Bluegrass Bully Rescue, INC is a non-profit, volunteer dog rescue organization serving the Central Kentucky area. They are dedicated to rescuing dogs left homeless for whatever reason- dogs in public shelters where they are at high risk of euthanasia due to pet overpopulation, dogs given up by their owners because of difficult circumstances, and those in danger of abuse or neglect.
They place dogs in loving, responsible, committed permanent homes, following a comprehensive adoption process which includes taking considerable care in finding good matches and educating prospective adopters about the responsibilities and costs of bringing a dog into their homes and lives. It is all about the dogs.
“Welcome to the Animal Rescue of the Week podcast, where we feature outstanding organizations from around the country that are helping animals and the people who rescue them. This podcast is probably sponsored by Doobert.com. Doobert connects animal shelters with volunteers to do animal transport and fostering. Learn more and sign up for free at www.Doobert.com. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal rescue.
The Bluegrass Bully Rescue is a nonprofit volunteer dog rescue organization serving the central Kentucky area. They’re dedicated to rescuing dogs left homeless, for whatever reason- dogs in public shelters where they’re at high risk of euthanasia due to pet overpopulation, dogs given up by their owners because of difficult circumstances and those in danger of abuse or neglect.
Hi, Gina, Hi Leigha. Welcome to the show. Hi. Hello. So you ladies are both founders and board members at the Bluegrass Bully Rescue in Kentucky, is that right? That is correct. Here we are. Yeah, I hear somebody’s got a little friend in the back. That would be one of mine. Hey, we like having him around. They make the show, right? That is correct. Alrighty. Well, can you ladies just start by telling us a little bit about your organization and what your overall mission is over there? So Bluegrass Bully Rescue is a nonprofit 501C3, tax-exempt dog rescue, and our goal is really to help as many dogs as we can find good homes. Are you guys strictly Foster based? Do you have a facility? At this current time, we’re just foster-based. Obviously, the overall goal, we would love to have some sort of a facility or a kennel, that we could bring in extra dogs when we don’t necessarily have a great foster space open for those. Some dogs are particular in getting along with males or females. Or, you know different personalities get along better or worse. So you know, we have certain foster homes that fit certain dogs, and we have amazing volunteers that have opened their homes, and we try and provide food and crates, and we pay for all the vetting for the foster dog so that all the foster humans have to provide just a loving space, until they find their forever home.
That’s great that you guys have that support system from your volunteers and your fosters, and it definitely seems like you guys care for your volunteers and your fosters, as well as the animals. You know the animals are what makes it. But I’m sure you guys know, truth be told an organization can’t run without the help and the support of volunteers. Right? That is so true. We all, all of our board members, volunteer our time as well. But our fosters, we couldn’t do it without them because we wouldn’t have anywhere for these dogs to go. Yeah, definitely. So if you don’t mind me asking, when was your organization founded? We were founded last July, we’re still a new baby, but we have grown very quickly. This last year has been amazing for us. That’s awesome to hear that you guys have such support from volunteers and fosters, especially considering that your organization is fairly new. But that’s great.
So share with me a little bit about how do the dogs come into your care? Do you guys take in owner surrenders and strays, or how does that work? So we have several ways that we take in dogs. We do take some owner surrenders. Ideally, what we try to do is pull from shelters, mostly rural shelters. Those dogs that are in jeopardy of possibly being euthanized because they’ve been there so long or because of their breed. We do take in some strays as well. We get calls from all over. What is the community like in your area? Cause me personally, I have never been to Kentucky, so to share with us a little bit about that and kind of what are some of the struggles that animals face in your area? We have several rural areas around. We’re kind of based out of Lexington, central, Kentucky. But there’s a lot of shelters and areas around the area that, you know, people leave their dogs out on chains. They let them run around. There’s a lot of accidental litters. We try and help a lot with getting people’s dogs spayed and neutered, whenever we do take in puppies that, you know, were accidental litters. There’s a lot of hunting around, so there’s a lot of hunting dogs that aren’t necessarily taken great care of sometimes. But that’s a lot of what kind of fills up the shelters, that then we take. So central Kentucky, like the Lexington area, is a little bit more, the spoiling of the dogs happens there.
Okay, well, I mean, it’s kind of anywhere, you know, you’ve got those areas. I guess they would need a little bit more help in the animal rescue realm. And then you’ve got the ones that were filled with a little bit more animal advocates, right, that take a little bit better care. But it’s great that you guys, you’re able to identify the difference and kind of help out in those areas where you’re needed most. And we do have some areas that have breed restrictions. So we take in a lot of pit bulls. That’s our baby, is really to help the pit bulls and a lot of the housing in this area, a lot of the apartment buildings, some of the cities in Kentucky, have bans on pit bulls. And a lot of shelters will euthanize those guys first when they come in because they’re just trying to cut down the population. Oh my gosh, that’s awful to hear. I always hate to hear when there’s breed restrictions and everything.
So when you rescue them, I mean, how do you guys go about caring for them or finding loving homes. Do you find potential adopters in different areas where maybe breed restriction isn’t a big thing? We carefully vet all of our adoption applications. We make sure that if it’s not an own home if they answer to a landlord or an apartment building, we make sure that they don’t have any breed restrictions because we don’t want to put a dog in-home, and then the landlord shows up and say, You can’t have a pit bull there and then they get kicked out, and then we’re back in the same spot where we were trying to find them at home again. But we have adopted dogs out of state. A lot of other states, Kentucky is one of the worst for animal rights, and so we are open to sending dogs wherever the best home is. And if that is out of state, when we make that work. And that’s something that’s tough, you know, I mean being in a state where the animal welfare laws aren’t exactly where we feel like they should be. I’m assuming you guys have some partner organizations that you guys work within other states, or is it more strictly geared towards potential adopters, that are maybe following you guys and see an animal that they’re interested in adopting? Yes, so we have our dogs listed on PetFinder, the website and usually the out of state applicants come from PetFinder or even just through Facebook posts being shared from friend to friend. Some posts get a little bit more popularity than others, depending on the dog’s story. You know, the sadder the story, the heartstrings get pulled a little more so people are more inclined to share. And then, you know, somebody has a friend who lives in Rhode Island and sees a puppy. It’s like, Oh, I want that dog. And then we can make that work, as far as, we can contact rescues or shelters in that area to get volunteers to help us with our home visits. And then there’s all kinds of different volunteer organizations that then help with, like, transportation and stuff to different areas across the states. That’s very cool and the fact that your post gets to different states and everything. That’s really awesome.
I know right now when I came into the animal welfare industry, I didn’t realize that people actually adopted animals that were in different states, and it’s actually becoming more common. And I find it so amazing that in this day and age we can actually make that happen., you know because every state is different. In some places, they don’t like animals as much as other places. So it’s awesome that you guys are able to do that for people that aren’t necessarily in your area. Now we do have to check, some states have different rules about animals being brought in, and so we do have to make sure that we follow those rules. Most of the animals that cross state lines have to have an additional health certification, so we have to make sure that is done. We want the dog to have the best home it can. I’m amazed at how some people are willing to adopt a dog sight unseen, that they’ve never met, that they’ve only seen on the Internet, and I never met and wonder how that will work out. So that’s tricky sometimes, but we do the best we can. No, that’s definitely a tough one, because normally you have an adopter that wants to come in and hang out with the animal for a little bit and kind of get to know them. But I mean, it’s awesome that you’re getting that kind of exposure and that animal is potentially going to a really amazing home.
So, ladies share with me a little bit about some of the struggles that you guys are facing right now. I mean, I know the pandemic has maybe thrown a huge dent into the mix, but how are you guys holding up? We are doing great. Actually, we’ve really pushed through this whole pandemic. We’ve had a lot of people that have been home that have offered to foster for us. So we’ve had incredible fosters come forward and we have been able to take in, I think we had 33 puppies at once because we were able to take in extra litters because we had fosters available. We were able to take some food and be able to donate it to some people in our area that had lost their jobs and maybe didn’t have food for their dogs. So we were able to put together a little event and give out food to those people who were in need. But we are still making dog adoptions happen. Wow, that is amazing. I mean, I’m kind of shocked in a way because, you know, you think right now like during this whole pandemic a lot of the organizations they’re struggling to get their animals into foster homes. And look at you guys, you have people coming forward offering to foster. That’s amazing.
Yes, if anything, the problem that we had was we didn’t have enough puppies. Oh, no! I was actually organizing earlier, the delivery, I guess you could say, of some of our puppies that will be ready for their new homes this weekend. And we had seven puppies available for adoption a few weeks ago when we started taking applications. We received 26 applications within, like, a 24 hour period, for seven puppies. Oh, several. We have been overrun with people wanting to adopt dogs while they’ve been home. You know, they can get a puppy, you know, on a schedule and train it since they’ve got time to stay home. Since they had all the time on their hands. That is amazing. So the increase in not just the fosters, but also the adopters that are coming forward and wanting to adopt more animals because, as you said, they’re home. Have you guys changed up your adoption application process at all to be a little bit more thorough at all? No, we were already pretty thorough from the beginning, I think. OK, definitely.
I just like to pick your brain a little bit. Because I know a lot of people are wanting to adopt animals and everything and so I like the way that Leah presented it. People are looking at it like they have more time to get a puppy, that they would have more time to get them on a schedule and on track and house trained. Pretty much they’d be ready for when they go back to work. Possibly. So I like that that was how it was. You guys presented that. I think, if anything, the struggle people will have when they go back to work, after adopting a dog or a puppy, is the animal has gotten so used to the human being home all the time, and we really suggested to people and recommended that they at least crate the animal if they will, when they go back to work. A little bit throughout the day just so the animal can get used to not being with them 24/7 because it could create a lot of anxiety when they’re, you know, not with them all the time. That’s great. I mean, you guys are really in tune with your adopters and everything.
So in terms of, you know, being in tune with your community and gathering that support, I’m assuming you guys put on either events or some fundraising events and programs at all. Is that right? I mean, right now may be a little difficult. We do regular events at a couple of different pet stores in the area, at least once a month at each place. Our big thing that we love to do is the street parties or block parties, where people just get together and you have all kinds of vendors in one area and they can come and get food or get crafts. We love those kinds of things because we get a lot of attention from those. We had a lot of people coming through and looking at our dogs, learning more about us and learning more about what we do and we get the word out more about the breeds that we work with, and those are our big thing. And so the pandemic has kind of crushed us on that. But we hope to get back into that as soon as they start opening up to state a little more. But for now, we’re just doing the pet store things and as restaurants and bars open up, we’ll be adding more events in those places as well. Very cool. It’s very cool to hear that you guys have stuff like that in your area that you’re able to do that and families are able to come out. I personally find those fun, so it’s awesome. I mean, why not go and get some food and get to see cute dogs and cute puppies while you’re there? I think it’s also one of the more beneficial ways we can combat the, you know, ideology behind the breeds we focus on, you know, the bully breeds are mean or vicious. And so most of the time when we have our dogs at events like that, people Oh my gosh, they’re so sweet. I had no idea. Then we get stories of my aunt or my so and so had one, and I just loved it. So that’s kind of how we combat the stigma behind that pit bull persona. You know, I think that that’s what’s most important. It’s all about education, right? I don’t think breeds really have anything to do with that. I know others are opposed to that, but I think it’s awesome that you guys are taking the extra time to educate people and let them know why it is that you focus on those bully breeds. You know, that’s a great thing to offer people.
We also have started offering some education to the community on other things, like we had a doggie CPR and first aid class that we had a bunch of people sign up for and come to and really got a lot of interest in, people wanting more of those classes available in our community. So the plan was to offer that more often, have another one in the summer, which may or may not happen, and then offer other classes for your dog. Like doggy massage class or some training classes. Those kinds of things that the community really likes. That’s awesome. I love to hear that you guys are thinking a little bit more out of the box than the usual, you know, like the trainings and stuff like that. Like you guys went a step further and were like, Okay, we’re going to do CPR, which is interesting. So those are great. I like to hear that you guys were doing those. Thank you.
So I want to kind of pivot a little bit and kind of talk a little bit about you two. Kind of just get a glimpse into what a day in your shoes looks like, which, in this case, it would be both of yours. I’m pretty sure that it’s crazy, and every day is not the same. But would you guys mind sharing a little bit about what you guys do on a day to day basis? So I operate the Facebook page, so I’m kind of, I guess, the social media person. I make Facebook posts about dogs. We have available events we’re gonna have, if we have a dog in need, you know, asking for donations. We try not to beg for money all the time on social media. We try to just post educational stuff or highlight our dogs. I process a few apps. Gina over there holds down the fort on processing most of the applications. But I help her out a little. And then my major, I guess, responsibility is I handle all of the vetting, for all of the dogs. When then, you know, schedule their appointments. I work with our vet’s office. I’ve become quite close friends with some of them, so I can call them and tell them what I need. And they can help us out pretty easily, sometimes. And then, you know, making sure everybody’s, all of their shots are getting done, their boosters. Making sure the fosters can get them to their appointments on time or help with transport if we need and things like that, I guess.
The big thing about our board is that all of us have full-time jobs and or children in the home. And we all have our own packs of animals. So, you know, we’re volunteering our time. What little of it we have. But this really could be full-time jobs for each of us. I do events and process apps and/or filter them out to Leo or some of the other board members if I’m too busy. And processing an app could take a couple of days and then you have to schedule home visits, it’s time-consuming. But it’s not difficult. The other thing is, you know, making sure that all the animals when you’re doing meet and greets with the families or with their pets, that takes time as well and travel. So we’re busy, busy with rescue stuff and with work and home. And sometimes it’s really crazy. And then sometimes you just float along. Don’t forget all the paperwork and all the clerical stuff you do too. We were lucky that we started this rescue, we were all, had all worked with another rescue. That’s how we met and became friends. And then we started this one, and we were lucky to find a great app that takes care of most of that for us. It keeps us very organized, so that’s been the key. Very cool.
Actually, my next question was, is kind of how you guys all met and decided to pretty much open up your own rescue. Like were you guys all into animal rescue before? Yeah, way all work together with another rescue, and there was a lot of changes happening in that rescue that we didn’t really agree with. So we all left in our own little time and then came back together and said, Hey, let’s do this and let’s do it better. We’re all so different. We all live our own lives. But when it comes to rescue, our group just works, and it just makes it drama-free and easy. Which is how rescue should be. Exactly and that’s why you guys show up every day, right, the lives that you’re saving, and the fact that it just becomes a part of who you are and what you enjoy doing. And I’m sure you all get your family involved as well from time to time, right? We sure do more than they want to be sometimes. No, that is funny, but it’s good, you know, and it helps bring them in, and everything as well.
So I’m really curious, for each of you, and I really like to ask the question. Was there a story or a point in time that you knew being in, you know, whether it was your first time volunteering at an organization or something of that nature. Do you guys have a memorable story that you would be willing to share with us, that kind of just really just brought you into this industry? Well, Leah, you can go 1st. Oh, sure did you have to think about it. So I had already been involved with a shelter from where I’m from back home, fostering. They did more temp fostering and the animals were the dogs and stuff were transported up north to rescues up there, so they were gotten out of the area. So I would do temporary fostering for two or three weeks for this dog or that dog. And there was a major abuse case. A guy was hoarding Cain Corso’s, I believe, was the breed, and they were severely neglected. Most of them were very aggressive, but some of them were very, very sweet dogs. I didn’t get to meet any of them, but I was just on the outskirts of hearing all the drama that happened or around the handling of the dogs. And it really just struck a chord with me.
There’s a lot of animals out there that you don’t even realize need help before it’s too late. And so that kind of got me thinking like I want to be more involved, like with the dogs in our area and taking care of them here and, you know, hopefully preventing things like this from getting too bad because unfortunately, all of the dogs that were seized from that home were euthanized. And it really struck a chord with the shelter and kind of changed the way they did things. And still, to this day, it’s changed a lot. I can’t even imagine being in your shoes and at least being around that, that’s a very tough situation. And, you know, I’m happy that that kind of led you down a path, just wanting to make a difference and, you know, changing that outcome and really working at it. And so, you know, I appreciate you sharing that story, and it’s definitely not an easy one to hear, more or less actually be there to witness what was going on. Yeah, there were a lot of other details that were gory and not pleasant, and just seeing the way the volunteers reacted with each other and kind of turned on each other. Like the one woman that kind of brought me into it, she was done really dirty, to say the least. And that kind of got me thinking, I need to be more involved in kind of, you know, be on the front of this. And I feel like the group that we have as the board members, I know that that would never happen, like getting turned on, or you know, we all have each other’s backs. So that was one of the big things for me. Good and that’s a great outcome if you can tell the difference in the organizations that you’re within the groups of people that you surround yourself with. And I think you know, from talking to both you ladies, you’ve definitely found a good foundation, and you guys all support each other, and that’s what we need in this industry is to work together towards the same goal. And so I love hearing that.
So, Gina, what is your story? My story is not so sad. I have always been that person that takes in strays or I’ve always been like the dogs that nobody else liked. About five years ago, my husband and I had this discussion about how our dogs were getting older and we’d like to maybe add another dog so that the dog could grow up with our daughter and make it through high school with her, at least because our dogs are getting up there in years. And so we thought we would foster dogs, just to see how our dogs did with other dogs. Because we don’t really socialize our dogs that much. They kind of stay at home. They’re homebodies. So we thought we would take this opportunity and foster a dog. So we went and picked out a dog to foster with my husband’s friend, who ran this dog rescue. And we brought that dog home and it wasn’t 24 hours, and my husband was like we’re keeping the dog. And I’m like, Whoa, no, we’re just supposed to be fostering the dog. We weren’t ready to add a dog yet. But we ended up with that dog and we named him Foster, and he’s been here ever since. I love that. I mean, that’s truly that’s me. I go back and forth with my husband all the time like I want a foster. And he’s like, Um no, I’d rather if you didn’t because I would be that typical foster failure. I would keep them. Ask her how many times she’s done that. Oh, no. I have now foster failed two more times since that one. I have six dogs in the house. Oh, my gosh. Yeah, that would totally be me. And it sounds like you got, you know, a younger daughter as well, I’ve got two small children and we actually have three cats, so.
No, but I love hearing that. And I think it’s great and it happens, you know? I mean, how do you, in my eyes, how do you spend so much time being a foster? And, you know, it’s never easy when you have to say bye. And they found a good, even though they found a good home. It’s still hard, you know. They take a piece of your heart with you. Well, Leah will tell you it is sometimes easy to let go of the dog. Sometimes you’re kicking him out the door. Oh gosh. But I love that you’re guys’ enthusiasm. I can tell that you guys are really into what you’re doing and you’re passionate about it. And that strikes me in a good place. You guys are doing great work. It seems like you know, even though you guys are fairly new, you guys are definitely down the right road, you guys got an amazing vision.
And, you know, that kind of just makes me wonder. Would you guys be able in a share with us some of your future goals for your organization? Well, we just want to keep growing and keep saving dogs. Eventually, we would like to have, like Leah said earlier, we would like to have a facility where we can bring in dogs if we don’t have a foster ready, where they can stay and be safe and have a little quarantine time of their own, a little calming down period before they go into a new home. Sometimes dogs need that time to decompress, so that would be a great thing that we would love to be able to do for them. We’d love to be able to be more involved in the community and offer more events and offer more assistance to those people in the community, that maybe can’t afford vetting or dog food or just need some help with their dogs, with training or something. So we just want to be more of what we are now. Yeah, that’s a good plan. And I really like that. You guys want to be more involved with your community and helping people out because, you know, that’s really worried that, you know if we can keep more animals in their homes and help out the pet parents because it’s tough. I mean, being a pet parent is hard, especially, you know, right now people are losing their jobs left and right, and they’re wondering how they’re gonna feed themselves a little on their pets. So it’s great that you guys have that vision in mind to help people keep their animals in their homes.
We have people contact us about surrendering their animals. We always try to ask, Why do they need to be surrendered? If there’s some kind of fix that we can help you with to keep your dog and that’s what we would do. If it’s just because you can’t afford vetting or you can’t afford for the pet that maybe we can help you out with that. If it is some other reason like you’re gonna be kicked out of your apartment and that, probably we can’t help. But we did recently take in a dog who’s human mom was homeless and she was living in a hotel room and the dog had puppies, and she had nowhere for this dog to go. So we took the dog in, probably more quickly than we should have. The dog was very aggressive towards Leah. The dog and the puppies were at Leah’s. She is very aggressive towards her. But she was scared. She was in a new place with these puppies, who were a week old. She didn’t know what was going on, so we finally worked it out, well, the human worked it out, that she was able to stay with her ex-husband’s family, and they were able to keep the dog until the puppies were weaned. And then we moved the puppies into foster homes, and then we spayed the mom so that she wouldn’t have this issue again, and it gave the human time to get her back on her feet.
That just shows your guys’ compassion. You know, you’re willing to work the best of the situation. You know, taking that animal and letting the human get their life together, so to speak. And the fact that you guys took those extra steps to ensure that the best outcome was met. It’s truly amazing the work that you guys were doing, and I’m loving that you guys are sharing that with us.
So if we have any of our listeners or people that are in your area, that really want to help you guys out, whether it’s to be a foster or potentially adopt or donate and just support you guys in general, what is the best way that they can get in contact with you guys? They can reach us on Facebook under Bluegrass Bully Rescue. They can reach us on Instagram. They can email us at [email protected] Any of those things we answer or respond to messages pretty quickly. Perfect.
So do you ladies have anything else that you would like to share with us today before we wrap things up? I was just trying to think. I think we kind of hit all our good bases. I would just like to say it really does feel like a family when someone fosters with us or adopts it with us. Not everybody keeps in touch, you know, everybody is a little different, but we keep in touch with quite a few of our adopters. We see you know, our pups or dogs growing up and settling into their homes. And we have a group on Facebook for our adopters, and they share pictures and stuff. And then, you know, littermates, parents will get together and post pictures like, Oh, what’s Parker look like nowadays? No, it really does feel like a big, crazy family. And when someone new to fostering, we always say, “Welcome to the crazy family”. But that’s awesome that you guys even offer something like that for your adopters and the fact that they can meet up and share photos with you, and that’s truly amazing. I think it helps you guys, you know, to see you maybe had an animal come in that just had a hard time. And now look at they’re happy and they’re probably putting on weight because they’re happy with their new family. So it’s great that you guys get to see that.
We make sure that all of our adopters know that we are here for the life of their pet. So if at any point during their lifetime that they decide or are in a position where they can no longer take care of that dog, it comes back to us. We’re always here for you. And that’s amazing that you guys are supporting that. I personally love it. I love everything that you guys have done. I’m super thankful that you both were able to join me today and just share with us overall what you guys are doing and how hard you guys are working. And it’s great to see that, overall, you guys, we’re a family and I couldn’t be more grateful that you guys were willing to share that with us. Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to share. Thank you.
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