“I really would love to have a school program starting in the elementary schools to talk to kids about how huge of a responsibility it is to have a pet and how it is a lifetime commitment”
I had the pleasure to interview Heather Strand, President/Founder of Outlaw Dogs Rescue
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
- I knew I loved dogs when I was little, one of my favorite stories was when I was 4 years old being dragged down the street by my dad German shepherd and my parents screaming and chasing us yelling, “let go of the leash” my response screaming, “NOOO!!! He’ll get away” Thats when I knew I just loved animals. I started finding lose dogs and bringing them home for my parents to call their owners if they had tags or animal control to take them to find their owners. I had lizards, frogs, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, dogs my whole life. I got my own dog at 9 years old, she was a pomeranian and my sheltie at 11 years old. I would do haircuts and baths on them all the time with some previous practice on my stuffed animals before my parents let me use the clippers on them. I then decided at 21 years old to start my own private rescue 2009 and then when it was going great, filed for our non-profit status in 2012. I have done litters, strays, shelter dogs, owner surrenders and continued to help by saving one dog at a time.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
- Outlaw Dogs has a lot going on right now including just delivered our pregnant Harley’s puppies yesterday for a whopping 1:45PM to 4AM difficult delivery and emergency vet visit at 12:30AM. Another, we have Bubba, a 2 year old handsome olde english bulldog in the rescue from LA for bite report, so was rescue only and he is striving with us, making huge improvements everyday. We also have Diamond, a 6 year old american bulldog mix in boarding that we are looking for a home with big dogs or no dog home and she is a total sweetheart and cuddlebug. We have a total of 20 dogs/puppies in the rescue currently. I do all the grooming on the rescue dogs and for my fosters dogs as well, all free of charge as an appreciation because the foster families continue to foster for me for years. I have the best fosters, board members, friends, family, supports/fans for my rescue. They are all so amazing with caring for these sweet animals without asking for anything in return.
So how exactly does your organization help people?
- Outlaw Dogs helps out the community by making room in the shelters by taking dogs that could/would be euthanized for space because of overcrowding and it makes more time for the ones in there. Shelters gets dogs from people who are not stable to have a pet financially or living situations change, so they surrender them or from people not fixing their pets and then we have accidental pregnancies and extra dogs that weren’t meant to happen. Outlaw dogs also has an owner surrender program, which if owners cannot care for a dog or living situations change and they cannot find a place, the owners can sign the dog over to us to have fostered and put up for adoption to find a forever home. We have paid for some dogs to be fixed for those who cannot afford it and had already had accidental pregnancies in the past. The foster program allows Outlaw Dogs to pay and provides any and all supplies if needed as well as pays for any medical needed, including spay/neuter, shots, dewormings, microchips. surgerys, dentals, etc.
This obviously is not easy work. What drives you?
- I am driven by the happy endings of dogs being in their forever families and not going back to the shelters. Although I have had my share of sad stories, the good outweigh the bad. When I see the dogs striving in their foster homes till adopted and then get updates about them and they are so spoiled and happy, it makes my heart happy.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- I really would love to have a school program starting in the elementary schools to talk to kids about how huge of a responsibility it is to have a pet and that it is a lifetime commitment
- I’d like to explain in the middle schools and high schools to spay/neuter their pets so we dont have accidental pregnancies and the problems with breeding for money if you dont have the knowledge to properly breed and care for the moms and pups. Funding would be a huge part in this because if we had the funding to travel, I would be able to do the speaking at the schools to help solve this problem.
- Backyard breeders are also a problem, they don’t check the temperment or body anatomy before breeding and just want the money, which creates problems with their puppies anatomy like deformities.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
- My family, friends, fosters, and supporter helped me to start this for believing in me and helped a lot. If I didnt have them to push, support and jump in when needed, none of this would have been possible.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Its very emotionally draining, having to realize you cannot save all of them and some will die is hard to grasp………walk a day in my shoes and you will see what I mean. Having to make the call if its better for a puppy or dog to be euthanized because its suffering is the hardest thing you have to do and you have a duty to be with them to comfort them while they “go to sleep forever”
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see just see this. 🙂
- I dont have one person, I have many, just two of them are: Keanu Reeves, Katherine Heigl, anyone who supports animals is an amazing human being, because they don’t have a voice and we have to be their voices.
Originally published at medium.com