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BOGO Spotlight: TNDiamonds-in-the-Ruff Rescue

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 are excited to announce that TN Diamonds in the Ruff from Union City, TN, is our BOGO recipient from January 16-31, 2017.  Diamonds in the Ruff Animal Rescue is an all-volunteer, 501c3 non-profit local organization that began in October of 2012. The organization shines with a group of volunteers that work hard to provide vetting, care, and love until they are able to place the pets into good homes across the country. Without a physical shelter facility, Diamonds must rely on foster homes and protected kennels to house the dogs they rescue until forever homes are found. We asked Volunteer. Donna Brenner, a few questions to get our supporters familiar with the impact they are making on the animals and people in their community.

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

  Dedicated volunteers are at the heart of any small, foster-based rescue.  Volunteers who can function in a variety of ways are what keeps Diamonds in the Ruff going.  We have our "boots on the ground" volunteers who live in NW TN and they are the women who literally put on their boots and tramp through mud and ditches and woods to find the dog or litter of puppies that someone reported as being in need of rescue.  There are very limited official resources for folks in that area who find injured, abandoned or stray dogs, spot dogs running along a highway, or who have dogs dumped on their properties out in the country, so most of the dogs and puppies we rescue come from areas in rural Obion County that do not have a functioning Animal Control Department.  With no animal shelter in the area, we basically function like a shelter without the shelter building or staff.  Our volunteer fosters then take over to provide a home, care and training for the dogs we rescue, but there is always a shortage of foster homes so we rely on our networking volunteers who work with a lot of other rescues to move the dogs to more populated areas where their chance for exposure and adoption are greatly improved.  We have our "tech support" volunteers (one in Ohio and one in PA) who promote the dogs through Facebook, email and our website as well as through listings on Adopt-a-pet, Petfinder and RescueMe, to name a few.  And lastly, we have our "road warrior" volunteers who do both short distance and some very crazy, long distance transports.  With a core group of only 8 women, you can imagine that all the volunteers wear many different hats.  A few years ago, Diamonds hit a high of 110 dogs in its care at one time.  Thankfully, through improved networking efforts and use of more adoption sites, we now are averaging around 50 dogs in our care at any given time. The majority of dogs in our rescue are adoptable or on the way to becoming adoptable.  We do have a few seniors and a few other dogs with severe medical issues that will likely live out their days with us.

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

   Diamonds in the Ruff is probably known best for being the rescue in that area that will take on the tough cases that other rescues cannot or will not.  We take on any dog, regardless of what shape they are in and we work to raise the funds needed to treat whatever condition the dog has.  Providing treatment for heartworm positive dogs is almost commonplace for our rescue.  Dogs that would be euthanized in many areas are treated and go on to live good, full lives.  We have rescued dogs with such bad cases of mange that you could not tell what breed the dog was until their fur grew back.  We have rescued many injured dogs from those being struck by cars to those who have been abused by humans.  We have nursed many dogs back to health who have been abandoned and left to starve in homes or on chains in the yard after their humans moved away and left them behind.  I am happy to say we have lost very few dogs over many years and more often than not, these end up being happy stories.

  The other thing that we are probably known for is our willingness to go above and beyond if it means getting one of our dogs into a great home.  The rescue is pretty much in the middle of nowhere in NW TN, but our volunteers have personally transported dogs to an island off the coast of Washington state, South Dakota, Wyoming, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania (of course), New Jersey, New York, CT, VT, NH, VA, NC, GA, FL, AL, LA, KS, KY, IA, MO, MS, AR, to name a few.  We have driven dogs to Atlanta so that the great Delta Animal Rescue and Transport volunteers could fly a few of our dogs non-stop to California.  And we are big fans of Pilots 'n Paws who have helped tremendously.

Describe some of the more challenging moments in rescue and how you/the other volunteers got through it.

  We are an all-volunteer rescue and our volunteers make some pretty big sacrifices to help a problem that is created by others who take no responsibility for their actions.  There are many people who talk a mean game on social media, but very few who actually give up their own time or comfort or money to help homeless dogs.  That has led some volunteers to burn out, give up, and walk away.  It is hard on that person because they are walking away from something they loved doing.  It is hard on the rest of the volunteers who need to fill the void created by having one less volunteer in an already small group.  You get through it because you have to.  The alternative is to think of that litter of puppies freezing to death in a cold ditch instead of being warm and loved and in new homes.  A whiff of puppy breath or seeing the deep sleep of a dog spending his first night off a chain and inside a home helps.

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

   As hard as it might be to see them go after weeks and, in our case, sometimes months and even years, it is the very best feeling knowing that you helped and fostered that dog when nobody else would or could.  We call it bridging the gap between homeless and HOME.  A foster might help a dog gain weight or confidence or a nice coat or house manners.  They help that dog become the answer to some other family's dreams.  Working closely with adopters, it gives you an interesting perspective. 

Yes, homeless dogs need help and need homes and fosters provide that.  But fosters are also helping the people who end up adopting that dog.  Maybe it is a veteran with PTSD, or a retired couple whose kids are gone and they still need to nurture.  The people who adopt need the dog as much as the dog needs a home and a human to love.  It is a great feeling helping dogs and good people too.  Our fosters usually become Facebook or email friends with many of our adopters so they are able to follow their foster and see their happy life unfold.  Best feeling is getting a pupdate from an adopter and seeing your former foster on Santa's lap or hiking the Grand Canyon or just curled up on a comfy blanket on the sofa.  You can't beat it!

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