Mike’s Dog House animal rescue

Dogtime’s Road to Rescue program salutes Florida’s Mike’s Dog House animal rescue.

How did your organization get started?
Mike’s Dog House started when the founder, Michael Vermette was a hot dog vendor. Many strays would come for free food and it broke Mike’s heart that they were not cared for. He kept bringing them home and he and his partner Goldie Barrett would take care of them until they found good homes. One day Mike witnessed a dog jumping out of a truck to do his business. While he was doing his business, his owner kept calling to him to get back into the truck. Then the owner just swore at him and sped away never looking back.

Spirit, a parvo puppy on the brink of death

Mike, of course brought the devastated dog home. It was then and there that Mike decided to dedicate his life to saving good dogs and sold his cart. Shortly after Mike’s Dog House was created, the organization quickly learned about the Pit Bull type breeds and the horrible injustices they go through and pledged to dedicate their mission to saving them from abusive situations. Over the past seven years, Mike’s Dog House has rescued and re-homed over 1,000 Pit Bulls.

Spirit today

What is your mission?
The American Pit Bull Terrier and her cousins are the most endangered, misunderstood, and abused dogs on the planet. The average life span of these breeds is 2 years. Only one in 1,000 ever gets a forever home. Mikes’ Dog House is dedicated to saving these dogs from extinction and prejudice through continued education and re-homing. It is also our mission to improve the face of rescue forever by educating other rescue organizations on what we call “effective rescue”–meaning that there is no room for error when it comes to saving the lives of good adoptable dogs. We believe that when kind-hearted people donate their hard earned money to save lives, they expect it to be used for those purposes and not for second homes, fancy cars and personal financial gain.

How do most of your animals find their way to you?
Many of our dogs come to us through owner surrender. More and more insurance companies are banning our beloved Pit Bulls and many more towns are banning them through Breed Specific Legislation (BSL laws) due to ignorance and fear. Our demand far outweighs our funding and capacity because we put the new adopted family in touch with the surrender family so all know that the beloved dog is well and living happily ever after. That means more and more people want their dogs to come to Mike’s Dog House as opposed to other rescues. Many have been flown to us from other states and even The Caymans and Puerto Rico. We have members who scout their local high-kill animal control facilities for good dogs who are about to die and many good-hearted Animal Control Officers call us for help.

What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
We are not a foster network. We only accept dogs with no aggression issues and all our dogs are wonderful family pets. Our dogs are lovingly cared for and exercised five times per day. Each one gets “loving and belly rubs” each time they go out to play. We are a NO KILL shelter and all rescues are here on the premises until they find their forever families. Some have stayed as long as two years.

Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
When it comes to Pit Bull rescue there is no shortage of compelling stories. But Spirit’s story touched all of us deeply. Spirit was found in an ally in Orlando where she was left to die of the deadly parvovirus. She was only 12 weeks old. When we got her to the hospital, she was nearly gone and the vet had little hope. No one knew how long it had been since she had something to eat. She was skin and bones.

They said the cost would be too much to gamble on but we said we would raise any amount to pay the bill. The fluids rehydrated her and her fever broke after 48 hours. Things looked good until it came time for her to eat. This is where many lives are lost because they starve to death from having been left with no appetite whatsoever. The doctor told us to prepare for the worse. But we didn’t give up and consulted a New York holistic vet who gave us a recipe which we quickly made up and took to the hospital.

After much coaxing, we were allowed in to bring her our own healing food. She devoured it. We had to pull her back! Our prayers had been answered. The doctors were amazed at her recovery. We fed her every four hours for two more days until she was well enough to come home to Mike’s Dog House. That was three years ago. Today, Spirit is very much alive and well and has a wonderful and loving forever home in Jacksonville. She developed a perfect white cross on her chest.