As a dog rescuer, Amy Hunt sees abuse, neglect, and cruel treatment to pups on a daily basis, but she remains surprisingly optimistic about the rescue experience and its results. While the world remains greedy and lazy about puppy mills and pet shops, she hopes to help educate communities on why dogs shouldn't be toted as trophies at a pet store.
We talked to Amy about what makes the dog rescue experience so important to her, so much so that she's become the Ohio State Rep for Russell Rescue, a national network of volunteers dedicated to placing unwanted, displaced, or abandoned Jack Russell Terriers into permanent homes and at the same time, founded Multiple Breed Rescue, an organization for mix breed dogs that don't fall into a breed specific rescue.
She's also started her own dog rescuer's blog in order to express the hardships she's encountered when fully throwing herself into the dog rescuing process.
So far so good as Amy is on her way to being a true hero in the dog rescue area.
How did you get into dog rescue and why specifically dogs?
After college I moved to New Jersey. My job was horrible and I did not know a lot of people. I grew up on a farm with lots of animals and now I was living in an 800 sq. ft condo. I was a little depressed about being so far away from family and friends. I was at the mall, walked out of Sears and there was a Pet Store. I walked in just to look. There was a cage, with nothing in it but a water dish and a food dish. In the food dish was a little butt and tail sticking out. The sign on the cage said 14-week-old female JRT. JUST WHAT I WANTED! I was 24 years old, credit card debt up to my eye balls, student loans out the ears, a mortgage payment that was $1,200 a month and I was only making $30,000 a year PLUS I was working on the weekends as a waitress to make ends meet. Yet, $800 dog on my credit card to a young kid didn’t seem to bother ANYONE at the store.
I wasn’t asked if I knew anything about JRT’s, female JRT’s at that or if I had the time, the room, the money to care for a JRT puppy. No one asked me a single question. They allowed me to put a puppy on a credit card. At the time I didn’t think much of it but after a few months I started to research her “papers,” her breeding. I soon found out what a Puppy Mill was.. I had never heard of one before and I found out my dog came from one of the worse Puppy Mills in Missouri. I immediately started crying because I could not believe what I had done. All I could think about was her parents and littermates and where they could be now, alive? Dead? Abused? Loved? Who knows and who cared.
What is the situation with dogs these days? Why do so many need to be rescued?
Dogs need to be rescued for 3 reasons #1. Greed #2. Ignorance #3. Laziness.
Greed because the people selling dogs whether a back yard breeder trying to turn a fast buck, a Puppy Mill or a Pet Store. It all comes down to the almighty dollar. Dogs are treated like merchandise that sits on a shelf (or internet site or ad in the paper) and if they don’t sell they are disposed of just like trash, just like merchandise that doesn’t sell at any other store. The only difference is dogs are living breathing creatures with feelings but that isn’t important to someone who sees them as nothing more then moneymakers.
Ignorance because people aren’t educated about Puppy Mills / Pet Stores. Sometimes it is because they don’t do the research they should, sometimes it is because they don’t listen and sometimes it is because they don’t care.
Laziness because people don’t want to work at taking care of the dog. In Rescue we have what we call Christmas Season. Christmas Season usually starts around mid March and goes until about June. It is when all the Christmas Puppies have gotten bigger then the families accepted or are no longer cute puppies or the family has decided the puppies are too much work or the novelty has worn off and they dump their Christmas Puppy. Just last week I received to phone calls from a person wanting to dump their Christmas Puppy because it wasn’t working out. I asked them if they wanted help in working with the dog, I would be more then happy to help them work with the dog so they could keep it. Both of them came up with a million excuses as to why they couldn’t and in the end just really wanted to dump it. Keeping in mind I offer my services FREE!
What is Russell Rescue Inc. and what does it mean to be the Ohio State Rep.?
Russell Rescue, Inc. (RRI) is a national network of volunteers dedicated to placing unwanted, displaced or abandoned Jack Russell Terriers into permanent homes. All dogs entering rescue are either temporarily placed in a foster home or must remain with their owners until a suitable home can be found. Foster space is limited so foster homes are generally reserved for dogs that are in danger of euthanasia at local shelters or are in an emergency situation. RRI gathers information designed to match terriers to the appropriate permanent home or temporary home. We are funded by tax-deductible donations, adoption and surrender fees and supported by dog lovers throughout the world. The goal of RRI is to have this unique hunting terrier be in the protective care of those who thoroughly understand this breed.
Being the State Rep. means I am responsible for the entire State of Ohio and if anyone contacts Russell Rescue, Inc. in the state of Ohio about a JRT in need, I am the one that has to evaluate the situation, find space for the JRT if needed, get the dog to safety, make sure vet care is taken care of, find an adopter for the JRT that is a good match where the dog will be taken care of FOREVER.
It says you do multiple breed rescue? Why do some choose to focus on one breed while you focus on many?
My other rescue is called Multiple Breed Rescue, founded and run by me. It is for mix breed dogs that don’t fall into a breed specific rescue. Every breed out there has a breed specific rescue group that specializes in that breed. Many dogs are left at the shelter to die because they are considered “hard to place” Hard to place can be anything…. Big dogs, black dogs, mutts, dogs with broken legs, mange, missing an eye, old, sick. I don’t think rescue should be about taking the dogs you know you can find a home quickly, I think rescue should be about taking the dogs you know don’t stand a chance in the shelter OR in some cases yes taking a dog because you know of a breeder in the area that will snatch up a pure breed dog to make it part of his/her breeding program. Believe it or not happens ALL THE TIME!
When I find out about a dog at the shelter, I always call the shelter and find out how long the dog has been there, when the kill date for the dog is and what the pound thinks it’s chances are of it being adopted. I only take dogs whose time has run out or who don’t have a chance to get adopted from the shelter. I would much rather see a dog go from the shelter to a home instead of from the shelter to a bunch of different cars (transport to get to me), to my house, to the vet, to my house, to a foster home, to a forever home.
Do you have an interesting story or a dog rescue you will always remember?
I have a million….. hard to pick just one. My rescue friends make fun of me because I keep in contact with my adopters, I get updated pictures and if I don’t hear from someone for a year I track them down to make sure everything is ok J I love all my dogs and remember them all.
Tell me about your blog Dog Rescuer’s Life.
My blog is just a way for me to keep sane…it that possible in rescue???? I just need to vent sometimes and I feel like people need to know what HELL I go through everyday. Without educating the public there is absolutely NO WAY to stop the cruel treatment of dogs, no way to stop the Puppy Mills, no way to get people to understand there is more behind that puppy in the window then just a cute face!
You recently blogged about Petland withdrawing as a sponsor for the 2010 Columbus Pet Expo and how big of a deal it was based on actions taken by dog rescuers like you. Tell me what happened.
I HATE PETLAND! If they didn’t exist there would be less Puppy Mills, there would be WAY less homeless dogs. As the post stated for 1 county in Ohio
7-10 Petland dogs PER DAY are admitted to the shelter. 80% of those dogs are:
- Not spayed/neutered
- Are in very poor health and/or mental state
- Have no microchip registered to anyone other than the broker, and no owner can be tracked. Petland takes no responsibility.
- Are not an appropriate match to the owner, resulting in owner release within one year of the purchase.
A low-end average of $30 per day for each Petland dog (if the dog is healthy) X 7-10 dogs = $210-$300 per day!
Now just think there are 88 counties in Ohio and these number are for ONLY 1 county… need I say more?
I belong to a group called Ohio Voters Against Puppy Mills and Dog Auctions and I find a lot of their information to be helpful and feel like it should be shared so I repost it on my blog for more exposure. This was the case for this particular post.
What can the average person who is not a full-fledged dog rescuer do to help dogs?
The NUMBER 1 and most important thing ANYONE can do, dog owner or not dog owner is EDUCATE themselves and those around them. At the grocery story you hear someone say something about wanting a dog / puppy. Pipe up and say you should check out www.petfinder.com or the local APL on Main Street.
Here is a good example. I had a person come to my house to give me an estimate on doing some work for me. They commented on my dogs and said they had a dog they were thinking of breeding. I told them why that isn’t a good idea and all the statistics of homeless pets. 3 months later I ran into her and she told me she had her dog fixed. You can make a difference!
What needs to be done to improve the dog rescue situation so less dogs need to be rescued?
That is simple, mandatory spay neuter laws. Now don’t get me wrong I am a realist there is absolutely NO WAY to make someone spay or neuter their pet. HOWEVER, if every dog that leaves a dog pound or shelter is fixed I guarantee you we would have less dogs. And if Pet Stores were forced to have their dogs fixed prior to selling them we would have way less homeless pets.
I rescued my dog from a couple who bought him from a lady that was “breeding” so she could make money to help pay bills. She bought his mom and dad at the local pet store. My dog is a bit backwards…I am sure his parents were related.
How do you go about finding owners for the dogs you rescue?
I hold adoption events that I advertise in the local newspapers and I have about 5 websites. 2 Pet Finder accounts, 2 adopt a pet accounts and our national website for Russell Rescue.
I do get dogs adopted by word of mouth. My vet office tells people about me and I work at a huge company and have about 20 plus dogs I have placed with co-workers or co-workers families.
What does the world need to know about dogs and how they should be treated?
The world! Well I am sad to say I focus on my county, my State and my country first. Different countries have different views on dogs so that is hard to say.
As for the US I feel that we need to stop treating animals like merchandise. Dogs, cats, birds, etc. should not be sold like such. People should have to be responsible for what they create. I mean if you buy a car that is dangerous the car maker gets in huge trouble yet it is ok for people to sell sick or aggressive dogs and there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it. Seems strange doesn’t it?
I also feel dogs should not be chained up 24 / 7. It is proven that it makes them aggressive. Being an outside dog is one thing being tied up is another. I am ok with dogs being outside dogs / barn dogs / farm dogs but being chained thing really really bothers me.