the story of black dog rescues
The response to the following story first published in Ricki Magazine has been so overwhelming, readers have been contacting us, asking how they can help. We turned to our friends at Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks, CA who have lovingly shared more information on dogs that desperately need to be adopted. Click here to see photos and profiles, your future four-legged family member could be just a click away.
The Story of Black Dog Rescue
Brokenhearted by a story Maggi Berwind-Dart saw on Facebook, she chose to found a non-profit whose mission it was to help unwanted black dogs get rescued from shelters where they’d otherwise be put to sleep. Here, she shares the story of how she started Black Dog Rescues, and started saving lives.
Back in February 2011, I saw a friend's Facebook post about a big black dog with just hours to live at a high kill shelter in San Bernardino, CA. His picture and story had been shared all over the internet, but no one had come forward to save him. I wanted to know why.
Turned out that rescue organizations have always had a notoriously difficult time placing black dogs–particularly large, mixed breed black dogs–in adoptive homes. “Black Dog Syndrome” is well-known to shelter workers and those working in rescue. There are various theories as to why people overlook black dogs. It's true that they don't photograph as well as lighter dogs, and don't showcase well in the shelter setting, where kennels tend to be dark. Large black dogs may also be perceived as scary, even if they have mild temperaments and are very friendly. That said, people mostly aren't aware that black dogs face such dire odds in shelters, and once they learn the facts, many people actually go out of their way to adopt black dogs.
While I didn’t have any experience specific to animal rescue, I had worked for years at FirstGiving, a company that helps nonprofits raise funds online, and this gave me the confidence to fly by the seat of my pants and found BDR as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit devoted to raising awareness about Black Dog Syndrome, and advocating for black dogs in shelters. While we occasionally rescue dogs and place them in new homes, our primary work is to partner with other rescues to help raise funds so they can save black dogs from local shelters and animal control facilities. This allows BDR to have a national presence.
But back to that first Facebook post. The dog languishing in San Bernadino was named “Duster,” and he has become our mascot. After completing a mind- boggling pile of paperwork and doing some rapid-fire fundraising, I managed to get Duster across the country from California to Boston to live with me. It was a difficult but amazingly rewarding experience that taught me everything I needed to know on a deep, personal level.
It hasn’t all been heartwarming–there have been some major heartbreaks, too. After I rescued a beautiful nine-year-old Lab, she ended up in boarding for a month. She became sick and despite expensive vet care, she died. I had very much hoped to be able to place her in a loving home, and was so sad that she did not survive long enough to be adopted. It was the first time I had saved a dog but couldn't say that the story had a happy ending. It was tough.
What kept me going was the support I was getting on social networks. When we reached 1,000 supporters on Facebook, I knew we were on the right track. Getting our 501(c)(3) status, though, was what really made me feel like we had become official - and had officially succeeded. The next step? Building a network of foster homes around the country so that we can save more dogs.
If you’d like to be a part of Black Dog Rescues, you can find out how HERE.