By Devon Krusko, RedRover Field Services and Outreach Coordinator

In June I saw a Facebook post for a dog in need: URGENT! Needs a rescue or foster. This is Penelope. Her owner moved and left her behind. She stays under my carport since they’ve left and sleeps on our bench. The post included a few photos of a very pregnant, about-to-pop momma dog. 

The post was shared by 4Paws Rescue Inc., an animal shelter deep in the trenches of overpopulation, located in Ruston, Louisiana. 4Paws could not take the dog in, but hoped that someone who could help would see their post. In my previous work in shelter operations in Vermont, I worked with 4Paws, and other Louisiana organizations, to transport highly adoptable animals to the northeast. 

4Paws is doing incredible work, but taking in every urgent, abandoned and forgotten dog (and cat!) is just not feasible. A limited intake shelter, 4Paws does not euthanize for space or length of stay. For every animal occupying a spot in the shelter there’s another one (or two, or three, or four) waiting. It’s simple math: there isn’t enough kennel space, funding or fosters for every animal in need. 

This is where rescue groups step in, and fortunately, there are a lot of folks working together to help save the animals of Louisiana (and all over!) – but animal rescue is costly. Rescuing requires fosters who need supplies, medical concerns that need to be addressed, and transport costs like fuel, food, and hotels. 

All of this can be difficult to secure for one dog, let alone a pregnant dog. With a soft spot for momma dogs, I reached out to my colleague at Road Trip Rescues (RTR) located in Pennsylvania to see if they could commit to the care for mom and pups if I fostered.

With rescue commitment secured, planning could begin. A group chat started with myself, RTR, the person whose carport Penelope was sleeping under, and another Louisiana organization, PAWS of Northeast Louisiana, who would be helping to get momma to the vet and on her way to the east coast. It takes a village – a big one. In fact, five different organizations played a role in getting Penelope and her eight babies to safety in New York. 

She gave birth outside, under a shed, and the babies were, fortunately, found and collected by the neighbor. This poor pup deserved better. Penelope arrived to me weary with sharp hip bones protruding, her body depleted, the little nutrients she had going towards nursing the babies. The family that moved away without her included children, and I’ve thought long and hard about the importance of programs like RedRover Readers and Kind News to help the next generation understand and build empathy for animals like Penelope. 

The little babes turn eight weeks old next week. They are chubby, with irresistible puppy breath and tiny needle teeth out in full force! I’m lacking in sleep, but certainly not love. I’m reminded with each nuzzle from Momma P that kindness is the easiest act. May we all play a small role in a better life for dogs like Penelope. 

This summer, RedRover was honored to award 4Paws Rescue Inc. a $20,000 grant to support a new community program: Safe Housing for the pets of domestic violence. Because of this grant, 4Paws will be able to build new kennel space to ensure that pets have a safe option when their owners are fleeing domestic abuse – an option the community does not currently have. When not in use, these kennels will offer 4Paws additional space for dogs like Penelope. 

Learn more about our Safe Housing program >>