DogTime salutes Opie Taylor (interviewed) and Ring Dog Rescue of Richmond, Virginia.
How did your organization get started?
I began fostering in 1999 for another local rescue. I was one of maybe three people willing to take Pit Bull type dogs into my home. I visited the shelters weekly and decided I had to do something for these dogs. Every day more and more Pit Bull type dogs filled the shelters while fewer and fewer people adopted them and rescue groups took them.
I continued to foster for a few more years, then decided my home wasn’t enough for this many Pit Bull type dogs, so I began slowly and did it my self covering all expenses out of my pocket. Then I met Tonya, she wanted help with a sick Pit Bull pup at a local shelter. His name was Buster. She was technically the second foster home I had and with the saving of “Buster” our relationship formed and Ring Dog Rescue was born. We began building the rescue in 2004 and became an official 501(c) 3 in 2007. By then we had gained fosters and volunteers and began really understanding the internal workings of this type of organization.
What is your mission?
Ring Dog Rescue’s mission is threefold:
#1 We want to save dogs, plain and simple. Get them out of shelters, get them medically sound, and find responsible, forever adoptive homes.
#2 Educate the public on how wonderful these dogs are, how misrepresented and vilified they have been, and to open the public’s eyes to what humane means.
#3 To help end the over population of animals through spay and neuter outreach, education, and assistance.
How do most of your animals find their way to you?
All of the dogs in our program come from euthanizing shelters. Although we do make some exception for extreme situations, RDR does not take owner surrenders. A lot of people, and even other rescues, do not agree with our policy, but it is there for a purpose. We are not here to make people feel better or OK about animals being disposable. What I mean by this is, when you adopt, buy or obtain a companion animal, you have made a commitment to give this animal love, necessities, and companionship for their LIFETIME.
Too many people give up on animals when they become inconvenient, or don’t match the new curtains. Rescue is not here to make you feel better about your choice to give up on a living breathing life. We decided long ago we would only take from shelters. We do not rescue to make friends or to make people feel better… We do this for the animals.
What happens to the animals once they are in your care?
Each animal brought into our program is placed into a foster home, and in a desperate situation a boarding facility (short term). They are all spayed or neutered, vaccinated, wormed, microchipped and fully medically assessed. Each is put on an appropriate diet, crate trained, and they begin learning life skills within their foster home. They go to adoption events, are placed on our websites, and live life with their foster until a forever home is found.
We typically take the dogs in most need, so often our animals are medical cases that are over looked in the shelters. I would say 90% of our dogs go through some type of treatment, whether it be for heart worms, mange, or more serious injuries requiring surgery or constant care. We often say to each other ” the more sick they are, the more we want them.” Ring Dog Rescue also is lucky to have two wonderful certified trainers in our pack, and with their guidance we are able to work through behavioral issues from past lives.
Tell us about a particularly compelling animal or inspiring rescue.
There are so many, not sure where to start. I suppose one of the more recent would be Sissy. Sissy was seized in a dog fighting bust in Missouri, she and 400 other dogs from several states were all seized and housed in a make shift shelter with the Missouri Humane Society. So many were pregnant on impound, by the time the courts (several involved due to jurisdiction) there were over 100 pups born in captivity. Sissy was the mom of one of those litters.
Each dog was individually assessed and rescue groups were contacted. Ring Dog Rescue ultimately took seven dogs from this bust. Some arrived in the wee hours of the morning on an HSUS tractor trailer, others were flown, and the rest were driven. All were special and all were unique. Sissy was shy and shut down, she was great with dogs but spent most of her life chained out with no positive human interaction. She was one of those dogs you knew would never get adopted. But she did. With the assistance of her foster mom, Sissy learned to trust. A slightly more confident Sissy began to attend events and ultimately,14 months later, was placed in a loving home. From the fights to the family! She survived and she lived.