream was to build and operate a care-for-life sanctuary for domestic animals – dogs, cats and bunnies.

Peggy passed away in March of 2008 without realizing her dream but left it in the hands of the EARS’ board of directors, staff and volunteers committed to finalizing her dream.

In March of 2011 a new board of directors was established.  These dedicated individuals were involved with EARS and wanted to ensure that Peggy's dream continues.  EARS continues to grow on a daily basis and increases the number of precious pets rescued and re-homed.

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