by Jenna Trisko
Ruff Start Rescue, located in Princeton, is an animal welfare organization that rescues homeless pets through a volunteer foster program. The organization was founded in 2010 by its director, Azure Davis, who saw a need for an animal rescue based on the lack of shelters available in Princeton and the surrounding area. The organization has grown tremendously throughout the last five years and now provides services to 16 counties in central and southeastern Minnesota, including Benton, Stearns and Sherburne. It has captured the attention of many local residents through both adoption and volunteerism.
Carrie Schueller of Sauk Rapids got involved with Ruff Start Rescue after a friend had adopted a pet from the organization and she wanted to learn more about the animal rescue world. She owned animals throughout her life and wanted to get involved and make a difference. Schueller has been volunteering with the rescue since 2013 and also adopted her dog, Milo, through Ruff Start. Milo was the 10th dog Schueller had fostered through the rescue during the span of a year.
“He fit in like the missing piece,” she said. “There’s nothing better than to come home after a long day at work and be loved unconditionally. He is so excited to see us, he just makes us all happy.“
She also spoke about the importance of animal rescue and the value of volunteering by saying, “There was a lack of rescue presence in this area. We (Ruff Start Rescue) are now building a presence, but we need more volunteers; we need to save more (animals).”
Rachel Babcock of Sartell has been fostering with the rescue for the last year and adopted her dog, Casper, through Ruff Start.
“I love working with this rescue because everyone has so much passion for animals,” Babcock said. “It’s the best organization ever. They take such good care of animals, it’s insane.”
Since its inception, Ruff Start Rescue has taken in more than 3,300 animals. The rescue generally has about 150 animals available for adoption at any time, thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteer foster homes. Each available animal is given routine vaccinations, dewormed, spayed or neutered, and microchipped prior to adoption. Additionally, the rescue does provide more extensive veterinary care to those animals requiring more advanced medical care. If you are interested in finding a new furry friend, check out www.ruffstartrescue.org to view available animals. You can also see Ruff Start Rescue in action at Petsmart in Waite Park on the fourth Saturday of every month from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for the organization’s monthly adoption event.
Volunteer and adopter Laura Becker of Rice has fostered more than 35 dogs with the rescue and has taken on dogs with behavioral and medical issues due to abuse and neglect. Becker emphasized this experience has taught her 18-year-old son about how cruel people can be to animals and what it takes to rehabilitate these animals and develop trust.
Becker spoke passionately about the organization.
“Ruff Start,” she said, “is a great organization that has a lot of wonderful volunteers with the same common goal – to find forever homes. And the people (volunteers) understand a dog is not just a dog, it’s a family member.”
There are more than 1,000 volunteers with Ruff Start who assist with a multitude of different duties that include foster care, animal and supplies transport, special-event fundraising, community education, social-media marketing, accounting, veterinary care, adoption-event participation and more. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer options available at Ruff Start Rescue, please visit www.ruffstartrescue.org and click on the Get Involved link.