MINNETONKA, MINN. (WCCO) – One Twin Cities woman was able to turn her passion into a career, helping thousands of dogs in the process.
Secondhand Hounds takes in animals that have been neglected, in shelters or puppy mills. They have become one of the largest dog rescue organizations in the state.
The bond between owner and pet is a strong one. But, for Secondhand Hounds founder Rachel Mairose, that connection with dogs doesn’t end with Lily, a bull terrier mix. There’s also King, a pit bull, and Duke, a German shepherd, as well as hundreds of other dogs that get her attention.
“I spend time with these dogs every day, especially ones that are here. They’re just really important to me,” Mairose said.
When she was 24 years old, Rachel created the non-profit. The goal was to find homes for just a few dogs every week.
“I started saying, ‘We’d only have 30 dogs at a time,'” said Mairose.
Three years later, the non-profit far exceeded her expectations.
“We get 200 requests, a day, for dogs that need homes,” she said.
With new rescues coming in every day, and nearly 200 dogs already the Secondhand Hound system, the key to making the organization run smoothly is the volunteers.
Most of the outreach is done on Facebook and the internet. Rachel puts out numerous posts a day keeping people updated on what help is needed and what dogs are coming in.
“I would have to call 500 people to get the same amount of people that see the post,” she said. “I don’t think we could do this without social media. It’s crazy how important it is to get the word out.”
Volunteers not only take the animals on walks, bring them to vet visits and feed them. But hundreds of people, like Candy Theis, also foster the dogs until they find a permanent home.
‘These guys that have had a tough life, they just are so, you almost can sense a gratitude in them that they’re loved and taken care of,” Theis said.
Sometimes those families become the permanent owners. Theis calls herself a foster failure when she brought home, Glen, a terrier mix.
“I pretty much fell in love with him in 30 minutes,” she said.
3,600 dogs from all over the Midwest have found a home because of Secondhand Hounds.
‘It’s really emotional that we, together, can save that many dogs,” said Mairose.
Secondhand Hounds is funded by the pet adoption fees and also donations.
For more information on volunteering or fostering go to www.secondhandhounds.org.