GIG Social Good Spotlight:
WONDER DOG RESCUE – Raising Awareness and Saving Lives
by Marcia Estarija Silva
“Rescue can be very demanding and often sad...It's the camaraderie, support and love
that keep all of us going.” - Linda Beenau, Founder of Wonder Dog Rescue
What is Wonder Dog Rescue?
Wonder Dog Rescue is a dedicated network of foster homes and volunteers, rescuing dogs from all over Northern and Central California. Dogs come to the organization through owner surrender and shelters.
What is Wonder Dog Rescue’s mission? What big changes is it trying to make?
Wonder Dog Rescue was originally founded to rescue, rehabilitate and place Boston Terriers and others at risk of being euthanized due to the pet overpopulation problem. Over the years, it has expanded to include all sizes, shapes and ages of dogs and its mission has grown to include public education and awareness.
How is Wonder Dog Rescue using its power to help others?
Nationwide, approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters every year and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized. Many of these animals have been relinquished by owners or picked up by animal control. Wonder Dog Rescue has saved blind and deaf dogs, puppies as young as two weeks and seniors as old as 15. The organization offers hospice to special needs and elderly dogs, caring for them until the end of their lives.
What inspires Wonder Dog Rescue to do this work?
Linda Beenau started Wonder Dog Rescue in 1992 to help animals in need. With time and experience, she realized that animals were being killed in shelters because of human ignorance and greed, through puppy mills and breeding to produce dogs and cats for profit. Now education and awareness are important to Wonder Dog Rescue’s work. “I personally feel that it is difficult to change an adult’s mind, but children and youth are easier to teach,” Linda said. “Wonder Dog Rescue has a goal of creating a free training program for young people, who will train and mentor other youth.”
The greatest reward is seeing the dogs flourish under the care of the volunteers/visitors. “There are *never* too many walks in a day, or too many volunteers to sit by a dog. The animals have benefited tremendously from this one-on-one attention,” Linda added. “Visitors often comment on how happy and loving the dogs are...and this is because of the people who come in to be with them.”
What is Wonder Dog Rescue focusing on now?
- Working with youth volunteers: Many children and young adults volunteer with Wonder Dog Rescue. Some youth come here as part of their school's community outreach program and others come because of a love of animals. “One girl, Sienna (8 yrs old), comes in every Saturday to help at our adoption events. She wouldn't miss a day!”
- Partnership with The ARC of San Francisco: For nearly two years, Wonder Dog Rescue has worked with The ARC of San Francisco, a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for individuals with developmental disabilities. Volunteers from The Art come in regularly to walk and socialize the dogs, and to help with tasks around the office. “Anne Slater is one of these volunteers. She has an amazing gift to work with the very timid dogs. Anne taught my own pup to walk, and the little one wouldn't walk for anyone else... how we laughed at that!”
- “Guarding Dogs” Documentary: About a year ago, Wonder Dog Rescue was approached by J.R. Fleming of Unstuck Productions about a documentary on rescue dogs which led to the production of Guarding Dogs. WDR is a fiscal sponsor for the project and is one of the organizations featured in the film.
- Rescue Runs: In January 2011, with the support of the Shaw Family Fund, Wonder Dog Rescue purchased a van that has been used to transport dogs from high-kill shelters to rescue groups, travelling between Los Angeles and the Canadian border.
How can GIGSTERS get involved and support Wonder Dog Rescue?
1. Foster a dog – Wonder Dog Rescue will provide you with the supplies you need (food, toys, leashes, etc) to have a good experience and help with any questions or issues that arise.
2. Volunteer - Volunteers are especially needed for event planning, networking (Facebook, etc), photographing dogs and getting them up on Wonder Dog Rescue’s website, Petfinder.com and craigslist. Volunteers also work at adoption events & walk and/or socialize the dogs. Complete the volunteer application form to inform Wonder Dog Rescue of your interests.
3. Donate - If you are unable to foster or volunteer, consider making a donation, which will help to defer the costs of running rescue, transporting dogs and providing medical treatment to animals in need.