Animal Rescue of the Week: Episode 52 – 2DaRescue

2DaRescue is an all-breed 501c3 dog rescue dedicated to saving the lives of dogs suffering in the county shelters, streets, as well as those surrendered by their owners prior to being brought to the shelter. Aside from rescuing dogs, they rehabilitate them medically and behaviourally. Dogs are carefully checked by their vets and provide them with everything they need to be successfully placed into an appropriate home.

Website: to the ARPA Animal Rescue of the week podcast, featuring outstanding organizations around the country that are helping animals & the peoplee who rescue them. This podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues & shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal rescue.

2DaRescue is an all-breed nonprofit dog rescue dedicated to saving the lives of dogs suffering in the county shelters streets as well as those surrendered by their owners, prior to being brought to the shelter. Aside from rescuing dogs, they rehabilitate them medically and behaviorally. Dogs are carefully checked by their vets and provide them with everything they need to be successfully placed into an appropriate home.

Hi Karen, thanks for joining the show today. Thank you for inviting me. I’m really excited to be here. Of course, you’re very welcome. I am so stoked to be able to talk to you today and learn more about your organization. So you are the Founder of 2DaRescue in Arizona, is that correct? That is, I am the Founder. Awesome. So can you just kind of start by letting us know where exactly you’re located in a little bit about your organization? Absolutely. So we’re founded in 2012. I had been volunteering for another organization, and I come from a medical background. So I was kind of appalled at the lack of proper care the dogs was needing.

You know, I believe that, you know, the dog should be thoroughly vetted, which is challenging, because we work on limited resources. So I was talking to my husband one day and kind of pondering starting my own rescue, and he backed me up on it. And he’s like, “do it.” So I just did. I wrote my articles and had a little bit of help from one of our attorneys as pro bono. And then we started 2DaRescue in 2012. So I just found the need for the animals to get better care and more dogs need to be helped. And we’re strictly a dog rescue. And a 501(c)(3).

Where exactly are you guys located in Arizona? So we started out foster-based, and I was in Mesa, Arizona, where I currently live now still, and then we’ve had three separate buildings and they’ve all been kind of in the same area. And now I board are bigger dogs downtown by the airport. You know, either way you do it is challenging. If you have a building, it’s challenging because then you have to staff it. And if you have foster-based, all the dogs end up at your house when they’re sick or the fosters going to vacation or there’s behavioral medical challenges, people sometimes want to help but then find that when there is major challenges, they’re just not equipped to deal with it.

Yeah, definitely. And I think that a lot of people miss out on that aspect of animal rescue is it’s not just, you know, super easy all the time. There’s tough cases, and so I think it’s great, you know that you guys kind of moved from foster-based and you kind of moved up and you got a building. But you did mention that you do have to staff those buildings, and that could be troubling sometimes.

So for your organization, what would you say is your ultimate mission at 2DaRescue? So our mission and what we have been doing is to address all of the needs of the animals that we take in. We don’t deny any animals, whether it’s an owner surrender or a dog off the streets with no vaccines, we pull dogs from Mexico. We pull dogs from New Mexico, which sometimes is controversial because a lot of rescuers believe we should only pull in, you know, Maricopa County. But a lot of the dogs in our county system are Pit bulls and Chihuahuas.

So I’ve learned, unfortunately, dogs are gonna be euthanized no matter what you do. And so sometimes you’re spinning your wheels by taking unadoptable dogs. So I try to look for adoptable dogs that will help support the behaviorally or medically challenged dogs that we take in. So it’s a good balance, and you have to stay balanced and healthy and mentally physically, financially, help you just stay in the industry because there’s a lot of burnout.

It seems like you’re very in tune with kind of what’s going on in your area and the animals that you guys are kind of receiving. And you just mentioned that you guys pull dogs from different areas, Mexico being included. So just from hearing you, you transport quite a bit of animals. We do, we have transporters that will transport the dogs for us from those places. So the challenging part is, to get them care right away and do a thorough job, and it’s very expensive. So it’s trying to balance the budget all the time and beg for money.

But you were asking about my ultimate goal. Right now, I’m focusing a lot on learning dog training and tending seminars. I just applied for a job with PetSmart to learn their basics dog training skills. I know a lot about addressing behavioral issues like the severe issues, but I want to go back to square one, because what I’ve realized is that we can really rehabilitate a lot of dogs. But once they get in the home, they have a lot of anxiety or behavioral issues, and sometimes we get the dogs back.

So in addition to doing awesome screening of the dogs, I want to be awesome at helping our adopters have some lower cost trainings. So I’m thinking about doing some dog training on the side and in conjunction with the shelters that we can offer our adopters low cost training help as well. Wow, that’s pretty awesome. So I think it’s great that you’re trying to get some background in the dog training. I think it’s great that you recognize that, and you’re working towards it. Yeah.

So one of the questions that I had when you were talking about the transport, I just went back up here. When you say that you have transporters that help, you kind of bring in animals and find them and rescue them and pull from different places. Are those transporters volunteers that you have? Or are they may be partner rescues? Or who are they? So their partner rescuers from out of state. So there’s transporters that will save the dog is in Nogales or Hermosillo, Mexico. There’s a transporter in Mexico that will transport the dog to the border. And then there’s people that are volunteers that will pick the dog up at the border and then bring them the to Tucson. And then I might drive Tucson or have a volunteer drive to Tucson. Or they might bring them all the way, just depending on who we get.

So there’s a lot of wonderful women in rescue that volunteer their time and gas money to help about. So it’s a group effort, and it’s finding that people that you can rely on and that you work well within that we respect each other and help each other out. And it’s an amazing community of rescuers throughout. I deal a lot with New Mexico, so they’re kind of by the border, like El Paso, Santa Cruz, Deming, New Mexico area. And so they have a lot of dogs and they need help, or they will be euthanized, so we try to just pluck out the really adoptable dogs, and the downside we’ll pull dogs and then find out they have heartworm. I’ve had five heartworm cases in the last six months that we treated makes it a little bit challenging, but my belief is that all dogs deserve a chance. But you can’t save every dog.

So I’m on Aubrey Dog Rescues, so it’s really fun because we deal with so many breeds. So we have a lot of different dogs to offer. Big, small, I just took in a mom and puppies from Mexico, and she was living on the streets just trying to survive And she was emaciated, has tick fever and trying to nurse seven babies. Oh, my gosh. Yeah, and thankfully, everybody’s healthy and doing really well now, you know, that mom was just spent, she probably would have died in the next few days had she not been picked up by rescue in Mexico. That is amazing. So I’m assuming that the rescues that you’re partnered with a kind of let you know “hey, we have this dog. We noticed she’s been walking around,” and that’s kind of how you know? Yes, you know, we don’t see any borders or boundaries. We just help the dogs that we can help do a variety.

We take some medical cases and then take in other cases, like I just received a little golden retriever puppy who’s absolutely adorable, asked a little bit more for their fee. And then they helped pay for the dogs that, you know, I have an elderly dog that needs the dental, so we try to balance it out. It seems like you’re doing such an awesome job and the fact that you’re able to build relationships with other people from other organizations. I mean, just hearing you talk about some of the people at the partner rescues. It’s awesome to hear that you guys are working together towards the same goal with no borders or boundaries. So you shared with us a little bit about where your partner rescues are in the area that they’re in. What kind of an area are you in? I know that you mentioned you have a lot of Pit bulls and Chihuahuas, but what’s the community like in your area for animals? It’s really terrible.

So we’re in Maricopa County. There’s a lot of backyard breeding going on. There’s backyard breeding everywhere, whether it’s in the nicer communities and they’re reading golden poodles to the people, breeding Chihuahuas in their backyard. So we call them backyard breeders because they take dogs with the intention of just trying to make money and they charge a lot. We have a lot of Parvo in the area to, so a lot of the dogs aren’t vaccinated properly. They’re not receiving the right care, and then people unknowingly wants something different than what Maricopa County has to offer because there’s so many Pit bulls and Chihuahuas there. So they go to these backyard breeders and they buy a dog and then the dog gets sick and dies, you know, because they haven’t received proper cure.

So we’re predominantly Pit bulls and Chihuahuas, and that’s the problem. So I used to rescue a lot of Pit bulls. I love the breed. I’m not against the breed, and there’s a lot of controversy about that. But last year I was bitten severely by a dog that I was caring for, and I wasn’t handling the dog somebody else was and the dog latched on to me. And you know, it’s just really taking a risk because you don’t know their true personality. And a lot of people go to Maricopa County, adopt a Pit bull, take it home and then are not equipped to deal with a dog that hasn’t been properly socialized or that suddenly starts, takes down the family Chihuahua and kills it. And some of them are genetically made great, I mean, they’re awesome dogs, and they can be awesome dogs. But you know my opinion after doing this for 10 years is that population, the Pit bulls are very high risk and high liability.

It definitely seems like you’ve got quite the issue in your area. I do want to point out the fact that, you know, you just shared that you were severely bitten by a dog and the fact that you still do what you do and rescue and take that time. I think that that is truly amazing of you to still do that. Yeah, we’re one of the highest kill areas in the country, Maricopa County is. And so Maricopa County for a while, they were doing a lot of euthanizing dogs, predominantly Pit bulls. And then the public would come in and petition and hold signs and call them murderers and they don’t understand. I mean, when you shove a bunch of dogs in the kennels because you don’t want to be called murderers, then they start redirecting on each other, and they literally will kill each other because of overcrowding in our shelters. And then there’s more disease then the shelter has to close down because they have an outbreak of a disease that happened recently. And people have to be realistic and balanced. You cannot save every dog, right now. This is not the answer.

The answer is legislation and petitioning for—to end backyard breeding to end breeders being allowed to sell their dogs in pet stores. And we did that for a while. Now they’re allowed to sell their dogs and pet stores again. So I don’t—not saying that there shouldn’t be breeders if we don’t have true, responsible good breeders that do the right thing in there. AKC register or whatever, they will lose the pure bred dogs, but the backyard breeders need to be shut down. End of story, or we will always have this problem, and it’s just getting worse. And to blame our county, who does their best to try to help animals and call them murderers. I would love them to follow that one day and have to go and euthanize a dog and see what that feels like, because it’s terrible. The volunteers go in there and give them cheeseburgers and give them love, and then they’re euthanized. It’s sad, it’s just tragic.

So Karen, do you guys as an organization and I know you partner with a few different organizations? Do you guys put on any type of educational programs or anything of that nature to kind of help your community on these issues or any programs that you guys offer. Really, that’s a great question. We as rescues, try to educate the public. However, there needs to be more of it. If I had the time, I would, and I hope this happens one day. I don’t know where I’ll find the time, but I would love to go into schools because children need to learn to be kind to animals and to have that knowledge base, because if they learn, then when they grow up they can understand better, I think.

But the parents today, you know, they want what they want. They want the little fluffy dog off of Craigslist. They don’t want to go in a Maricopa County and pull a Pit bull or a Chihuahua. So that’s why I think it makes more sense to try to get the dogs adopted that are adaptable. And then we still save unadoptable dogs. I mean, I have several dogs I have been working on. I have won three years, and he’s completely normal now and then. I have a couple of dogs I’ve been working on seven months, eight months, you know, they go through a lot of trauma, and that produces just like people, some really serious issues with their mental capacity.

They have a lot of anxiety, a lot of separation anxiety than they go into a house and destroy things. And so, you know, I pull. I’m partners with Maricopa County Whole Brock, Stafford, Canal County. So I don’t pull dogs from our county. I don’t just pull dogs from out of state, but it’s difficult, you know. And there’s rescuers work against each other because they have different. Some of them are unhealthy, and they just think we should save every dog. And that’s simply not possible. You have to come from a place of being reasonable. This isn’t the problem. The problem is the backyard breeding.

Yeah, and I think that that goes for areas to each organization within a different areas, facing different issues, some similar some completely different. And I feel like the organizations have to deal with their certain struggles in the best way that they know how. And so that’s why I like talking to different organizations in different areas because I’ve picked up on so much of how diverse this industry is and what one state faces as opposed to another, they truly eye opening, it really is. But one of the things that kind of popped up in my mind when you were sharing a little bit of information was, how long does an animal usually stay in your care? Like, what’s their turnaround time from the time you receive them to when they get adopted? Our average turnaround time is about two weeks. Okay.

So we adopt out about last year we were at 340, I believe. So it’s a decent amount, and we’re partners with a group called PACC 911 and it’s a Phoenix animal care and coalition. You have to apply to join their team and Bari Mears is the head of that. And she does a great job trying to get more public awareness out education. They do fundraising for medical if you’re part of our team, but you have to apply and be a responsible rescue. You have to be a 501(c)(3), have ethical, you know adoptions and your dogs have to be taken care of. If you’re not properly taking care of your dogs, you get kicked off the team.

So our rescue partners, we do group events four times a year in different locations. And in our last event we had 15 adopted over one weekend. That’s awesome. There is a lot of good partnership here. We do the best we can. But the problems sits with legislation and more lobbying and the law’s changing period. And that’s tough too, I mean, you know, you feel like you kind of get up to speed with one law, and then it changes again. Yeah. No, I mean, they petition to say no more animals sold in pet stores and then two years later, that law changes. And then you have to start all over again.

So it’s tragic and there’s a lot of people that just burn themselves out and get unhealthy and they hoard dogs. And then you hear, you know, some of the rescues that I admired when I first started and I wanted to mimic them, are looked up to them, have been shut down because they were doing a good job. They were over pulling and then not thoroughly vetting or hoarding dogs. And then you know, it’s so hard because at one time you admire them and you aspired to be like them. And then to find out that they were doing something terrible is not a good situation. Yeah and it’s not a good feeling.

Yeah, and you know, all the drama that goes with it on social media. So I have one of my team members do the social media and I just stay off because people tend to just randomly go off on each other. I mean, as rescuers, we should all be a team and not fighting against each other, and there’s course a lot of that going on. Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of that going on. And I feel to your point, if we’re all working towards the same goal, we should be open about working with each other. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, and I think that that’s with any industry, really. But in the animal welfare industry, it’s sad because we’re trying to save more animals and save more lives and give as many animals a second chances we can. But I feel like ultimately, if you’re doing your part and you’re willing to work with other organizations, that’s what’s most important. You know, we can’t change everybody, but we can make a difference doing what we believe in. Absolutely.

So, I noticed on your website that every animal in your care that gets adopted out has their vaccines and gets microchipped. Do you have a local vet that you work with that kind of you’ve partnered with to do like low cost vaccinations? Yeah, we have our primary vet and they give us 20% discount. So, of course, the amount of money that we spend that’s not a lot, but it’s something. A lot of the public, you know, they believe that we get free care. And so if our adoption fees are $250 for an adult dog and $350 for a puppy, and that barely covers the cost of vetting and we also—I started adding a 4DX to every dog that we do and that tests for heartworm disease and take foreign diseases because we’re seeing more heartworm in our state, where a very transient community lot of people move to Phoenix. You know, our growth is phenomenal and they’re bringing their dogs from the Midwest with heartworm because they’ve never tested or treated them, and so they’re infecting the dogs in Arizona. So we’ve never really had a heart problem in Arizona, and now we’re seeing that because of that.

So in the whole picture, it’s only an extra $35 to test them. And like I said, we just had five heartworm cases. But the treatment is hugely expensive, so it’s about $1,500 per dog. And we also do dentals and, you know, again, their teeth or part of their health.  Rehabbing behaviorally is part of their health. So we look at all three components. We look at the medical, dental, behavioral components of the dog, and we treat everything. When I first started, I thought you’d take a dog out of the shelter and you get a home. But it is so much more complex than that. So coming from a medical background, I was an RN for over 20 years, I’m retired from nursing. I vaccinate our dogs. I get them from Revival Animal Health, where a lot of the vets get their vaccine. It’s a reputable company. They shipped them properly. They’re stored properly, and I know how to give it properly. So that saves some money. I microchip myself. So that saves a little bit.

Every dog’s microchipped so they won’t be homeless again. It’ll always come back to me if the owner doesn’t want their dog back, so we are accountable in that way as well. And then every dog gets a 4DX test. So if they have a tic-borne disease, that’s 30 days of Doxycycline. Before you could even spay or neuter the dogs. So if we’re boarding the dog at a boarding facility, we incur that cost at boarding before we could even get them spayed or neutered and every dog is spayed and neutered before we adopt them out. Unless there’s a medical reason they can’t be.

You know, you make sure that these animals are very well taken care of on vaccines and microchipping and one of the things that you just pointed out I love you said that every animal is microchipped, and if their owner doesn’t want them anymore, they come back to you. I find that awesome because you are doing your part in ensuring that the animal is not going to be homeless anymore. Like you just took that whole statement and you just really made it valid by saying “okay, well, if this owner doesn’t want their pet, it’s coming back to me so that they have a home.” That’s awesome.

I mean, we screen the best that we can. I used to do home visits on every single dog, but I went to some training and it’s true, you can go to the best home and it doesn’t mean that they’re gonna be the best owner. Some of the best owners I have are low income families. And, you know, I recently actually helped a family. The husband was working and at work, had an eye injury and he lost vision and couldn’t work anymore. And his dog had valley fever and was diagnosed at a clinic, and he reached out for help. And we paid the $700 bill to get the dog worked up because he really needed the support of the animal for what he was going through.

So we help out in that way, too, and we just try to constantly ask the public for a monthly donation on their, you know, on PayPal. We offer you can pay the vet directly or to a specific dog. That way, they feel like they have control of how their money is being spent, and we do what we could do. But it’s always I’m actually going back to work to help support the financial end of it. So you’re basically gonna working to support the dream, right? Yeah, you can say that.

So how would you say that your organization has changed over the years? Because I know you said that you founded the 2DaRescue in 2012. So how would you say that you’ve grown from then to now? Oh, goodness, we’ve grown immensely. I mean, when I first started out, I knew nothing about resources, like, so now we have lots of places that we can go to. One place might do a lower cost dental, one doctor, one vet flies in and does lower costs. Orthopedic surgeries at our vet’s office. We have are phenomenal vet on the west side, Dr. Winston, who reaches out to the rescue community and helps so much doing very, very low cost procedures and diagnoses because he’s work with the rescue community for a long time, and he’s amazing, but he’s a good hour away from us one direction.

So we’ve had some cases of—there’s actually a venereal disease and dogs called TVT that most of the vets in our community have never heard of because it’s transmissible venereal disease in dogs because of overcrowding. So if they remove the tumor, they would actually kill a dog because it’s like a form of cancer. And they give cancer medication to the dog and really the only guy I know that knows how to treat that or even knows about it, is Dr. Winston on the west side of town.

So you know, it’s 4 to 6 treatments every week of driving the dog an hour on one direction to receive very low cost care. And we appreciate him very much because he’s not a part of a franchise. He has his own business, so he’s not governed by the rules of the franchise. You can’t do lower, no cost care for rescue organizations because of franchise dictates what these practices do. That kind of gives us a little bit of insight into that year because I didn’t know that. Yeah, that’s a huge deal. So most of your big vet like Banfield or BCA they’re a franchise. There’s lots of almond, so somebody brings the dog to the emergency room. If they started offering free care, you that would open up a whole door of a different story. So they have to surrender the dog to a rescue if they can’t afford it.

And then we go in and pay the bill and ask for help. And then we find a family that has a financial ability to care for the animals, like recently, VCA Animal Hospital called me and said a woman adopted a Husky, supposedly pure bred from a backyard breeder, paid $400 for the dog, doesn’t have any record of vaccines, took it to a dog park and the dog got attacked by a Pit bull and literally ripped her eye out. And she’s only 14 weeks old, a puppy. Oh my goodness. VCA, because I have a close relationship with them asked if I would take the puppy in. So I literally, they sent the Pit puppy home with its eye out of sockets, hurting with some pain medication. But that’s hugely, hugely painful.

So the next day I met the owner had her surrender her puppy to me we paid the bill and then ask for help paying it. I probably received maybe 30% of what it actually costs, and then I ended up paying the rest of it out of my pocket. But you know me personally, that’s just how I’m built. It’s not that I’m trying to talk big about myself, but I do the best I can and work hard and just try to do a thorough job, and sometimes we can’t do it. Like, right now, we’re currently maxed out. I love that you point out, you know, this is how you do things, and that kind of goes back to my comment about, you’re doing your part to make a difference, and that’s awesome. It’s good because it helps other organization see that you’re dedicated and you’re committed to this field and we need more people like that in this industry, so.

And there is lots of women just like me. So I’m not trying to say, “oh, I’m the best or the only one.” I have good relationships with other women who do the same thing. They have dedicated their lives to helping animals and spending their own money, much of the times. It’s never enough. And it’s difficult because the public, well, sometimes say all you’re just take the dogs and you’re trying to make money off of them. And it makes you so angry that sometimes it’s hard to hold back and you’re human and you’re like, “are you kidding me?” You know, and I’ve even offered, “hey, sit down and look at my QuickBooks with me. Let me show you the transfer from my own bank account,” because it’s so frustrating when the public thinks that we get everything for free and we’re trying to flip dogs. Even though there are people that take dogs from people and they flip them and they’re called dog flippers. They take for dogs, and then they try to sell them on Craigslist. And you know, Craigslist and those type of online communities are a part of the problem, too, of course. Yeah.

Now, do you put on any type of events or fundraisers or anything of that nature to kind of help with some of the costs? You know, my brain wraps around medicine and training. I used to rehab horses and I did the same thing, and I wasn’t a 501(c)(3), and I would spend my own money and I would take horses off the kill lab. There’s a lot of thoroughbred horses and I used to retrain them. I did that for 10 years and lost a lot of my own money doing that. So I learned my lesson when I was working with the first—volunteering with this other organization. They were not a 501(c)(3), and I’m like, I am not going to keep doing it the wrong way, but I kind of did. Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of my own money, but I had people offer to help do grant writing or fundraising, and then I never hear from them again. I’ll spend 20 minutes on the phone having a conversation, and life happens. They get busy and then I don’t hear from them again.

Definitely would love to have someone help me with that, but I’m so busy that I haven’t slowed down enough to do that. So PACC 911 has helped us tremendously. It still doesn’t cover the cost, but they do help financially, quite a bit, and the founder of that organization is amazing and Bari Mears is one of my good friends and rescue and supporters, and she’s much appreciated in our community. Well, good. I’m happy that you have some kind of help in some areas. I mean, anything with rescues and any type of donation is awesome, and it helps tremendously.

So what do you have planned for 2020 for your organization? So what I have planned is our dogs, they’re either foster based or they’re in a boarding situation. So I’m trying to recruit more volunteers. But, you know, I train the volunteers to train the dogs, so we do our best to do training while we’re out in the yard with the dog instead of just sitting there watching them run around. So we’re engaged with the dogs and not just rescuing them. So I’m trying to recruit more volunteers, and I actually just applied for a position, and hopefully, because we’re a PetSmart partner, I would like to get back to just basic training because I know a lot of the problem solving skills for the big issues. But my goal, actually is to learn more about dog training. So I attended a lot of dog training seminars. I actually went to an awesome one. The Humane Society put out on Dog on Dog Aggression, so I’m trying to educate myself more and trying to get my certification.

So our goal is to do both, to offer not only rescue and rehabilitation, and we do, anyway, we do follow up with our adopters, and we offer them how over the phone. And if they’re near me, I’ll even go to their house and help them. But we can be more soup supportive in the arena of training so that they don’t go back out into the system again, or back to us, that they stay in the home. The fact that you’re taking the stuff that you’re learning and you’re implementing it and sharing it with your volunteers so that they can help train the dogs as well when they’re playing that’s awesome that you’re wanting to do that and you’re taking those steps to getting that and learning how to handle that.

So when you say that you are wanting to get more people signed up for volunteering, if any of our listeners are in your area, how can they go about getting in contact with you to get involved with your organization. We do have a volunteer application on our website, and it’s and it’s not weird. It’s with the number, My husband had thought of that. It’s kind of a complicated name, but being medical field, it was with the idea of throwing a life preserver around a dog and rescuing its life like you do in medicine or a lifeguard would do so. It is really cute, but it’s a little complicated and it’s “.org.”

So please do reach out to me because I think the awesome thing about rescuing is saying the dogs changed behaviorally and we’re constantly told that we have the best behaved dogs in boarding. We’re the best behaved dogs in adoption events, and that’s like having kids. It’s nice to hear that you’re complimented on your kids matter. It’s the same thing. We want our dogs to be well behaved because they’re well balanced, so we don’t take them out of their kennels. When in a state of high anxiety, we have an agility board at our boarding. I wish we had a swimming pool. I did have one. At one time I had my own place. But when I did it, I didn’t have a commercially zoned and I should have known better. But I tried anyway. I had it in the ground swimming pool and they played.

So we do a lot of play therapy. We take the dogs that are adoptable so that we can get them in the yard and they play together and they literally exhaust each other and their social, they’re happier and dogs love to be in packs. But we used agility board. I used treadmills, anything creative that we can do to have them gain more confidence, be better, well behaved. So when they go to an owner, I can tell. And I’m very honest if our dog is a brat or if our dog is behave, or our dog has anxiety, and we still manage to get them adopted.

You know, I have a few. I have one Soi Foundation dog from Thailand, and he’s a cute and sweet terrier. But he gets excited and grab somebody’s legs and humps them. Oh my goodness. We’ve been working—it’s not funny, but he’s the cutest dog and he just has learned to trust so much, and he came in with the handling issues and some dog on dog aggression. And he’s adoptable now, and it’s been eight long months, so. That’s awesome. But it’s amazingly awesome to see the dogs changed. Just because we put it in a little bit more effort. You could train a dog just by the way you walk into the kennel. If you’re having a stressful day or you’re mad at your husband, you’re holding a grudge. You know you’re feeling stressed. The dog’s gonna feel it, just like with horses.

So, you know, I try to tell people, turn your cellphone off, be engaged with the dog, take depress and transpire positive energy into the dog. And it works. It really does. It’s just how you carry yourself not to say that you know I have bad days or lose my temper. Of course, it’s stressful. We have 12 dogs in boarding right now, and it’s $10 a day, which is low cost, but still it’s $120 a day. Wow. Yeah, so it’s expensive. It’s loud, a lot of barking, and you try to maintain your sanity and do a good job. And that’s tough. But that just goes from them being in that boarding environment. There’s a lot going on. It’s constant day in, day out, and I mean one dog is hard to care for, let alone, 12. Right. And that’s not counting the ones I have at home. Yes. You know, I have three different litters of sets of two at home in different pens.

And I have one dog that came from Mexico starved. And he was on the side of the road, barely clinging to life, emaciated, literally, almost dead. And when I took him in, he was positive for heartworm, limes disease, tick-borne disease. Like all four, out of 4DX. Oh my goodness. And he was a hot mess, and he growled at people. I’ve had to muzzle him to take him to the vet, and now I have him at my house and he’s crate trained. He’s becoming a happy, well-adjusted dog, little by little, but you could only take on so many dogs like that. So we take the adoptable dogs, but we also do take the challenging ones, too, because it’s challenging and it’s fun to be challenged.

And you know they need you too, that’s kind of what I love about the podcast, is hearing an animal with such struggles, and he’s testing positive for numerous different things. But the fact that he’s happier now and you’ve gotten him a lot healthier than he was, for sure. Yeah. But now he how he’s getting that love, he’s getting that training. He’s getting that being able to be around people. And I think that’s what’s inspiring most about this industry, is being able to make a difference, and you definitely gave that dog a second chance. And that’s truly amazing. It is.

We have all these stories in our Facebook page as well. If you scroll down and the page, you’ll see all the stories and we do post a lot of really good updates. We keep in touch with our adopters as long as they’re willing to, we’d say, “please send us pictures,” and we have lots of post adoption pictures. Just recently, when I pulled out of Maricopa County, he was there for months. There was a volunteer that he was her project dog and she worked with him for five months that we’re gonna euthanize him and she asked me to take him in, and we did. We had him all summer.

He was just adopted recently and he went into the home. Ripped up the carpet, actually it was his third home, so the family hung in there and I told them what they were in for, but they’re committed. And now I have pictures of him hiking with the husband, going to the dog park, watching the kids play with the wife. And that’s what makes you keep going on the things like that. And it literally brings tears to my eyes talking about it, because that’s the amazing part, because when people are really committed, they always get better. But people just have little patience and little time, a little commitment, and it’s sad. It definitely is.

And that’s one thing when to commit to an animal, you gotta stay committed till the end and work through their problems, cause no animal is absolutely perfect, that’s for sure. No, no, trust me, the dog I have right now went through five different fosters, one of them losing him for a while and two days later, he showed up, or somebody caught him on the golf course. And you know, the last thing I wanted. I love all dogs, and now I think I’m actually gonna adopt him myself. I’ve had him three years, and now I don’t even know how I can let him go because he’s been with me for so long. And that’s the hard part is you can’t keep every dog, either.

You know, I recently had a dog that she was good with all dogs, but I wasn’t giving her enough time and attention. And she didn’t enjoy other dogs. And I ended up deciding. She picked her family. They came in to look at another dog and they just bonded with her and I let her go. I made that decision to let her go because it was the right thing to do. It was painful. Yeah, it was so painful. It’s like giving up your child after having it for a couple of years in your home. But I get all the good stories about her and how much they love her and what great care she’s getting. So happy endings. Yes, that’s what makes it worthwhile.

So Karen, do you have anything else that you’d like to share with us today before we wrap things up? Really, just awareness. Education. Volunteering. I tell people, volunteer, donate, do—just, everybody could do something, you know, even if it’s $25 or $10. I had a schoolteacher who dropped off a dog with Valley Fever and was near dead. And he said I could give you $10, and I was like, “what? $10?” But he gave me $10 for about what, three or four years. And that added up to a lot of money so everybody could do something that makes a difference.

Absolutely. And if any listeners hearing your story and listening to your struggles and what you’re doing to face those struggles and overcome them is definitely inspiring. And I hope that it definitely helps some of these other organizations that are facing the same issues as you. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time. You’re very welcome. And we’ve enjoyed having you. And we hope to connect with you soon! Right, I would love that. Thank you.

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