RUTLEDGE, Ga. - Acre after acre in Rutledge, Georgia. A playground. A safe haven for dogs with "tuxedo-like" markings. We’re talking about Boston Terriers. Their smushy-faced friends are also welcome at the Rescue Ranch.
“It’s nonstop. 24 hours a day. We live here. We built the shelter on our property, so we never stop,” explains Renee Ussery.
Renee and Courtney of Rescue Ranch Pups, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, started what they call their passion with one rescue dog. And then, they say, became involved in a hoarding case:
“36 Bostons and Pugs with nowhere to go. And they put them in Animal Control. The only place they could go. So many got sick. We lost more than half. We decided we wanted to do something - bigger,” Courtney remembers.
That’s when they built a facility with kennels to serve as an emergency shelter for animals in similar situations. Volunteers who help keep the rescue going have encountered a lot of pep and personality every since. At least 100 dogs transition through the Ranch each year. Many, with special needs. Like Harley, a senior sweetheart. Blind in both eyes, but still spry. He wears a special halo to keep him safer.
“It doesn’t matter to us if they have eyes, if they’re deaf, how old they are,” explains Michelle Doyal, a foster, and volunteer. "It’s a challenge as far as constantly worrying about how much time you have with them, especially since you already fell in love with them,” she adds.
The Rescue Ranch's mission, its creators say, is to be a positive force in animal rescue, make the pups well and whole and find them loving homes.
And their reach is now expanding. They recently started a rural outreach program, supporting more than a dozen other rescue services and shelters.
“We’re working with a couple of food distributors to get food to other rescues. That’s their biggest struggle. How they’re going to feed what they bring in,” Courtney details.
Even while thinking big, the focus still remains small, on one dog at a time. Like Pop, who after rehab is now eating and drinking out of a bowl. A small victory.
“When Pop came to us, he just laid on his side. We look at the quality of life. That’s the guiding rule for the dogs we work with,” Renee adds.
And they see the dogs that leave the Ranch to make a difference - providing companionship and a whole lot of laughter to those who adopt.
“It’s amazing. They get under your skin and into your heart real quick,” Harley’s foster agrees.
Anyone who wants to help may donate money. It's tax deductible. Or volunteer washing dogs and kennels at the Rescue Ranch in Rutledge. Another option is helping at your local animal control. Everyone needs help - helping animals in need.