Rescue Of The Month
St. John is the smallest of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea with a population of around 16,800 people. As such, the island faces overpopulation problems of dogs and cats. The Animal Care Center was started to combat this problem and help educate the community about animal care. It is with great pleasure to name the Animal Care Center (ACC) of St. John as our Rescue of the Month for August.
We sat down with the ACC's Assistant Manager, Asya Simons, to learn more about the organization's challenges, a particular rescue story, and a look into the future.
Tell us about how the Animal Care Center of St. John was started?
The Animal Care Center was started in order to address the problem of abused, abandoned, unwanted and feral animals on the island of St. John. Being such a small island, issues concerning cats and dogs tend to multiply and grow out of hand in a very short period of time, so an organization was needed to not only address the animals directly, but also to educate and empower local individuals to create a lasting impact on future generations.
What are the biggest challenges the rescue faces?
One of the biggest issues we face is a lack of education in the community concerning animal care. We work hard to educate local residents on how to care for their pets, including preventing diseases such as heartworm, which is rampant in the Virgin Islands. We also help residents provide basic care by offering low-cost dog and cat food, and free flea, tick and heartworm medications. We are also faced with a number of animals who come to our facility with severe behavior problems due to abuse or neglect. We are working to address this problem by implementing a new clicker training program with our staff!
Running a rescue and helping dogs can be tough, both emotionally and physically. Can you share a tough experience or trying moment for the ACC, and what you did to overcome it?
It is always difficult when we take in animals, normally dogs, who have been severely neglected or abused. The time and energy those individuals require to trust people again can be immense, and there are times when it feels hopeless. We had one dog, Joplin, who came to our facility at around 1 year old after being neglected almost to the point of starvation. Our manager, Ryan, went with the local veterinarian to the abandoned building where she was living literally in her own waste, and she was all teeth, completely terrified. After being sedated, treated, and transferred to the ACC, Joplin dealt with a number of behavioral issues such as food aggression, and fear-based aggression towards anyone she wasn’t familiar with. It could take weeks for new staff members to be able to approach her without growling. With the constant love and special attention she received, she did slowly learn to trust people again, and came to be one of our favorite residents!
Do you have a network of fosters in the local area that help care for the dogs or do all of the dogs stay in your facility?
The majority of the dogs that come into our care stay at our facility until we are able to place them into homes, as the majority of our adoptions go to the mainland through tourists who fell in love with a dog they walked during their time volunteering. However, we do have a handful of residents on the island who will regularly foster dogs to help them experience a home life, and the community always steps up to help when we have a resident who needs to be in foster care due to age or medical needs.
Where does your primary financial support come from?
Our financial support comes from donations from supporters around the country. We hold a number of fundraising events throughout the year, such as our annual Gala and Wagapalooza, our local dog show, but we also receive donations from tourists who visit the island and come by to get their dose of puppy love!
How many dogs on average do you place in their forever homes annually?
We generally have between 70 and 100 dogs come through our facility in a year, but since Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Virgin Islands last September, we have seen almost three times that number, largely due to families who lost everything, and needed to give their furry companions the chance at a better future.
What are the plans for the future?
Last year we were fortunate enough to pay off a piece of land that we can finally call our own! We are working on completing building plans for a new facility that will allow us to expand the number of animals we can care for, increase the level of care we are able to provide, and create new opportunities for volunteers.
For the month of July we're excited to name the incredible Fresno Bully Rescue as our Rescue of the Month! We sat down with Bridgette Boothe, who is the executive director of Fresno Bully Rescue to learn more about the early days, the struggles, and the future.
Fresno Bully Rescue, or FBR, was founded by a small group of people in 2008 just after the California housing market crash. At the time, many people were forced out of their homes and into rental properties. Many landlords did not allow pit bulls to live in their rentals, resulting in an unfortunate influx of pit bulls being surrendered to shelters. The founders of FBR felt like they needed to help and started the organization.
Breed discrimination has been a constant struggle for the rescue. "Housing restrictions limit how many homes we can adopt to. Breed restrictions & discrimination is still very much an issue although its improving. People's feelings about the breed are very black or white. They either love them or hate them. A lot of education is still needed and this is part of our ongoing mission," says Bridgette.
FBR goes above and beyond just rescuing dogs. They provide additional programs including educational, therapy, and volunteer services. The educational services focus on basic breed education and pet care, how to approach a dog safely, how to read an animal's body language for dog bite prevention, dog fighting, abuse, neglect, the importance of spaying and neutering and the consequences of backyard breeding. With regard to therapy services, FBR brings certified shelter dogs to senior assisted living facilities, homeless care facilities, and disabled veterans programs at no cost. The rescue also hosts monthly volunteer orientations for people interested in making a difference in the community.
Running a rescue can be incredibly rewarding, but also very trying, both emotionally and physically.
"Not being able to help all of the dogs in need can be overwhelming. Having to say "no" to the many awesome dogs needing rescue when you simply don't have the space or resources can be pretty discouraging. It sometimes feels that you are mowing a football field with scissors - never-ending. But focusing on the ones you are able to save and help is what keeps you going forward. Seeing the life change for even one dog is worth it," says Bridgette.
Fresno Bully Rescue houses around 40 rescue dogs at any time in their facility and works with local foster caretakers throughout the California Central Valley for other dogs they rescue. Each year FBR rescues an average of around 170 or so dogs, and are solely dependent on private donors and community support.
As for the future, FBR plans on continuing to grow their programs and spread the importance of spay and neutering. If you'd like to donate to Fresno Bully Rescue, click here. Please also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or check out their available dogs here.
British restaurateur, author, actress, and television personality Lisa Vanderpump has added "animal rights activist" to her long list of accomplishments. In 2015, after witnessing the horrific images of slaughter and abuse of dogs in preparation for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which in an annual event in Yulin, China, Lisa was determined to do something about this. Executive Director, Dr. John Sessa, recalls,
"[Lisa] immediately started emailing me and calling her husband Ken to see what we could do about it. We immediately made a PSA with Sharon Osborne, executed a large demonstration in front of the Chinese Consulate and made several trips to Washington DC to lobby for House Resolution 401, which we helped author."
It was around this same time that Lisa, Ken, and John realized the huge dog homeless and overpopulation problem occurring in their own backyard in Southern California. In Los Angeles alone, over 3,000 dogs are euthanized in city and county shelters each year. The three knew they had to help, so they started The Vanderpump Dog Foundation in 2016 and opened the Vanderpump Dogs Los Angeles Rescue Center just over a year ago. The Rescue Center is swanky and brings the "Vanderpump" flare and style complete with jazz music, velvet couches, and even chandeliers.
Check out our Q&A with Dr. Sessa below:
What are the biggest challenges Vanderpump Dogs faces?
Dr. Sessa: We have been able to become a huge voice for the voiceless in a very short amount of time and I think our biggest challenge is keeping up with the demand for help. We get hundreds of calls and emails every day about dogs domestically and around the world that need our assistance. It is our duty to make sure we are a source for information and resources for everyone reaching out to us and help as many as we can.
Running a rescue and helping dogs can be tough both emotionally and physically. Can you share a tough experience or trying moment for the organization, and what you did to overcome it?
Dr. Sessa: We have a very dedicated and compassionate team, who strive to help every dog who needs our assistance. I think the biggest struggle and experience we have to continually get over is the inability to help every dog that comes our way. I just always remind the staff that we can help as many dogs as possible today and with our larger legislation and education efforts, we will eventually be able to effect change on a long term and be able to help all dogs. Dealing with loss is always difficult, but a part of the job when rescuing.
Do all of the dogs you rescue stay in the Rescue Center or do you have a network of fosters in the LA area that help care for the dogs as well?
Dr. Sessa: We do a combination of both fosters and in-house dogs. Our volunteers and fosters have become such an important part of running the non-profit and making sure to keep expenses at a minimum.
Where does your primary financial support come from?
Dr. Sessa: Originally our financial support was solely from Ken and Lisa, which can get tasking and expensive. Thankfully, the model that we have built has a revenue producing entity with our grooming, retail and adoptions. This contributes to about half of our total overhead, our annual fundraisers (World Dog Day and our Gala) produce a significant portion and our wonderful donors contribute the rest.
How many dogs on average do you place in their forever homes annually?
Dr. Sessa: The first year of operations, we successfully rescued and rehomed 500 dogs. Our goal is to double that this year!
For those reading this, if they want to help fight the good fight, what can they do to help?
Dr. Sessa: I suggest they go to www.vanderpumpdogs.org and help our efforts by building your own fundraising team or join one of our existing teams. We have competitions for groups to win prizes, as well as, raise money for our dogs - so it is a win win! Also - there are several other ways to show your support and they are listed on the website.
What are the plans for the future of Vanderpump Dogs?
Additionally, we are continuing our rescue efforts locally (hoping to double our adoption numbers from last year) and internationally, bringing much needed supplies for dogs to third world and impoverished countries.
In the long term, we would like to eventually open a sanctuary and rescue operation in Malibu on a significant parcel of land.
We are incredibly honored to feature Family Dog Rescue as our Rescue of the Month for May. The story behind this amazing organization is truly inspiring and a testament to the power of a dog's love.
Angela Padilla had to fight for her own life before she could fight for the lives of dogs. She was diagnosed with a very aggressive and high-risk form of breast cancer in 2002 when she was only 36 years old. During her cancer treatment, Angela started working for rescues and shelters in San Francisco and spent every afternoon socializing dogs. She also eventually became a foster for hundreds of homeless dogs.
Angela noticed that there was a symbiotic relationship between herself and the dogs. Looking back, she almost feels like she was rescued by the dogs she helped and not the other way around.
"Saving dogs helped save my life. The profound love that rescue dogs give to the people who save them helped me win my battle with breast cancer," says Angela.
Determined to go into remission after fighting cancer for a year, Angela returned to work. She noticed the curative role her rescue dogs, Hooch, Molly, and Sparkle, played in her recovery and was determined to help find amazing homes for great dogs. In 2010, she decided to start her own rescue, Family Dog Rescue, focused on making it easier for families to adopt a dog.
Family Dog Rescue is a kennel-free shelter in San Francisco, which houses most of their dogs, but some of their dogs are placed in loving homes within their trusted foster network. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, they are entirely supported by individual and corporate donations. "We are an organization with a large heart but a small budget. Our biggest challenge is meeting our financial goals to rescue, provide medical care and re-home over 800 deserving pups each year," says Angela.
As Family Dog Rescue looks to the future, they hope to soon be able to sponsor mobile spay/neuter clinics in under-served areas of California. If you want to help this amazing organization, you can donate here, check out their adoptable dogs, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
After volunteering for a national French Bulldog rescue in 2010, Megan Gates started learning what "the world of rescue" meant and stood for. What she learned changed her life forever.
After attending several commercial breeder dog auctions and finding out the eye-opening truth, Megan started to spread the knowledge she had gained. In 2013, she founded SNAFU (Short Noses And Friends United) Rescue and decided to do what she could to help the dogs in the commercial breeding system.
SNAFU does this by networking with commercial and private breeders for breeder releases. The organization also raises money in order to attend commercial breeder auctions and purchase dogs to free them from the commercial breeding system. It is a tough balance of bidding responsibly in order to help dogs in need but also not contributing to the problem.
Based on their name, SNAFU primarily rescues English and French Bulldogs. "There are many breed specific rescues around, and some of the other breeds already had rescues. Due to our love of short noses and the need for a rescue, we decided to focus mostly on them," said Megan.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, SNAFU receives most financial support from individual donors and fundraising activities. This is also one of their biggest challenges, as they continuously need financial resources to cover many vet bills and expenses that are incurred.
All dogs rescued by SNAFU are cared for by foster homes as they organization does not have a facility. On average they rescue between 25-30 dogs a year, but they are starting to grow significantly. "We would love to continue to grow and assist as many dogs as we can by helping get them out of the commercial breeding system, and helping any dogs who are unwanted in their current homes. We do also take on a few dogs who are surrendered due to behavioral issues. We will continue to educate and make an impact in the lives of short noses in need."
This month we're excited to name Compassion Without Borders as our Rescue of the Month! Country lines don't stop this amazing organization from helping dogs in need.
Christi and Moncho Camblor started Compassion Without Borders in 2001, with the vision of helping provide brighter futures for animals both in Mexico and in the United States. CWOB was born out of a clear understanding that all dogs deserve a fighting chance to live a great life, regardless of their geographic location. "We have a focus on Mexico because the need is so great and there are so few programs to help animals south of the border," said Christi.
"The magnitude of their suffering, the bleak and harsh landscape into which they were born, the total and complete lack of humane options for these animals, it screams to me from south of the border and calls me forward to do whatever I can," Christi writes in another post.
CWOB has established four programs that are the cornerstone of the organization's mission, which include Mexico Dog Rescue, US Dog Rescue, Veterinary Wellness Clinics & Spay/Neuter Services. They also actively help other rescue groups in the US and Mexico to provide outreach for humane rescue education and training seminars.
Last year alone, Compassion Without Borders rescued over 600 dogs. They have a shelter located in Santa Rosa, California but also rely on a network of foster families located in the Santa Rosa area. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, CWOB is dependent on donations from individual supporters. This also proves to be CWOB's biggest challenge. As a result, Christi and Moncho are constantly navigating the best ways to have the most impact with their limited resources and staff while maintaining their amazing programs.
Just like the future of the dogs they rescue, CWOB's future looks bright with plans of opening a shelter in Mexico for orphaned puppies, nursing mothers, and their litters. Christi and Moncho also have a capital campaign in the works for 2019 to renovate their shelter and open a sliding scale clinic for low-income families.
This month we are featuring Los Angeles-based rescue organization, A Purposeful Rescue, as our Rescue of the Month. We sat down with founder, Hillary Rosen, who calls each dog she rescues a ‘magical unicorn’.
Life was never the same for Hillary Rosen after stepping foot into her first animal shelter during the summer of 2012. She immediately realized how big of a challenge animal shelters faced with limited space and a lack of financial resources. Within 24 hours, Hillary rescued her first dog - an 80 pound Rottweiler/Pitbull mix named Marley. Within two weeks she had found Marley an amazing forever home. It was in this moment that she felt the undeniable need to help as many dogs as she could, so she decided to start A Purposeful Rescue.
One of her biggest challenges is “managing work and the rescue - there is not enough time in the day, however, we run a pretty tight ship and get a lot done for being such a small organization,” Hillary said. She attributes much of the amazing work to the volunteers who donate their time to rescuing dogs and providing the necessary care.
Hillary and team are very active within the Los Angeles community and work with their friends at Downtown Dog Rescue and Home Dog LA, who each run intervention programs at both the South LA Shelter and North Central Shelter.
A Purposeful Rescue relies primarily on individual donors, but also likes to tap into each volunteer’s strengths. In another interview, Hillary mentioned that “not everyone can walk into a shelter and volunteer and not everyone can foster a dog. There is so much more to running a non-profit pet rescue than fostering and adopting. We always need help with fundraising, events, transportation of dogs to vets and fosters, accounting, and social media, to name a few things on the list of needs.”
To date, A Purposeful Rescue has rescued somewhere around 600 dogs in over five short years. “Our big goal is to have our own animal hospital where people who don't have the financial resources can come and will be provided free or low cost good vet care,” said Hillary.
To help this amazing organization take one step closer to opening their own animal hospital, Neptune & Co. will be donating $1 at a minimum for every product sold to A Purposeful Rescue for the entire month of January. Follow their amazing work on Instagram, Facebook, and their website.
Helping rescue dogs is woven into the very fabric of Neptune & Co. There is no better way to celebrate our official launch this month than by featuring Muttville Senior Dog Rescue based in our hometown of San Francisco, California. During the entire month of December, we will be donating $1 for every product purchased to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.
Muttville Senior Dog Rescue was founded in 2007 by superstar animal advocate, Sherri Franklin. She was inspired to start Muttville after volunteering at local shelters around San Francisco and noticing that senior dogs were always being passed up by potential adopters. She remembers thinking "I had to take action! When I started Muttville, many shelters assumed seniors were 'unadoptable' and routinely euthanized them." Muttville started in Sherri's home and she saved 27 dogs that first year.
In 2012, the SPCA generously allowed Muttville to rent an old administrative space. This allowed Sherri to move the operation out of her house. Amazingly, they have saved the lives of over 5,000 senior dogs since 2007, with over 1,000 of those dogs rescued this year alone.
Aligned with the organization's mission statement, Muttville's biggest success has been helping to change the way people think about senior animals. Sherri explains, "When I founded Muttville, we thought most of our adopters would be senior citizens. We still have a strong and dedicated Seniors for Seniors program (we waive the adoption fee for senior citizens), but many of our adopters are young families and millennials who bring their Muttville dogs to work with them!"
Muttville relies solely on individual donations, which is also one of their biggest challenges. "Most of our dogs come in need of dentals, which range from $700 to $4,000 in cost. On average, we spend $1,600 per dog to get them ready for adoption. Veterinary costs add up quickly!", says Sherri.
As for the future, Sherri told us "We are looking forward to more dogs being rescued. More seniors finding homes. More people understanding that adoption is a lifetime commitment, and that those last years can be the best years. More senior people realizing what a wonderful difference a senior dog can make in their lives. And more families falling in love."
Donate to Muttville by clicking here.
Here are some dogs currently available at Muttville looking for a forever home.
|Corgi Mix, Female, 8 yrs||Spaniel Mix, Male, 9 yrs||
Chihuahua Mix, Female, 10 yrs
|Papa Lolo||Pumpkin Spice||Tickles|
|Pekingese Mix, Male, Hospice||
Chihuahua Mix, Female, 8 yrs
|Poodle Mix, Female, Age Unknown|
Dachshund, Female, 9 yrs
Jack Russell Terrier Mix, Male, Age Unknown
Maltese/Poodle Mix, Male, 7 yrs