Kris Rotonda is a man with a very important mission that is close to his heart: helping animals find homes.
His inspiration to help animals in need stems from his own experiences with his 3-year-old dog Jordan, whom he’d rescued from a Tampa, Florida animal shelter where he was told she’d spent her entire life in a cage. Once he got Jordan home, she quickly became his best friend for 11 years up until she passed away. After her death, Kris chose to honor her memory by helping the shelters continue their hard work of finding forever homes for all their animals.
“Jordan was my best friend for a long time. For 11 years, she was a rock for me. After her passing, I made her a promise. I’d help pets in need so that they could live meaningful lives spreading love and joy into the hearts of the people that adopted them,” said Kris.
Kris began his nonprofit, Jordan’s Way, as a means of raising funds to feed shelter dogs across the country. In one year since he began their program, he had managed to donate a full year’s worth of food to 100 shelters! Kris manages to raise money by doing what is called “stunts for shelters,” which is a concept involving doing something extraordinary in order to get media attention which will then help to bring in more donations.
Kris, who is an avid bodybuilder, first kicked off his campaign by dragging a 250-pound tire for 13 miles. He later raised the stakes by pulling that same tire for a hundred miles across New York’s Central Park over a 9-day span.
“I’m raising awareness that small animal shelters that don’t get government funding need anywhere from $75K-100K per year to keep providing food, medical care, transportation, and shelter to rescue animals,” Kris wrote on his GoFundMe. “These shelters are run by caring individuals like you and me, and want to see their animals land in a fur-ever home where they can love and be loved for their entire lives.”
Last year, Kris even spent several nights sleeping inside a cage alongside the shelter dogs at the Humane Society of Pasco County. For 2020, Kris decided to up the ante of the live-in shelter stunt by spending 10 full days and nights inside the shelter in order to raise both awareness and money for Jordan’s Way.
Even the shelter workers were at first surprised when Kris approached them to ask if he could sleep in a cage with the dogs while streaming it for Facebook Live.
Christine DePaolo, Vice President of the Humane Society of Pasco County, said, “At first I said, ‘Is this guy crazy? Is this guy crazy?’ Because our kennels are outside.”
Once they realized he was serious, they allowed Kris to go through with his planned stunt. “Rambo is my bunk-mate for sure,” Kris said as he shared a photo of himself and one of the six dogs who are currently living at the shelter. His efforts paid off as they were successful and he reached the goal he’d set for his fundraising. But the most important thing that Kris cares about, is the hope that his stunts will encourage others to adopt and give these dogs in the shelter a second shot at a good life.
“With these animals, most of them have been abandoned, some of them are strays. It’s like, with every setback there’s a comeback I always say. And for these dogs it’s the same concept,” Kris said.
Christine added, “They all have something very special about them. And we’re lucky enough that Kris spends enough time with them for people to actually see that.”
Besides raising money, the sleepover stunts that Kris organized have also helped more than a dozen animals find their forever homes in the past year.