Sometime in the spring of 2009, a handful of members on the blind dog owner support group were talking about the volume of blind dogs in shelters. Blind dogs seem to fall through the cracks in shelters, especially mixed breeds. If only there were a blind dog rescue….could WE start a blind dog rescue??? Have members all over the US and Canada? The task seemed daunting, and near impossible. How can we organize people so spread out? Are enough people even interested in helping? We formed an email list to discuss it. 30 people joined and started sharing ideas. Slowly we formed teams, and team coordinators, a Board of Directors, bylaws, policies, all the necessary elements. Even then, I’m not sure we thought it would actually work.
Then Tex arrived at a shelter in GA. Sweet, young, mixed breed Tex. He was out of time, and was scheduled for euthanization early on a Tuesday morning in August. Colleen, the newly appointed Vice President, was determined to save him. She spent hours on the phone: finding a foster home, arranging for someone to pull him from the shelter, getting him vetted and ready for his trip, organizing a transport from Georgia to Wisconsin. Renamed Adam, an appropriate name for our first dog, he joined the BDRA family on August 11, 2009.
From that first foster, we have grown faster and bigger than we ever anticipated. I remember hoping that we could save maybe 20-25 dogs our first year, if we were lucky. To date, we have rescued 65 and adopted out 32. We have over 100 volunteers spread throughout the US and Canada. We have over 2500 people following us on Facebook, who have donated thousands of dollars to us to help pay our vet bills for our foster dogs. We have lost a couple very sick BDRA dogs, and we will never forget them (Godspeed Zinha and Carly, we miss you). We have been interviewed on TV and in print, including Dog Fancy magazine. We have run numerous transports around the country to get our dogs to their foster and forever home. We have attended over a dozen events to spread the word about BDRA, and about the spirit and determination of blind dogs.
We couldn’t have done this without a lot of help. Thank you to everyone who has supported BDRA. To our volunteers, who devote their precious free time to our mission, after work, weekends, sacrificing for the special dogs in BDRA’s care. To our adopters, opening their hearts and homes to our dogs. To our supporters, who donate what money they can to allow us to rescue more dogs, over and over again. To the drivers who give up their weekends to help move our dogs out of shelters and to their foster homes. To the people who crosspost our information everywhere, spreading the word about blind dogs. To the dogs, who show us that blindness is not a handicap, and that blind dogs really do see with their hearts.
As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way, baby! And we’re going to keep on going until every blind and visually impaired dog has a home and a warm bed to sleep in at night.
Karen Belfi, President