1) How long have you been involved in animal rescue?
Pretty much my whole life. The dog I had growing up, Lady, was a lab/shepherd/hound mix adopted by my family when she was 6 months old. Her first owner had tied her to a tree when she was just a puppy. She came into our family and gave us 13 amazing years, and was an incredible companion to my parents, my 3 sisters, and me. Last year, my husband and I decided we were ready to bring a dog into our family. Having had a Jack Russell Terrier as his family pet growing up, he wouldn't settle for any other breed, and having grown up with a shelter dog, I wouldn't settle for bringing anything different into our life. That's how we ended up finding Lucky Dog and our pup Ollie.
2) How long have you been involved with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue?
adopted Ollie 1 yr and 3 months ago, and I started volunteering not long after that because my life had been so completely enriched by the work of Lucky Dog's volunteers and my dog. My adoption experience was seamless, well organized, and thorough, so I was surprised to find out that it's 100% volunteer based (even Mirah Horowitz, the founder and Executive Director, works a full-time job outside of all she does for Lucky Dog). When I learned that volunteers were the backbone of the organization, I wanted to get involved, and started out by handling dogs at weekly adoption events. Shortly after, I took in my first foster dog, and now I help coordinate events and screen adoption applications. Every layer of volunteers is crucial in saving lives and making happy adoptions happen, and I really enjoy the opportunities that Lucky Dog offers to do as much or little as its volunteers are able to fit in their schedules.
3) How do your core values of animal care fare with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue's mission?
Dog's adoption process is based on placing our pups (and kitties) in the best homes for them as possible, and knowing there is a place for every adoptable. Sometimes it takes a little longer to find a home for a dog that needs a second dog because of shyness, or on the flip side, a home without a second dog because of some reactivity.
What I love about Lucky Dog is they don't give up on their fosters. While some adoptions happen more quickly, sometimes it takes months, or even over a year to find the right family for a Lucky Dog. Sometimes that means when a dog is in our foster care they require extensive training or medical resources, but we don't give up on them. Our incredible network of volunteers, vet partners, and trainers make it possible to put every dog in the right home.
The other thing I love is that our forever families are equipped with resources to be successful, and the relationship with Lucky Dog doesn't end once the adoption contract is signed. I've had adopters come back to me months later with a question, or a training concern, and we are there to help them work through it.
4) With so many sad stories and the condition some animals come into Lucky Dog Animal Rescue how do you stay positive?
It's true that some of our dogs come from really sad situations, but when they become a Lucky Dog I know they are in a good place. We might not be able to save them all, but we have saved over 4,000 since our inception in 2009, and that's a really big victory. And with every transport of new dogs, I can't help but be overwhelmed with joy for the new life these dogs are getting. I don't know how my own Lucky Dog ended up in a high-kill shelter, but I like to think his story really began with us once we became his forever. Even to see all of our Lucky Dog in-shelter pictures and compare them to their faces at their first DC adoption event, it totally warms my heart. It's like the second they walk into their foster or forever home, know that it's the start of a new life for them.
5) Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is very active in the community how do you manage it all?
It takes a village, and we are fortunate to have an extensive volunteer network from as far north as Baltimore County, MD to as far south as Prince William County, VA. It helps that we have volunteers in many pockets of our area to help us reach a vast audience, but it also helps to have incredibly committed volunteers willing to do anything for our dogs. For example, we have some dogs who stay with a boarding partner in Southern MD, and one volunteer who consistently drives from is home in Fairfax to pick them up and ensure they get to events all over the map. It's really incredible the lengths people go to show their support for our pups.
6) Are you a guardian of pets (personally)?
Yes. I have adopted 2 cats (age 9 and 3). and my own Lucky Dog, a 2 year old JRT. We also usually play guardian to a Lucky foster dog (or as Ollie tends to think, a live-in playmate for him:)). Our current foster, a super sweet but slightly shy Dachsund/Shepherd mix, has been with us for a little over 2 months now.
7) How did you hear about The Pretty Chic with the Pits, LLC?
Thanks to Kelli's invitation to participate in the first Pits & Pumps event, which we are so grateful for and excited about!
8) What do you expect to come out of Pits & Pumps?
My hope is that people will walk away more educated, and therefore more accepting, about bully breeds. Lucky Dog works to adopt out all breeds of dogs, and we do face challenges with these guys because of county laws related to Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), housing restrictions about specific breeds, and a general unfair stigma that is attached to them. I had fostered a rottie/lab mix a couple months back, and people we encountered on walks were visibly uncomfortable to come near us, simply because of her looks. What they didn't realize was that she was a giant lap dog, and completely friendly to adults, kids, and dogs. Once people saw her in action at the dog park, or in her interactions with my nieces and nephew, their perception changed pretty quickly.
It kind of blows my mind that people are willing to assume that banning breeds solves a problem that really lies in irresponsible pet ownership (or in its worst form, abuse and neglect). And really, strong and energetic dogs like these guys aren't for everyone. But Chihuahuas, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Jack Russell Terriers also aren't for everyone, and you'd be hard pressed to find breed specific laws against any of them.
We do careful additional screening with adopters interested in our bullies and rotties to explain the extra responsibility that comes with adopting one, and to instill a sense understanding about how important it is to be an extra good dog-owner so our adopted bullies can be ambassadors for the breed. It's really only a small portion of the battle, but I hope continued educational efforts in events like this help keep us on the right track in making forward progress.