Dogtime’s Road to Rescue program salutes Mississippi Valley German Shepherd Dog Rescue.
How did your organization get started?
Our founder, Norma Jewell, was doing volunteer work at her local shelter. She was approached by the animal control officers to foster some hard to place dogs. She trained them in basic obedience, groomed them, and socialized them preparing for adoption. She researched other rescues and got advice from them on how to start an organized effort. She read books on the subject as well but the most help was learning from others who have started a rescue.
What is your mission?
Our purpose is to save, rehabilitate and place German Shepherd Dogs from shelters and those that have been abandoned, abused, neglected and/or relinquished by their owners, on a case by case basis into secure permanent homes. Through education, training, and fundraising, we are dedicated to caring for and finding good homes for all German Shepherd Dogs that need assistance for any reason.
What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
They are placed into a foster home and evaluated for a minimum of three weeks before being put up for adoption. In foster care the dogs learn what it’s like to be in a home environment and learn necessary house manners and training. Potential homes are screened and a home visit is done before placing a dog in a new home.
Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
The dog pictured in our logo is Bear. He is called a ‘rescue failure’ because he stayed! He was a high drive dog that would do anything you asked. The problem is, people do not understand the needs of such dogs, and neither did we back then. He was 13 months old when we met, and he had spent most of his life in one shelter or another.
Bear was untrained, and fearless, although his health was seriously compromised, there was something about him you could not put your finger on. The ill treatment he suffered was not going to take his spirit too.
We just started doing breed rescue when we saw Bear. I remember saying to a shelter staff member, “I don’t know anything about Shepherds.” She said, “Can you learn?” She was determined not to put him down that day.
That was ten years ago and Bear taught us a lot. He was a Certified Therapy Dog that visited patients in the hospital. The staff loved his big ‘teddy bear’ hugs, and he couldn’t go down the hall without someone calling out his name. In the dog training world, he is called a ‘Demo Dog.’ He went to pre-schools to teach children about bite prevention and animal welfare. He was also a true hero, saving other dogs lives by being a canine blood donor.
Sadly, Bear passed away from cancer last fall. He is the one that started us on this ride, and it has been a good one. This rescue effort is dedicated to him.