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BOGO Spotlight: Speak! for the Unspoken

by Carole Feeny |

As a part of our commitment to giving back to rescue groups, we select two organizations every month to be the recipient of our Buy One Give One (BOGO) program. Our BOGO program is based on online sales from our leash and collar collections. For every collar/leash purchased, one is donated to a rescue group.

We met this wonderful group at the Fetch a Friend Event in Columbus last year and just fell in love with them! We couldn't be more thrilled to have Speak! for the Unspoken as our BOGO recipient from August 16“ 31th, 2018.

SPEAK! for the Unspoken is a registered 501(c)(3) pet rescue located in the Columbus, Ohio area. They are a small foster based rescue, devoted to animal rescue and specializing in special needs rescue and education. They focus their efforts on special needs dogs and cats. Their motto is special needs, good deeds. We see possibilities, not disabilities." 

SPEAK! is committed to proving that 'special needs' dogs are just as capable as 'normal' dogs. Special needs dogs, such as double merle Australian shepherds, are the result of irresponsible merle to merle breeding. Many other breeds also contain this recessive gene and when bred improperly, can result in blindness, deafness, or both. Twenty-five percent (25%) of puppies born as a result of this type of breeding, are born with sight or hearing deficiencies. It's dogs like these that hold a special place in our heart! We work hard to educate the public about irresponsible breeding and we foster and rescue the special needs dogs to make sure they can live a happy life regardless of their impairments.

What is involved in keeping a foster-based rescue going? (How many adoptable dogs are in your program? Where do your dogs come from?)

We have anywhere from 30-50 dogs in our rescue at any given time with about 75 foster homes in total involved at some point during the year. Our dogs have come from all over the country, but primarily from Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Texas and Tennessee. We are 100% foster based and do not have a physical building for our rescue. Taking in special needs pets can be super daunting, but we provide a foster orientation class that helps newer families feel a little more confident when taking in these pets. Speak! got its start in 2013 and each year we have grown in adoptions and foster homes. We are well on our way to successfully adopting out over 200 animals this year, and adopted out 210 in 2016.

What are some of the things your group is known for?

Our rescue group is known for our Special Needs and Good Deeds motto. We specialize in dogs that are blind, deaf or both due to poor breeding. When two merle colored dogs are bred together, there is a 25% chance that these dogs will be born with these disabilities and are called double merle. We take these dogs in that no one usually wants or even know how to care for, and give them the skills needed to be just like any other dog and have a full life! We also use our good deeds part of our motto to show how we can take in other pets that need good homes as well. We recently became part of a network of rescues that takes in puppy mill dogs. These dogs might not be physically or visibly disabled, but have a ton of baggage that they carry emotionally.

Taking in primarily special needs dogs can sometimes be very challenging and very intimidating. We have to train them differently, and usually these dogs don't even know a eyes or no command. Things that seem simple turn out to be quite a challenging process. But - when we see it click in the dog's mind when they finally understand a command, it makes all the literal blood, sweat and tears worth it. When fosters devote that much to the dogs, seeing the new owner become passionate about the same thing we are certainly lights a new fire under us. We also try to stay in touch with the new families and seeing the dog continue to learn and have a great life is one of the best feelings in the world.

What is the most rewarding part about fostering? What would you say to otherswho are considering fostering for a group like yours?

What makes our group special is our teamwork. Oftentimes, it is difficult to remain connected with a large group of people doing different things for different animals. But our team has developed a system where we remain in contact with each other and help each other out. We have almost what is like our own support group. Having a dog that is not special needs, but who is also (more than likely) coming from a bad situation takes its toll on a person. Not everyone fostering understands exactly what it means to have a special needs pet. When someone needs a break or help, other fosters are ready to step up right away. We are all passionate about the dogs and want what is best for them

Let us know anything else you'd like to share with us.

At Speak!, we use a hashtag: #impairedwhocares, which means that even though a dog may be impaired, that doesn't mean that they can't live a full and happy life! Please consider giving a special needs dog a chance! Check out our website for more information on Double Merles and help us educate others on harmful breeding practices.

Be sure to follow Speak! on Facebook and Instagram.

SUPPORT Speak! WITH OUR BOGO PROGRAM! Don't need a new collar or leash right now? No problem. By simply placing a note in your order, we will gladly send your purchase directly to the shelter, along with a note from you and the free one from us.

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