Using Stories to Bring Families Together with Abby Engel and Pet Angel Adoption
Episode 9624th February 2023 • Total Michigan • Cliff Duvernois
00:00:00 00:30:12

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Abby loves story. So much so that she now uses stories across all of Pet Angel Adoptions' social media platforms. The goals: find the perfect forever home for the cats in their no-kill shelter. And the innovation doesn't stop there. Because another goal is to make sure that the cats don't come back to the rescue.

Pet Angel Adoption is a no-kill cat rescue located in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Connect with Pet Angel Adoption: https://petangeladoption.com/

Get these amazing interviews sent directly to your inbox: https://totalmichigan.com/join

Transcripts

Abby Engel:

I don't know if I'm fearless because I do think the hate is pretty

Abby Engel:

hard sometimes and I do privately take it pretty hard, but, I still show up

Abby Engel:

because it's my job because no one else is gonna do it for the cats.

Cliff Duvernois:

Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of

Cliff Duvernois:

Ordinary People, extraordinary Things.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm your host, cliff Dubin, wa.

Cliff Duvernois:

You know, when it comes to the world of nonprofits, I love to find those out there

Cliff Duvernois:

who are doing things differently, and that is certainly the case with today's guest.

Cliff Duvernois:

She's taken this small local cat rescue.

Cliff Duvernois:

And connected it with a large base of raving fans from all across the globe.

Cliff Duvernois:

Please welcome to the show, the animated Abby Engel from Pet Angel Adoption.

Cliff Duvernois:

out of Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

Abby, how are.

Cliff Duvernois:

you

Cliff Duvernois:

You

Abby Engel:

I'm good cliff.

Abby Engel:

How are you?

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm doing awesome.

Cliff Duvernois:

Thank you for asking.

Cliff Duvernois:

And I know that Abby Engel isn't gonna be your name for long, cuz

Cliff Duvernois:

you just got recently engaged.

Abby Engel:

did.

Abby Engel:

By the end of this year, I'll be Abby Krieger.

Abby Engel:

Thank you.

Abby Engel:

I'm so excited.

Cliff Duvernois:

there we go.

Cliff Duvernois:

So we're talking today about Pet Angel Adoption.

Cliff Duvernois:

Why don't you walk us through what Pet Angel adoption is?

Abby Engel:

So for 20 years my parents have been running a cat

Abby Engel:

rescue and they accidentally started it, um, when I was eight.

Abby Engel:

My.

Abby Engel:

Parents had some feral cats in our backyard and they had given

Abby Engel:

birth and abandoned the kittens.

Abby Engel:

And my mom had bottle fed kittens before, so she was like, let's just do this.

Abby Engel:

We can take 'em in bottle, feed 'em, find 'em homes, we'll be done with it.

Abby Engel:

So of course we took 'em to the local vet to get them vetted because that's what you

Abby Engel:

do when you bottle feed kittens everybody.

Abby Engel:

And.

Abby Engel:

They were like, why do you have so many kittens?

Abby Engel:

And my mom explained the whole situation and then the next thing

Abby Engel:

she knows, they were like, well, hey, this person found a cat.

Abby Engel:

Will you take it?

Abby Engel:

And this person found a cat, will you take it?

Abby Engel:

And before we knew it, we had cages of cats in my childhood garage

Abby Engel:

and my parents said, we can't keep cats in our garage like this.

Abby Engel:

So they had a decision to make, which was in one hand, just find all the cats.

Abby Engel:

We currently had homes and.

Abby Engel:

Call it good and get rid of the cages and be done, or file for a

Abby Engel:

non-profit PA paperwork and find a location, and they went with the

Abby Engel:

ladder and petting Angel was born.

Abby Engel:

We

Cliff Duvernois:

so why did they, so let me ask you this question.

Cliff Duvernois:

Why go that route?

Cliff Duvernois:

Why not just get rid of the cats and say we're out of this business

Cliff Duvernois:

versus going into a nonprofit?

Cliff Duvernois:

Cuz having a nonprofit is tough.

Abby Engel:

I think that's a question you'd have to ask my mom, but if I

Abby Engel:

was to answer for her, I would say it's because they're good people.

Abby Engel:

There you go.

Abby Engel:

I don't think my parents could.

Abby Engel:

look

Abby Engel:

at all of these homeless cats and kittens and be like, forget you.

Abby Engel:

So I truly think that I, I always say to people that I was born to my parents

Abby Engel:

because this is what I was supposed to do.

Abby Engel:

I mean, God, whatever higher power could have put me with any people.

Abby Engel:

And he put me with the two people who started an animal rescue and

Abby Engel:

then he like, Poured into me all this compassion and empathy and I'm just

Abby Engel:

like, this is where I'm supposed to be.

Abby Engel:

And I think that that also plays a part into like who my mom is.

Abby Engel:

I mean, cliff didn't mention it, but Cliff also knows my parents very well.

Abby Engel:

Cliff was my dad's brother's best friend when they were kids.

Abby Engel:

So Cliff knows my dad.

Abby Engel:

He knew my parents' probably before I was even around.

Abby Engel:

And so he knows who they are and I don't think my parents could

Abby Engel:

just not, they love animals.

Abby Engel:

My mom specifically,

Abby Engel:

As a child, my brother Alex, he's three years younger than I, instead

Abby Engel:

of going home after school, we went to the cat rescue because my

Abby Engel:

mom was taking care of it alone.

Abby Engel:

That was her full-time job.

Abby Engel:

She didn't, she was a stay-at-home mom.

Abby Engel:

Al my, my dad worked so.

Abby Engel:

Stay-at-home.

Abby Engel:

Mom became cat rescue and stay-at-home mom.

Abby Engel:

So when she would pick us up from school, we went, we went

Abby Engel:

to the rescue instead of home.

Abby Engel:

So the cat rescue became our playground.

Abby Engel:

I remember as a kid we would keep our snow gear at the rescue, like

Abby Engel:

our snow pants and our jackets, and our gloves, and our hats.

Abby Engel:

And after school, Alex and I would put it all on and the landlord

Abby Engel:

outside the rescue would push all the snow in the parking lot.

Abby Engel:

The sides of the parking lot and we would dig tunnels and we

Abby Engel:

would play in the snow for hours.

Abby Engel:

While my mom's meeting with adopters and cleaning cages and doing paperwork

Abby Engel:

and all the cat rescue things that you need to do, we would keep our little

Abby Engel:

like razor scooters at the rescue and like play on the parking lot.

Abby Engel:

So like my childhood memories.

Abby Engel:

Are of the cat rescue.

Abby Engel:

We now have like free room apartment rooms, but before that it was dog runs

Abby Engel:

that we used as the free room rooms.

Abby Engel:

And one dog run was quote unquote mine and one was Alex's.

Abby Engel:

And we would just.

Abby Engel:

Spend time in these runs and we would pretend they're our offices.

Abby Engel:

And when adopters would come in, I'd try to convince them to adopt

Abby Engel:

a cat from my quote unquote run.

Abby Engel:

And Alex would try to convince him to adopt cats from his run.

Abby Engel:

And so that was like my introduction to cat adoption.

Abby Engel:

When I got older, I got a lot of volunteer hours because I was volunteering at

Abby Engel:

a cat rescue every day of my life.

Abby Engel:

So I was lucky to get some scholarships and get recognized for volunteer hours.

Abby Engel:

And then when I graduated, . I didn't really know what I

Abby Engel:

wanted to do with my life.

Abby Engel:

I got a degree in communications, which I loved.

Abby Engel:

My minor is in P T W, which is professional technical writing.

Abby Engel:

I love to write, which I think reflects in my cat biographies

Abby Engel:

that I write now at my job, but,

Abby Engel:

I also got the job of being the Bavarian Princess here in town in 2018.

Abby Engel:

So I needed all of the weekends off in the summer to tour as Princess because

Abby Engel:

I had to go and be in parades and represent Frankenmuth, and I couldn't

Abby Engel:

find a job straight out of graduation that would give me the time off.

Abby Engel:

But my mom needed a rescue worker and I needed a job.

Abby Engel:

So the agreement was for my Princess Ray and I would work at Pet Angel

Abby Engel:

and then I'd find another job after I gave up my crown at the end of,

Abby Engel:

in 2019, well now it's 2023 and I'm

Abby Engel:

still.

Abby Engel:

. I'm not leaving until the rescue leaves

Cliff Duvernois:

with regards to the rescue, it's not just a simple

Cliff Duvernois:

process of people walking through the door and picking out a cat.

Cliff Duvernois:

There's, you know, application that they've gotta fill out everything.

Cliff Duvernois:

Walk us through that

Cliff Duvernois:

process.

Abby Engel:

Well, actually, I think this is gonna be the

Abby Engel:

first place I talk about this.

Abby Engel:

I've come up with a new way to describe Pet Angel.

Abby Engel:

We're not just like any other animal shelter where you can go in, you can meet

Abby Engel:

all of the cats that we have available and pick whichever one you want because,

Abby Engel:

That's not realistically how picking an animal works, and I don't think

Abby Engel:

that everybody really realizes that you need the perfect match

Abby Engel:

for your family, and every cat needs the perfect match for them.

Abby Engel:

So that's what we do.

Abby Engel:

We help you find your perfect match.

Abby Engel:

Instead of just finding a cat, I take into account your other pets, how

Abby Engel:

active your home is, how many people you have in your home, what your

Abby Engel:

home is like, and what you want in.

Abby Engel:

to be able to find the perfect cat for you.

Abby Engel:

So if you have, let's say it's just you, just, you Cliff, you

Abby Engel:

don't want to have any other pets.

Abby Engel:

It's just you.

Abby Engel:

You don't plan on having anybody else in your household for the

Abby Engel:

next 10 years, and you want.

Abby Engel:

, an active, playful cat that'll just interact with you.

Abby Engel:

But like you know, you will go interview people all the time.

Abby Engel:

So someone who can be independent while you're off doing interviews for

Abby Engel:

your podcast, I'd be able to find you a cat that would love to cuddle and

Abby Engel:

greet you at the door, but is also gonna be good solo when you're gone.

Abby Engel:

They're not gonna like climb your curtains or destroy things.

Abby Engel:

But I feel like sometimes when people go into an animal rescue, they see

Abby Engel:

that super cute cat in the cage.

Abby Engel:

They don't ask oh, what's his personality like?

Abby Engel:

Does he like kids?

Abby Engel:

Does he like other cats?

Abby Engel:

Does he climb curtains?

Abby Engel:

What's his history?

Abby Engel:

Know that and you don't know that, so you just kinda get thrown in with a

Abby Engel:

cat you know nothing about, and then you have to try to figure it out.

Abby Engel:

And that's why I don't think adoptions last all the time.

Abby Engel:

So we've altered the way that I do my adoptions.

Abby Engel:

So let's say you're a family of five coming in to meet cats.

Abby Engel:

If I have a cat who doesn't like children, I'm not gonna show you

Abby Engel:

those cats, which I think makes sense.

Abby Engel:

Now I'm

Abby Engel:

not trying to talk shade on other rescues here, but I don't feel

Abby Engel:

like other rescues really always take that into consideration.

Cliff Duvernois:

Well, I think there's just a a marked difference

Cliff Duvernois:

too between people that are just thinking, get the cats outta.

Abby Engel:

Mm-hmm.

Cliff Duvernois:

without really thinking about the fact that that

Cliff Duvernois:

people could take the cat home, like you were talking about before.

Cliff Duvernois:

So people look at a cat, they think it's cute, they take it home, but the

Cliff Duvernois:

cat wants to have nothing to do with

Cliff Duvernois:

the kids.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

So the kids are crying cuz the cat doesn't wanna play with me.

Cliff Duvernois:

The cat's always mean.

Cliff Duvernois:

So what do they do?

Cliff Duvernois:

They bring the cat

Cliff Duvernois:

back Exactly

Cliff Duvernois:

right.

Cliff Duvernois:

And want to exchange it for another cute one that's in there.

Cliff Duvernois:

So with that being.

Cliff Duvernois:

How do you go about judging the, I guess, quote unquote personalities of the cats

Cliff Duvernois:

to determined, well, this one likes kids.

Cliff Duvernois:

Oh, this one likes to be by itself.

Cliff Duvernois:

This one needs another cat for companionship.

Cliff Duvernois:

How do you go about

Cliff Duvernois:

judging that?

Abby Engel:

Sometimes it's easy because the cat will be surrendered

Abby Engel:

to me with that information.

Abby Engel:

For example, I have a cat right now who was surrendered because she did not get

Abby Engel:

along with children in the home, so that's why the family couldn't keep her anymore.

Abby Engel:

So it's obvious to me she's not gonna do well in a home with children again.

Abby Engel:

But I also have volunteers who are my lovely quote unquote Guinea pigs, and.

Abby Engel:

I can ask them, Hey, when you came in with your six-year-old

Abby Engel:

last week, how did Sonny do?

Abby Engel:

And they can let me know.

Abby Engel:

Like Sonny doesn't really interact with my six year old when we're at the,

Abby Engel:

when we're volunteering, or this one hides whenever he comes into the room.

Abby Engel:

So I can figure that out by process of illumination with my volunteers.

Abby Engel:

It is hard with dogs because I can't bring a dog into my animal rescue because they.

Abby Engel:

Our animal, and we can't just let animals that aren't fully quarantined interact

Abby Engel:

with our animals for, illness reasons.

Abby Engel:

So for that, I just base it off of personality.

Abby Engel:

If they're really, really scared when I walk in the room.

Abby Engel:

If a Great Dane walks in the room, they're probably also gonna be really scared.

Abby Engel:

If a cat is so shy that like you, they don't come out very often unless they

Abby Engel:

eat, drink, or go to the bathroom, they're probably not gonna be comfortable to

Abby Engel:

come out to interact around at any dog.

Abby Engel:

I have a small dog at home, so sometimes I'll use could

Abby Engel:

this cat handle my dog doodle?

Abby Engel:

Doodle is not very big.

Abby Engel:

If they could handle doodle, I feel like they could handle any

Abby Engel:

dog

Abby Engel:

, right?

Abby Engel:

So I kind of sometimes take that into consideration too.

Abby Engel:

But sometimes it's just easy to tell when you interact with the cat.

Abby Engel:

I have one right now.

Abby Engel:

He's a face biter.

Abby Engel:

He's not being mean.

Abby Engel:

He just likes to nibble on your face.

Abby Engel:

But obviously I'm not gonna give a family with a newborn

Abby Engel:

baby a cat that bites faces.

Cliff Duvernois:

No, you

Cliff Duvernois:

definitely would

Abby Engel:

wanna do

Abby Engel:

that.

Abby Engel:

Some people might though, so I always make sure people know like,

Abby Engel:

I don't want you to just find a cat.

Abby Engel:

I want you to find your perfect match.

Abby Engel:

Cuz like you said, I don't think it's fair for a kid to have a cat

Abby Engel:

that hates them and I don't think it's fair to a cat to have a home.

Abby Engel:

where they hate someone in the home.

Abby Engel:

So I'd rather find that cat home where they like everybody and find you a,

Abby Engel:

a cat that would love your kids and wanna sleep in bed with your kids.

Abby Engel:

I have cats that'll do that.

Abby Engel:

It's just whether or not you like the looks of them, I guess.

Cliff Duvernois:

So now what is your track record as far as

Cliff Duvernois:

placing cats inside of homes?

Cliff Duvernois:

I mean, I don't know if you know exact numbers off the top of your head,

Cliff Duvernois:

but I mean, is it like really good?

Cliff Duvernois:

Do you see a lot of people bringing their cats back when they're done?

Abby Engel:

So when I took over Pet Angel, I did, I do feel like I

Abby Engel:

helped change the way that we did adoptions because I saw a lot of

Abby Engel:

returns when I first started full-time.

Abby Engel:

And one of the things I wanted to do was, Stop returns.

Abby Engel:

I wanted to make sure when a cat go goes home, they're going home to

Abby Engel:

their forever home unless for like a dire emergency, like an owner

Abby Engel:

passes away or something like that.

Abby Engel:

And so I did think that that cut back on adoptions a little bit, but it

Abby Engel:

also cut back on our return rate which I consider if a cat is adopted and

Abby Engel:

returned three weeks later, that's not a true adoption number in my opinion.

Abby Engel:

They were returned, so I don't count that as an adoption of the year.

Abby Engel:

But the pandemic really did play a really big part into our adoption

Abby Engel:

numbers, and it still is today.

Abby Engel:

So I didn't really talk about how many adoptions we did last

Abby Engel:

year because it was very low.

Abby Engel:

And that's because a lot of people, when they went into the

Abby Engel:

pandemic and had all this time off.

Abby Engel:

They wanted adopted animals and then when they all went

Abby Engel:

back to work in 2021 and 2020.

Abby Engel:

They all return to the animals, to the shelters.

Abby Engel:

So right now the shelters are in a bit of an epidemic ourselves, and I

Abby Engel:

don't know if a lot of people know that we are, but we're overcrowded.

Abby Engel:

We don't have adoptions.

Abby Engel:

We just have more people wanting to bring us cats.

Abby Engel:

And we're also now a no-kill state, which means 90% of the animals going

Abby Engel:

into kill shelters are not euthanized.

Abby Engel:

I'm a no-kill shelter, so that statistic doesn't matter for me.

Abby Engel:

But for the state of Michigan, that just means that we eliminated.

Abby Engel:

Eliminating of animals, which is great.

Abby Engel:

That's what we wanna do.

Abby Engel:

We don't wanna euthanize them.

Abby Engel:

But we also didn't come up with what we're gonna do with the

Abby Engel:

surplus of animals that we now have.

Abby Engel:

So all of our animal rescues are

Abby Engel:

full.

Abby Engel:

Everybody wants to keep bringing us more, which is contributing

Abby Engel:

to the dumping of animals now.

Abby Engel:

So it's all just bleeding over and is a little crazy right now.

Abby Engel:

I do think that's also playing into what I'm calling the epidemic of rudeness.

Abby Engel:

The animal welfare world because so many people have animals they

Abby Engel:

wanna return, but we're all full.

Abby Engel:

So people are getting upset and acting out towards us in the animal welfare industry.

Abby Engel:

And a lot of people I know from other shelters in the state are actually

Abby Engel:

leaving the industry because it's too emotionally tolling for them right now.

Cliff Duvernois:

Sweet Moses.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

There's a whole other component right there.

Cliff Duvernois:

What I'd like to do is I would like to, cuz you were talking before about

Cliff Duvernois:

the personality that your cats have.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

So what I'd like to do is I want to talk to you about how you

Cliff Duvernois:

are leveraging social media.

Cliff Duvernois:

To get your message out and to connect with your audience.

Cliff Duvernois:

Cuz one of the things that you do really well on Facebook,

Cliff Duvernois:

I read your post whenever you've got, you know, hi, my name is Timmy.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yes,

Cliff Duvernois:

and there's some post about, oh, well I like kids and I like to snuggle.

Cliff Duvernois:

And you really do an excellent job of painting a personality around a cat.

Cliff Duvernois:

Not only to, you know, let people know that, hey, there's, there's

Cliff Duvernois:

this, really cute cat here.

Cliff Duvernois:

But also get the message out to people that if they are looking for a cat, here's

Cliff Duvernois:

one that might be a good fit for you.

Cliff Duvernois:

First off, how did you come up with the idea to start giving your, your

Cliff Duvernois:

cats these, I guess, backs, stories

Cliff Duvernois:

on

Cliff Duvernois:

social.

Abby Engel:

I call

Abby Engel:

' em resumes.

Abby Engel:

So the idea was, I don't know if you've seen the little like documents I make

Abby Engel:

where it actually looks like a job resume, but every cat at the rescue gets a true

Abby Engel:

quote unquote job resume made for them that I handmake and takes a really long

Abby Engel:

time , but I do it and it's a resume for them to be your new house cat.

Abby Engel:

Um, I came up with it because, . I went to school.

Abby Engel:

Well, my minor is professional technical writing, like I said.

Abby Engel:

And one of the things that we did in that was make resumes, and that was my favorite

Abby Engel:

part of Ptw when I was in college.

Abby Engel:

I love making resumes.

Abby Engel:

All of my friends, like ask me to help them make their resumes because

Abby Engel:

it's like a secret love of mine.

Abby Engel:

So I'm like, heck yeah.

Abby Engel:

I wanna make resumes all, all the time.

Abby Engel:

I love doing this, so I'm gonna make 'em for the cats

Abby Engel:

and

Abby Engel:

I.

Abby Engel:

Personalize it and make it all cute, which is what I love to do, but I also

Abby Engel:

get to do it about an animal that I love.

Abby Engel:

I don't think a lot of people know how long an animal is with us before

Abby Engel:

they go up for adoption, but all the animals have to be quarantined

Abby Engel:

for at least 10 days before they can even be considered or moved.

Abby Engel:

And I don't put them up for adoption.

Abby Engel:

Oh, 10 days is up.

Abby Engel:

They're up for adoption.

Abby Engel:

I move them out of our isolation room at that point, and I wait until

Abby Engel:

they're comfortable in their new environment, whether that's a cage or

Abby Engel:

free room, room, something like that, before I put them up for adoption.

Abby Engel:

So I usually know them for at least a month

Abby Engel:

before.

Abby Engel:

And in that month I'm interacting with them from the state of, they're absolutely

Abby Engel:

terrified, hissing, growling, hiding when they arrive to their crawling all

Abby Engel:

over my lap and cuddling on day 30.

Abby Engel:

So I get to know their personality a lot.

Abby Engel:

I know their backstory cuz I'm the one that took them in.

Abby Engel:

So I can tell you where they came from.

Abby Engel:

I can tell you why they were surrendered.

Abby Engel:

I know their personality because I've been the one that's working

Abby Engel:

with them every day on socializing.

Abby Engel:

And I can.

Abby Engel:

them, interact with the other cats.

Abby Engel:

Oh my gosh.

Abby Engel:

They love the other cats.

Abby Engel:

Okay.

Abby Engel:

They'll do great in a home with other cats.

Abby Engel:

You mentioned I do have some pairs.

Abby Engel:

It's very obvious which ones don't want to leave each other.

Abby Engel:

So when you see that happen, I can say like, okay, these

Abby Engel:

guys need to be a bonded pair.

Abby Engel:

They won't even, I can't take this one out of the room without the

Abby Engel:

other ones screaming their head off.

Abby Engel:

They need to be together.

Abby Engel:

I think it's just like, you know, when you know a lot of people, it's kinda like

Abby Engel:

asking a teacher, like how they make their c lassroom seating chart, they kind of

Abby Engel:

get to know the students and know, okay, these two can't sit next to each other.

Abby Engel:

I know which two cats cannot be in the same room together, . But

Abby Engel:

I also think that that helps a lot with placing em into their homes.

Cliff Duvernois:

The added aspect to this as well, is it's more than

Cliff Duvernois:

just putting a photo onto facebook.

Cliff Duvernois:

Oh, yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

And say, here's a new cat by writing up that cat resume as

Cliff Duvernois:

you called it, right there.

Cliff Duvernois:

First off, people love your stories.

Cliff Duvernois:

because people are liking your posts, they're hearting your posts,

Cliff Duvernois:

they're commenting down below.

Cliff Duvernois:

They're doing everything, which from a social media marketing

Cliff Duvernois:

standpoint, that's what you want.

Cliff Duvernois:

You want to put content out there that people are gonna engage with, but these

Cliff Duvernois:

people seem to get really emotionally invested in what it is that you're doing.

Abby Engel:

Yeah.

Abby Engel:

I might be, because I think it's somewhat cats.

Abby Engel:

I do think, you know, you bring animals into something and you.

Abby Engel:

The animals.

Abby Engel:

Because who doesn't look a cute cat?

Abby Engel:

I mean, let's be honest.

Abby Engel:

Every time you see a cute animal on social media, you stop for a second

Abby Engel:

to look before you keep scrolling.

Abby Engel:

You gotta, but I also think it's just the story aspect that I bring to it.

Abby Engel:

I'm not just here's a cat.

Abby Engel:

They're fully vetted, they need a home.

Abby Engel:

I'll tell you everything about them, everything that I possibly can because

Abby Engel:

I want them, to find the perfect home.

Abby Engel:

And I want you to find the perfect cat.

Abby Engel:

And I feel like that's the best way to do it.

Abby Engel:

Sometimes I feel like I get down on myself, like I don't know what I'm doing.

Abby Engel:

I'm full imposter syndrome.

Abby Engel:

I guess I, and I get it a lot oh my gosh, how am I any better?

Abby Engel:

How, how can I be the person to decide whether or not these people get cats?

Abby Engel:

Like, how can I be this judgemental?

Abby Engel:

I hate judging people and I'm the one that judges applications

Abby Engel:

like, so I hate doing that , but.

Abby Engel:

. Other times

Abby Engel:

I look at, I read my own bio or I'll read a story that I wrote and I'll cry.

Abby Engel:

I'm reading my own writing and I'm tearing up and I'm like, oh my gosh, I guess

Abby Engel:

I am kind of good at this.

Abby Engel:

Sometimes , so sometimes I feel like everybody I feel like feels like that.

Abby Engel:

Like nobody knows what they're doing.

Abby Engel:

And I don't want anybody listening to this be like, oh my gosh, Abby

Abby Engel:

totally knows what she's doing cuz I'm winging this 100% 24 7.

Abby Engel:

But if you tell me something works, then I'm just gonna say, okay, well that works.

Abby Engel:

So I'm just gonna keep doing it and this works.

Abby Engel:

So I just keep doing.

Cliff Duvernois:

Well, I think for any either business or nonprofit out there,

Cliff Duvernois:

you kind of have to experiment to find out what it is that's really gonna

Cliff Duvernois:

resonate with your particular audience.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yep.

Abby Engel:

Oh, yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

speaking of audience, let's talk about you and TikTok.

Cliff Duvernois:

Okay.

Cliff Duvernois:

Because that seems to be where you're really shining.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

So how, how many people are following you now

Cliff Duvernois:

on,

Cliff Duvernois:

on

Abby Engel:

TikTok

Abby Engel:

You wanna get a live number?

Abby Engel:

Let me, uh, open up TikTok quick.

Abby Engel:

So right now we, 219000.8.

Abby Engel:

So 219,800, is that what that is?

Cliff Duvernois:

200.

Cliff Duvernois:

19,800.

Abby Engel:

Yeah.

Abby Engel:

Two 19.8 K.

Abby Engel:

So

Abby Engel:

that's a lot.

Abby Engel:

Um, I'm at 5.4 million likes on TikTok as well.

Abby Engel:

And would you believe me if I told

Abby Engel:

you

Abby Engel:

I

Abby Engel:

have no idea what I'm.

Abby Engel:

That's

Abby Engel:

perfect.

Abby Engel:

I truly wing a lot of my TikTok, so I have worked with a couple companies now.

Abby Engel:

Um, but when I started TikTok, just like everybody else, I downloaded

Abby Engel:

during the pandemic, I was staying

Abby Engel:

home.

Abby Engel:

we were supposed to, but I have an animal rescue.

Abby Engel:

We can't just not go to the animal rescue for three weeks.

Abby Engel:

I was going in not every day, cuz I wasn't working full days, but

Abby Engel:

still to take care of the animals, to check on them, to see things.

Abby Engel:

And I'm bored.

Abby Engel:

I, the phone's not ringing.

Abby Engel:

I have no applications.

Abby Engel:

I can't do intakes, I can't do outtakes, I can't do anything.

Abby Engel:

So I just made a TikTok of the cat rescue because I'm sitting in the building for

Abby Engel:

by myself all day long doing nothing.

Abby Engel:

So I'll make

Abby Engel:

a TikTok and it.

Abby Engel:

People wanted to see my cats.

Abby Engel:

People had questions, people wanted to know more about me, so

Abby Engel:

I told my story, oh, this is how my parents started my cat rescue.

Abby Engel:

Oh, here's this cat.

Abby Engel:

This is, and I just explained our rescue, you know?

Abby Engel:

Oh, they're all fully vetted.

Abby Engel:

Oh yeah.

Abby Engel:

Like, no, we're a no kill shelter.

Abby Engel:

Oh, yeah.

Abby Engel:

They stay with us till they find a home.

Abby Engel:

Yeah, we have free room rooms.

Abby Engel:

They don't all have to stay in cages.

Abby Engel:

People loved it.

Abby Engel:

Sometimes I think some people come to my channel just for the cats.

Abby Engel:

Sometimes I think people come to my channel just for me, whatever

Abby Engel:

you come to my channel to.

Abby Engel:

I'm just glad you're there.

Cliff Duvernois:

So let's talk about some of the, the real

Cliff Duvernois:

tangible benefits of TikTok.

Cliff Duvernois:

Have you been able to raise money through TikTok?

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

Have you gained, uh, I don't wanna say notoriety, maybe,

Cliff Duvernois:

you know, you've garnered some, some real attention from people.

Cliff Duvernois:

Talk to us a little bit about that.

Abby Engel:

So there's good aspects of TikTok and there's bad aspects of

Abby Engel:

TikTok, so I kinda wanna talk about both.

Abby Engel:

The good is we've benefited from it in so many ways, not only from

Abby Engel:

being able to reach people globally, like I have followers from the other

Abby Engel:

side of the world who send, not even like monetary donations, but

Abby Engel:

they'll buy things off our Amazon wishlist and send them to the rescue.

Abby Engel:

So we're getting.

Abby Engel:

More donations than we ever have before from people all over the

Abby Engel:

world who have never heard of us or even know me personally.

Abby Engel:

They just wanna send my cats a cat, you know, a cat tree.

Abby Engel:

And we love that and

Abby Engel:

we

Abby Engel:

love to see it.

Abby Engel:

I feel like sometimes there's some people who aren't so nice too, see the internet.

Abby Engel:

Yeah.

Abby Engel:

And so that, I feel it gets hard to show up on TikTok for me, sometimes

Abby Engel:

I won't post for a little bit just because I'm a very empathetic person

Abby Engel:

and I don't think people realize that.

Abby Engel:

I do read the comments, so I'll see something.

Abby Engel:

You know, someone could be really great bringing, like it

Abby Engel:

brings in a lot of donations.

Abby Engel:

So many people from this one video brought,

Abby Engel:

but one bad comment, I don't wanna post for.

Abby Engel:

So even though it's benefiting my rescue and my cats are seeing success, it's

Abby Engel:

i'll, I've cried over comments probably this week alone, people will reach out.

Abby Engel:

They don't think I see it.

Abby Engel:

They don't, oh, she has 200 followers.

Abby Engel:

She doesn't see my dms.

Abby Engel:

I see the dms and they're not kind, and I don't answer most of

Abby Engel:

the, not kind ones, but I see 'em.

Abby Engel:

So it kind of, The two coins.

Abby Engel:

I have people from other sides of the world who are reaching

Abby Engel:

out, sending donations.

Abby Engel:

People who have lived left us in our will, in their wills.

Abby Engel:

We don't even know them, and they've left us in their wills.

Abby Engel:

I've had adopters find us on TikTok.

Abby Engel:

I've gotten to work with amazing brands that all of us use every single day.

Abby Engel:

I've made money myself, not only just for the karaoke, but people have paid me

Abby Engel:

for who

Abby Engel:

I am for.

Abby Engel:

And I've never a mil imagined that in a million years.

Abby Engel:

But then on the flip coin, I open my comments and people are calling

Abby Engel:

me names and saying, I did this in my video, so I'm a bad person, or

Abby Engel:

I didn't post, so I'm a bad person.

Abby Engel:

And so there's both of it.

Abby Engel:

, it's really helping the rescue, but sometimes it's really damaging

Abby Engel:

my

Abby Engel:

self-esteem and my

Abby Engel:

personal worth

Cliff Duvernois:

because a lot of who you are.

Cliff Duvernois:

Is wrapped up in this because you are literally sharing

Cliff Duvernois:

your

Cliff Duvernois:

story as

Cliff Duvernois:

you

Cliff Duvernois:

go.

Abby Engel:

Yeah.

Abby Engel:

I'm not a character.

Abby Engel:

I'm not an actor.

Abby Engel:

I'm not

Abby Engel:

a fake, I think a character.

Abby Engel:

I'm not a, well, I guess I shouldn't say a character in a book.

Abby Engel:

I'm not like a made up person that this company has put me

Abby Engel:

on to be their spokes model.

Abby Engel:

I'm the only employee at Pet Angel.

Abby Engel:

I'm the face of the place.

Abby Engel:

I am the employee of the place, and I'm also Akel, not Pet Angel.

Abby Engel:

I have other things I do in my life too, not.

Abby Engel:

Cat rescue related.

Abby Engel:

So it's really hard for me to like unravel the two sometimes.

Abby Engel:

So if someone gets really upset that I am not taking a cat from them, or I didn't,

Abby Engel:

I, their application was denied for some reason, they'll take it out on me.

Abby Engel:

And I take that personally.

Abby Engel:

So I've been trying to put up some boundaries a little bit on social media.

Abby Engel:

Um, like I don't always answer personal dms anymore.

Abby Engel:

Um, they have to be directed to like Pet Angels account

Abby Engel:

if they're pet Angel related.

Abby Engel:

Just to protect myself a little bit more.

Cliff Duvernois:

When you were talking before about these negative comments

Cliff Duvernois:

that were coming in and how it takes a little bit of an emotional toll

Cliff Duvernois:

and you're, you don't post for a week

Cliff Duvernois:

mm-hmm.

Cliff Duvernois:

, you know, you need to take a break.

Cliff Duvernois:

How do you overcome.

Cliff Duvernois:

That to get back onto the social media bandwagon, to get back onto TikTok, what,

Cliff Duvernois:

what is your thought process that that helps you to flip that switch to say,

Cliff Duvernois:

okay, yesterday I wasn't gonna do it, but today I'll do it.

Abby Engel:

usually

Abby Engel:

an idea

Abby Engel:

for a video.

Abby Engel:

If

Abby Engel:

I don't have an idea for a video, I'm probably not gonna show up if

Abby Engel:

I'm having one of those bad days.

Abby Engel:

Sometimes I'll be scrolling on TikTok at bed and I'll be like,

Abby Engel:

oh my gosh, I love this sound.

Abby Engel:

This is what I could do with it.

Abby Engel:

Save it.

Abby Engel:

And I make it the next day.

Abby Engel:

And then it just, I'm okay Again, there's no bad comments on that video.

Abby Engel:

I'm okay.

Abby Engel:

It, I think it depends on the comments though too.

Abby Engel:

If it was something really bad, if they've been continuing, I'm gonna probably

Abby Engel:

not post for a little bit because I want that person to kind of forget I

Abby Engel:

existed before I start posting again.

Abby Engel:

I do block people, but people don't care if they make a

Abby Engel:

second profile and find you.

Abby Engel:

There's hate watchers.

Abby Engel:

They count as a view, so thanks for the view, but sometimes I wish people

Abby Engel:

wouldn't leave comments that are mean.

Abby Engel:

If you don't say anything, if you don't have anything nice to

Abby Engel:

say, don't say anything at all.

Abby Engel:

Should be a rule still.

Cliff Duvernois:

so TikTok has actually had a lot more benefits.

Cliff Duvernois:

For the rescue.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yes.

Cliff Duvernois:

And there's definitely has been a benefit to, you know, for fair lack

Cliff Duvernois:

of a better term, for being fearless.

Abby Engel:

Yeah.

Abby Engel:

To

Abby Engel:

go

Cliff Duvernois:

TikTok, cuz not a lot of people would do that.

Abby Engel:

I don't know if I'm fearless because I do think the hate is pretty

Abby Engel:

hard sometimes and I do privately take it pretty hard, but, I still show up

Abby Engel:

because it's my job because no one else is gonna do it for the cats.

Abby Engel:

So if I don't like, we'll lose all of these followers.

Abby Engel:

We lose all of these donors and I feel like it's kind of riding

Abby Engel:

on me to, to keep 'em entertained so they'll keep helping us.

Abby Engel:

I think that it's like a give serve.

Abby Engel:

I give them the cat content, they give us donations,

Abby Engel:

but

Abby Engel:

it

Abby Engel:

works out.

Abby Engel:

There are some really great people.

Abby Engel:

I've met some people on TikTok that I wouldn't have known

Abby Engel:

otherwise, and now they're like, I've never met them in real life.

Abby Engel:

We just talk on social media because they've become great

Abby Engel:

supporters of our rescue.

Abby Engel:

I'm sure they're listening to this cuz they support us so much.

Abby Engel:

They'll listen to anything I post.

Abby Engel:

Anything that has to do with the cat rescue, they'll be there.

Abby Engel:

So I'm sure they, they're listening.

Abby Engel:

They're like, yeah.

Abby Engel:

Oh

Abby Engel:

my

Abby Engel:

god,

Abby Engel:

that's

Abby Engel:

me.

Abby Engel:

It is you.

Abby Engel:

Hi Stephanie

Cliff Duvernois:

me.

Cliff Duvernois:

Oh,

Abby Engel:

Oh, that's so wonderful.

Abby Engel:

Being able to create relationships media like that.

Abby Engel:

Yeah.

Abby Engel:

And I don't even know them.

Abby Engel:

They just love our rescue, love what we do, and they're there for us.

Abby Engel:

And I mean, we had a, I have two cats, their names Sonny and Bunny last

Abby Engel:

year.

Abby Engel:

They had

Abby Engel:

to have, they have.

Abby Engel:

I think

Abby Engel:

it's pronounced

Abby Engel:

periodontal disease.

Abby Engel:

And they had to have full dental work done, teeth pulled.

Abby Engel:

Bunny got most of his teeth pulled during the surgery and we found

Abby Engel:

out they had it and they needed the surgery pretty quickly.

Abby Engel:

And we did not have the money for two cats to get dental surgery at the same time.

Abby Engel:

And I made a TikTok about it and by the end of the day, I had enough money

Abby Engel:

for both of those cats to get their

Abby Engel:

dental surgery

Abby Engel:

plus

Abby Engel:

more.

Abby Engel:

So

Abby Engel:

I'm able to get things.

Abby Engel:

Never before were possible

Abby Engel:

because of TikTok.

Abby Engel:

Like Bunny and Sunny would've had to wait months before for us to raise enough

Abby Engel:

money for them to get that surgery, and I was able to schedule it the next day.

Abby Engel:

I don't really wanna talk about f I P a lot because it's really complex and

Abby Engel:

I definitely cry when I talk about it.

Abby Engel:

But f i p is a really bad fatal disease that is kind of coming up

Abby Engel:

in the cat rescue world right now.

Abby Engel:

If you're worrying about it for your animal, you don't need to.

Abby Engel:

It usually only happens when there's a lot of animals that are together.

Abby Engel:

It has to do with the feline coronavirus.

Abby Engel:

It's very complex.

Abby Engel:

You can look it up if you want.

Abby Engel:

It's called F i P but it hit our rescue two years ago.

Cliff Duvernois:

ago.

Cliff Duvernois:

Oh,

Abby Engel:

And we lost a couple cats to it.

Abby Engel:

A few of them are very dear to my heart.

Abby Engel:

My bottle feed babies, my, that eye bottle fed had 'em, um, I lost one

Abby Engel:

of them and two of them are now our office cats there, f i p survivors.

Abby Engel:

But because of TikTok, I believe those cats survived.

Abby Engel:

F i p.

Abby Engel:

because I wouldn't have been able to afford the medication.

Abby Engel:

It is so, so expensive.

Abby Engel:

We currently have a cat who has f i p, she's in foster care.

Abby Engel:

She is on the medication, but it's very expensive and I don't think we'd be able

Abby Engel:

to even do this medication and save their lives if I didn't have TikTok followers

Abby Engel:

who

Abby Engel:

are

Abby Engel:

giving

Abby Engel:

us

Abby Engel:

views, which is giving us donations.

Cliff Duvernois:

So I think it's safe to say that making that

Cliff Duvernois:

investment into creating these little short videos on TikTok,

Cliff Duvernois:

creating

Cliff Duvernois:

this

Cliff Duvernois:

content,

Cliff Duvernois:

sharing the

Cliff Duvernois:

story, has

Cliff Duvernois:

paid off

Cliff Duvernois:

for

Cliff Duvernois:

you in

Cliff Duvernois:

spades.

Abby Engel:

TikTok has saved cat's lives for sure, at my cat rescue, and

Abby Engel:

I don't think that people realize it.

Abby Engel:

Like, I don't think, when people watch my TikTok, they're like, oh,

Abby Engel:

I just, I'm making a difference.

Abby Engel:

But you are like, you truly are.

Abby Engel:

When people leave, like a comment that spikes the video

Abby Engel:

when people

Abby Engel:

like

Abby Engel:

the

Abby Engel:

video

Abby Engel:

that spikes the video,

Abby Engel:

like all

Abby Engel:

of

Abby Engel:

it's

Abby Engel:

helping.

Abby Engel:

I don't think yeah, just

Abby Engel:

watching

Abby Engel:

it, it helps.

Abby Engel:

I don't joke when I say like a dollar donation.

Abby Engel:

If you make $1 donation on Facebook, we get that whole donation from Facebook.

Abby Engel:

They don't take a portion of a donation made through there.

Abby Engel:

So that, or like PayPal or something like that, that $1 is making a huge

Abby Engel:

difference because you know, 50 people can make a $1 donation and that's $50.

Abby Engel:

So I don't think people realize like, yeah, you know, one view, one full,

Abby Engel:

watching a TikTok on one full video might give them 1 cent, but that's

Abby Engel:

5,000 people doing that at once.

Abby Engel:

That's.

Abby Engel:

Money in

Abby Engel:

an hour.

Abby Engel:

So it helps

Abby Engel:

and

Abby Engel:

everything

Abby Engel:

helps.

Abby Engel:

And I, I appreciate TikTok.

Abby Engel:

I really do.

Abby Engel:

I know I was talking trash on it.

Abby Engel:

Sometimes it really is hard sometimes to just show up on it every day,

Abby Engel:

but I'm finding ways to manage it.

Abby Engel:

One thing

Abby Engel:

I have

Abby Engel:

been doing

Abby Engel:

is Bulk making my tos so I don't have to show up on TikTok

Abby Engel:

every day to make a video.

Abby Engel:

I can just make four in one day and then I don't have to make a

Abby Engel:

video for three days, and that's

Abby Engel:

been helping me a lot.

Abby Engel:

Yes.

Abby Engel:

Don't have to get myself fully ready and show up on camera when I'm not feeling it.

Cliff Duvernois:

please.

Cliff Duvernois:

Certainly.

Cliff Duvernois:

Abby, for our audience, if anybody's listening to this and they want to

Cliff Duvernois:

connect with you, learn more about Pet angel adoption, maybe even find you on

Cliff Duvernois:

tikTok and leave you a nice comment,

Cliff Duvernois:

, Abby Engel: Yes, please.

Cliff Duvernois:

So I am Ace Engel, which is just a C E E N G E L on all social media platforms.

Cliff Duvernois:

And then Pet Angel adoption is just pet angel adoption on TikTok.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's just me.

Cliff Duvernois:

Pet Angel does not have their own TikTok.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's my TikTok.

Cliff Duvernois:

We are one , which is just the Ace angle.

Cliff Duvernois:

Um, and then on Facebook it's just Pet Angel, cat Adoption and Rescue.

Cliff Duvernois:

I don't use my personal Facebook for like cat stuff, so don't look me up on there.

Cliff Duvernois:

Just look up Pet Angel's account.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm the one that answers everything on there.

Cliff Duvernois:

And for our audience, you can go to total michigan.com.

Cliff Duvernois:

Click on Abby's interview and get all the links that she

Cliff Duvernois:

shared with us today in the show.

Cliff Duvernois:

And please take a moment to donate to their great cause.

Cliff Duvernois:

If you are interested in having these stories sent directly to

Cliff Duvernois:

your inbox, head over to our website@totalmichigan.com slash join.

Cliff Duvernois:

Give us your email and we'll send you our top five interviews along with the

Cliff Duvernois:

powerful lessons that I've learned along the ways talking to these people that

Cliff Duvernois:

are doing really extraordinary things.

Cliff Duvernois:

You'll also get an invitation to join our private Facebook group, as well

Cliff Duvernois:

as Advanced notice of upcoming guests and great behind the scenes stories.

Cliff Duvernois:

Once again, that's total michigan.com/join, and I'll

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