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Dog gone lucky

Rescue group helps rehabilitate pups in hopes of adoption

POSTED: December 26, 2010 12:30 a.m.
TOM REED /The Times

Aubree Holmes plays with her dogs Indie and Gemma, front, a dog she is taking care of.

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To say that Aubree Holmes has a soft spot for the underdog would be an understatement.

For the last five years, she and her fiancé, Jimmy Tench, have been rescuing dogs from puppy mills, online ads and various animal shelters.

"We started by rescuing dogs from Craigslist's (online ads). You would see a puppy listed, someone take it and then a few months later they would be looking for a new home for it," Holmes said.

"The next thing you know, this 9-month-old puppy has had four different homes."

Since relocating to Gainesville in July from Ohio, the couple has been rescuing dogs from euthanization at the Hall County Animal Shelter.

"Older dogs and adult dogs are the most endangered because they are the hardest to adopt out," said Holmes, co-founder of Oh My Dog Rescue.

"And there's only so many animals the shelter can accommodate, so the ones that have been there for a long time are also in danger of being euthanized."

Unlike other animal rescue programs, Holmes doesn't adopt the potential pets that she saves. Instead she helps find foster homes for the pets while she and her team of volunteers help remove some of the obstacles that impede adoption.

"A lot of times, people don't want a shelter dog because they don't know how it will behave. But when we rescue a dog, we keep it long enough to assess its behavior and get to know its (temperament)," Holmes said.

"Doing that helps us find the right family for them. We get to learn things like if they interact well with other dogs and children, or if they can be left out of their crate while you are away."

Holmes' team also works to house-break each of their rescues.

Sometimes, rescued animals come with a little extra baggage, but that hasn't deterred the OMD team.

While rescuing another animal, a black Cocker Spaniel caught Holmes eye; unfortunately the animal had recently tested positive for heartworms.

"Treating heartworms with a private veterinarian can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,000, luckily the animal shelter could treat it for $200," Holmes said.

"Through the generosity of our donors, we were able to raise the $200 for her care."

Since formally launching OMD, Holmes' says that they have rescued at least 15 dogs, of which, more than a dozen have been placed in their "furever" homes.

"We do a very thorough screening process to make sure that families are the right match for our dogs. We ask a lot of questions - like what they'll do with their dog when they're not at home and would they keep their pet if they moved," Holmes said.

"We also do a home visit, so we can see what type of home our dogs are going to. Some dogs need lots of outdoor space to run, others need to be the only dog in the house — a home visit lets us see all of those things."

Once a suitable match has been found, the animals are adopted through the Hall animal shelter, since OMD is only a foster program.

Thanks to the power of the Web and their website where potential families are able to view the adoptable animals, OMD has been able to find homes for their rescues all over Georgia and across the country.

Because she and her Tench are only able to house two dogs at a time in their apartment, Holmes says they are always on the look-out for new foster families.

"There's really no cost to foster families. As long as the dogs are in foster care, the animal shelter provides food and takes care of any medical fees," Holmes said.

In an effort to help other families that have opened their homes temporarily to a rescued dog, Holmes says they would be happy to post a blurb about the animal on OMD's website — after meeting the animal in person — to help find the animal a permanent home.

"We have big dreams for OMD. We'd like to open up branches all over the country," Holmes said.

"I know we can't save all of the dogs, but if we can make a difference in just one dog's life, then it's worth it."



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