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November 01, 2007
Fluffy Dog Rescue Goes National
Lori Marchek loves fluffy dogs. She loves Aussies and Airedales, Pyrennes and Poodles. It was her love of fluffy dogs that led her to establish Fluffy Dog Rescue in Hartland, Wisconsin.
“My family wanted to adopt a dog and decided on a poodle mix. At that time there were no available poodle mix rescue dogs in Wisconsin. Finally on Petfinder.com, I found a dog listed as ‘urgent’, a female poodle mix that had two days before she was to be euthanized. I knew this was our dog. The challenge was that she was in Alabama!”
Lori connected with a group of transporters, and after a 16-leg journey up the I-65 corridor, a tired but excited new family member jumped out of the car wagging her tail.
“Bailey was such a wonderful dog; I couldn’t believe anyone would give her up, particularly to a kill shelter. Then I discovered that over 100 dogs were being put down at this shelter every week. I had this overwhelming feeling that ‘someone’ should do something to help. I decided that the ‘someone’ had to be me.”
After several weeks of networking with shelters, foster families, transporters and veterinarians, Lori founded Fluffy Dog Rescue. Her first foster dog was Baxter, a wheaten terrier/bearded collie mix.
“The plan was to save him from a kill shelter, give him medical attention and find a loving family for him. When he arrived we knew that it wouldn’t be that simple. He was matted, had pneumonia and worse, was heartworm positive. But once I met him I knew I needed to help. There was just no turning back.”
After extensive medical treatments and a good grooming, Baxter was a healthy, happy dog. And not surprisingly, is now living with the Marchek family! “He was our first foster, we couldn’t give him up after all we had been through together!”
Marchek founded Fluffy Dog in September of 2006. Her mission was to focus on “fluffy” dogs such as terriers and poodle mixes. The goal was saving twenty dogs a year. How is she doing? “We just placed our 144th dog. It takes a village! We have a network of amazing people all over the country who make this possible. Shelters make me aware of available “fluffy” dogs. Rescuers pick up the dogs and bring them to the transporters. Transporters bring them to the foster families who provide loving care, socialization and take the dogs for medical treatment. Silver Spring Animal Wellness Center in Glendale has generously reduced their fees for our dogs. Prior to adoption, we have people who conduct home visits and reference checks. And we have a wonderful photographer who has also designed our new website. Amazingly these people are all volunteers who do this because they love dogs and want to help. Without them these dogs wouldn’t be on the earth today.”
It hasn’t all been rosy. Marchek has been criticized for bringing in dogs from other states when there are Wisconsin dogs needing help. “What would have happened if Wisconsin had turned their backs on the Katrina animals? A life is worth saving regardless of geography. We rescue “fluffy” dogs wherever they are, including Wisconsin.”
So what can you do if you can’t start your own rescue, but want to help? “If you have a pet, have it spayed or neutered. The number of unwanted or homeless animals is staggering. I heard a statistic that there are 9 million animals euthanized a year. This has got to change. The day we rescued Miranda and Rocky (on our site) there were 65 dogs euthanized in that shelter in one day!”
“There are 223 animal welfare organizations listed in Wisconsin on Petfinder.com. Volunteer for one of them, they all need help. If you are thinking about adopting a cat or dog, look at rescues first. There are thousands of loving, worthy animals waiting for homes. If you are unable to do any of this, look at the rescue’s wishlist and send them something from the list. And of course monetary donations are always needed and appreciated.” Why donations when fees are charged?
“When you adopt from Fluffy Dog, you pay an adoption fee. It is expensive to pull the dog from the shelter, transport it here, spay/neuter, vaccinate, deworm, test for heartworm and fix whatever medical condition the dog inevitably has. Then there’s food, supplies, gas and everything it takes to rehabilitate the dog. Sometimes the fees cover it, sometimes they don’t. Not to mention the occasional dog who has huge medical problems that nobody knew about! But seeing these dogs who were once so helpless become loved and valued family members gives me the energy to keep moving forward.”
How do these dogs find great homes? Shorewood residents Carol Stabile and her family recently adopted Wilma, a Fluffy Dog who ironically is a short haired blue heeler mix, not the “fluffy” type of dog Marchek usually rescues. “We are so happy to have Wilma as a part of our family. We wanted to adopt a rescue dog because we know there is such a need. It was a quick, simple process of filling out an application, reference checking, having a home visit and then bringing Wilma to us to make sure she was a good fit with our family. The fee was a bargain. You are getting a spayed or neutered dog with all the shots, microchipped and who lived in someone’s home so they know the dog and can tell you about their personality. We will be back when it’s time for another dog!”
Yes, Lori Marchek loves fluffy dogs. But she would really like to be out of the rescue business. “I hope some day that this problem will be under control so that rescues are not needed. We need to fix this and focus on keeping our animals well.” Not surprisingly, Marchek will be opening an animal wellness practice soon! www.fluffydogwellness.com.
When Lisa Harper isn’t taking care of her two children, husband, dogs, cats, parakeets and whatever foster animals she has, she is an Executive Coach with Milwaukee based TalentGenesis, Inc. In addition she is a staff writer for CitiGal Magazine in Milwaukee and also does public speaking on animal related issues. She can be reached at www.talentgenesis.com.
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