happy endings keep woman passionate about rescuing abused, neglected dachshunds

January 9, 2007 10:36am CST
It's been a year since her first rescue, but simply recalling the story still evokes tender sentiment and triumphant tears from Sue Romano. "I got a phone call last year in August from a woman who said, 'Sue, there's a little boy in Nashville that is going to be euthanized this Friday if we don't save him.'" Romano, along with a friend who also volunteers with the Almost Home Dachshund Rescue Society, immediately began impassioned attempts to save the dog's life. "We tried all week to get a hold of that shelter to let them know that we wanted that little boy," the Catlettsburg resident said. Almost Home Dachshund Rescue Society, founded in 2001, is a nationwide organization of volunteers, like Romano, working to rescue abandoned, abused, neglected, and unwanted dachshunds and dachshund mixes. Finally, the rescuers were able to get in touch with a shelter worker. Romano said the dog was picked up by her collaborator. Although she would like to retire to rescue and care for dachshunds full-time, she is employed as a terminal operator at Marathon where she has worked for more than 20 years. After the dog was picked up in Nashville, the two rescuers met at Flying J in Catlettsburg. "The woman who picked the dog up said she had to pull over on the side of the road because he was so covered in fleas and ticks. She tried to get as many off as she could but advised me to bathe the dog as soon as I got home." When necessary, AHDRS volunteers will provide veterinary and behavioral care for the dogs they take in before placing them in appropriate homes. After giving the dog a bath, Romano said he looked wonderful. She would be the dog's foster mom for the time being. As an independent rescuer, Romano maintains control over how she rescues and places foster dogs and she is responsible for the medical care the dogs require, which determines their own adoption fees. Romano's husband, Chris, also works at Marathon as a transport driver. "He's a really big asset to getting the dogs transported when they are adopted," she said. "Although he is gone quite a bit with his job, he can transport the dogs for me to different places near where he has to travel." The Romanos currently have seven dogs at their home, five of which are dachshunds: Mattie, Molly, Millie, Sadie Mae and Maggie, who was rescued in North Carolina from a seven-year life in a cage at a puppy mill. "I've always loved dachshunds," she said. "My first one passed away several years ago. After that, I started looking constantly in the paper for another one. On the way to pick up Millie, I decided I wanted to get involved with Almost Home, the rescue society that helped me adopt my Millie, and now here I am, up to my knees in dachshunds. "The organization's network offers a new approach to dachshund rescue in that we offer a place for volunteers to access information from a national Web site, almosthomerescue.org, to post available dachshunds, and utilize the support of other members in the rescue network for fundraising, transporting, and potential adopter home checks. "Together we help hundreds of dachshunds and dachshund-mixes each year. When we take them in they have to be in good shape before they can be adopted," Romano explained. "Dental and veterinarian bills, medication, food and other supplies are all out-of-pocket costs. No one is going to pay $700 for a $200 dog no matter what you had to spend of your own money to make that puppy happy and healthy. If you are in rescue, you are always in the red." But it's the happy endings that make it all worth it. The flea- and tick-infested dog Romano rescued from Tennessee in August 2005 is one example of a successful rescue. "A driver at work said he wanted a dachshund but he was hesitant to get one because he was afraid his daughter, who is autistic, wouldn't do well with a dog," Romano explained. Regardless, Romano took the dog to the little girl, who hit the dog immediately. "She didn't want anything to do with him," Romano said, "but it was like the dog knew what he was there for. He came right back to that little girl and put his face right in hers and then she started massaging his ears." Romano said that since then, the dog has become the little girl's assistant. When she has a seizure, he lies across her and he follows her everywhere she goes. This is why Romano said she is so passionate about being a part of the rescue organization. "I love it and wouldn't take anything for it. Instead of spending money to euthanize these babies, that money should be used to spay and neuter them. That would solve the problem with over-population." She'll never buy another dog. Romano said any four-legged friend of hers will come from an animal shelter or rescue organization from now on. "If anything comes out of this, I want people to know that dog rescue organizations are a good place to get animals and they should be supported. Anything is better than dumping dogs off on the side of the road."
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