A playful, but blind Chihuahua
mix puppy. A frightened, snappish Jack Russell-Toy Fox Terrier mix. An emaciated German Shepherd
Dog pup needing heart surgery. Though differing in their breed makeups and problems, Reuben, Franzi, and Imann, respectively, shared dismal prospects for being cared for and adopted from the crowded shelters where they landed. Fortunately, help was just a phone call away.
"The shelters call us for any animal that's disabled, injured, traumatized, or emotionally failing in the shelter environment," says Heather Hines, founder and director of Indigo Rescue in Beaverton, Ore. "These pets are basically unadoptable because they don't show well, or the shelters don't have the resources to take care of them."
Upon taking these challenging cases under its wing, the nonprofit rescue provides treatment and rehabilitation, training, foster care, and — ultimately and after careful screening — a loving new home.
"We half-jokingly refer to ourselves as the Match.com of people and pets, because we're all about making compatible matches,'' Hines says.
However, helping pets with expensive medical issues or in need of behavioral work comes with hefty costs. Started in 1998 and named in honor of Hines' beloved feline friend, the fledgling rescue nearly floundered as she and fellow volunteers struggled to raise enough money to aid a tidal wave of damaged, discarded pets.
When a generous bequest fell into their laps nearly six years ago, "We talked about what we should do," Hines recalls. "Do we squander it on our veterinary bills and financial woes or spend it on something to finance our rescue efforts?"