SACO, Maine — Roscoe, a 10 1/2-week-old Labrador retriever mix, had many people doting on him, and he seemed more than happy with the attention of people holding, hugging and kissing him.
For any dog lover, he was hard to resist, as were his five siblings, who were all at the Pet Life store in the Saco Valley Shopping Plaza on Sunday morning, at a meet and greet for Mainely Dog Rescue of Hollis. The dogs, scampering around a fenced-in area, were all healthy looking and active.
Debbie King, associate manager, trainer and events coordinator for the Saco Pet Life store, said the store hosts rescue groups like Mainely Dog Rescue to give them exposure and help them find “forever homes” for the dogs.
Mainely Dog Rescue was started about a year ago by Crystal Weiss and takes in dogs, primarily from western Tennessee, that would otherwise be at risk of euthanization and finds homes for them.
Weiss said she was looking for a pet dog, and when searching online, she came across pictures of dogs and their listed “due dates” – dates that they would be euthanized if they didn’t find a home.
“It really opened my eyes,” she said.
She quit her job in health care, which she had for 11 years, and started the dog rescue.
Since its inception a year ago, she has found homes for about 75 dogs. It’s hard work, she said, and she’s not making any money, but the work is extremely rewarding, she said.
“I love dogs,” she said. “I’ve always had dogs.”
Volunteer Perian Carpenter said some of the stories are heart-wrenching.
“Basically, the dogs are on death row,” she said.
Weiss said she’s done most of her networking through Facebook and online.
She currently is working with two foster homes in Tennessee that care for the dogs for about three or four weeks, making sure they get necessary veterinary care and are well-fed and healthy before they are transported north.
The dogs come to Maine through a professional transport service, she said. Though a professional transport service is more expensive than using volunteers, she added, the company has health and vaccination standards for all its canine passengers, and the dogs always arrive safely and on time.
Weiss said the most expensive part of the dog rescue is the veterinary bills. When she first started, she said she had 19 puppies within the first three months with parvovirus, “a nasty little bug” that can be fatal if not treated.
The adoption fees for one day pay for the rescue of another dog, she said, adding that she relies on volunteers and donations of pet food.
For more information on Mainely Dog Rescue, go to www.mainelydogrescue.com.