A while back I was chatting with my cousin Mary about her volunteer activities. It was clear from how quickly and completely she became involved that it was a true passion project for her, and so I wanted to share her story with you. Here it is, in her own words:
What is your passion project?
I volunteer with Boston Terrier Rescue of East Tennessee (BTRET), which covers 12 Southeastern states including Florida. I run the Facebook page for the Florida division. I also run online auctions to help raise funds for the rescue. These funds are so important because BTRET is a non-profit. Items are donated by people who want to help out but cannot foster. The money raised goes directly to the rescue to pay for vetting costs which include vaccinations, spay/neuter, medications, and emergency care.
Rescues are huge networks of people who foster, sponsor, transport, and adopt. My rescue is breed specific (not all are), but we take mixes and other non-Boston breeds unlike a lot of breed-specific organizations.
Why do animal rescues matter?
Animal rescues are important because they step in to help animals that would not have a chance otherwise. As the American Humane Association says, “an estimated 3.7 million unwanted pets must be euthanized at animal shelters every year—many because they could not find families to adopt them.”
There are many facets to animal rescue. Dogs that are offered for nominal fees or “free to good home” online are at high risk of being used as bait dogs for fighting. Hoarding and breeder dumping, which is where breeders discard dogs that aren’t reproducing, are another factor. We also do shelter rescues, which include strays and “owner surrenders.” Dogs picked up as strays by animal control have what is called a “stray hold” which varies from 3-7 days depending on the organization to give an owner time to find their lost dog. Sadly when people surrender their dog, they don’t seem to care what happens to it, they just don’t want to deal with it any longer. These dogs are at high risk of being euthanized if not adopted within a few days.
Many young and healthy dogs are adopted at shelters by private citizens but older or medically needy dogs are overlooked and that is one reason why rescue is so important. Many times medically needy or injured dogs just need a chance to get well or need care that shelters cannot provide so we will take them in, get them into a foster home and help them recuperate and eventually get them a forever home.
Shelter dogs are almost always at risk of euthanasia unless they are lucky enough to land in a no-kill shelter which are rare. Shelters euthanize dogs for many reasons, including lack of space to house new animals.
Foster homes are so important. People volunteer to love the dog and provide food and shelter and the rescue pays for vet bills. The foster houses the dog until it is adopted. Fosters are screened and home visits are required.
How did you get involved?
My friend Renee, who lives in Atlanta, is very involved in BTRET. I adopted Yoshi, who was one of her foster dogs. Yoshi was part of a terrible hoarding case. I never knew a Boston until Yoshi (she’s a mix) but I fell in love with their silly, quirky personalities. They are funny little dogs.
When I learned more about the issues, I wanted to help. One day I saw a free Boston Terrier listed on Craigslist and I went and got him, found him a foster home, and I was hooked.
What do you do?
I rescue dogs from many different situations including shelters, Craigslist, “owner surrenders” and the occasional stray. Many shelters will notify us that they have a dog that needs our help.
I have personally had seven foster dogs at one time or another, and assisted in transporting more than I can count. Transporting is just helping the dog get from one place to another. I have driven as many as 8 hours round trip and as few as 30 minutes.
I have two of my own dogs: Yoshi and Walden, who I adopted recently. I currently have three fosters: Murphy, Petunia, and Sully. Two of my past fosters, Pippa and Lilly, were adopted by friends.
There is a coordinator for every state our rescue covers and that person is the liaison between the shelter and the volunteer who picks up the dog from the shelter. Some months there are so many dogs that need help it’s overwhelming and other months it’s quiet. Sadly, due to overbreeding and the “I only want a puppy” syndrome, it will never end until the laws are changed and puppy mills are shut down, but that’s a whole different can of worms…
How would someone else get involved in animal rescue? How do you find one?
People can get involved in many different ways: fostering, adopting from a rescue or shelter instead of buying from a pet store, transporting, donating, and sponsoring.
Those who wish to find a rescue can easily find one online by using a search engine. I would just caution that they research the rescue and make sure they are a non-profit.
Why is this a passion project for you?
This is the best thing I’ve ever done by a landslide. I adore helping these dogs so much because some of them have been so mistreated and abused but they still trust humans miraculously and I can see the love and gratitude in their sweet eyes. The fulfillment I get from them is beyond measure and they give me more than I could ever give them.
To learn more about Boston Terrier Rescue of Eastern Tennessee, visit their website: www.bostonterriertn.org. Donations can be made online. If you would like to get involved with BTRET, you can contact Mary here.
Do you have a passion project? I’d love to know more.