Saving Webster Dogs is a unique rescue run by one of the hardest working, most dedicated woman I know (and I know a lot of women in rescue).
Rose cares for between 75 and 115 dogs at a time on her hillside farm (often single-handedly). Volunteers are few and far between in the impoverished, rural area. The dogs, mostly hound dogs, live outside in cobbled together kennels on often muddy ground with dog houses and wooden pallets to get them out of the muck. Because it takes four and a half hours to water and feed them, it only happens once a day.
I wrote about Rose and Saving Webster Dogs after our first visit there in 2021. We visited again this past June and the story had changed little, but there are more dogs and even less help.
Simply put, without Rose, all of these dogs would die at the local dog pound after a five-day stray hold. That had been the practice until Rose learned of it and began bringing home the dogs whose time was up. From there Saving Webster Dogs grew into a nonprofit that makes sure the dogs are spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations, before networking to get them out of West Virginia with the help of rescue partners (of which they could us a LOT more).
These days, the county animal control officer doesn’t even bother taking the dogs to the pound, instead he brings them directly to Rose. Rose knows their fate if she says no, so she takes them all in, finding room where there is none. At our last visit in June, she had 115 dogs in the rescue. Many are young hounds who didn’t cut it as a hunting dog.
Last year Rose lost her husband unexpectedly, and all of us who know about Saving Webster Dogs held our collective breath, expecting a devastating turn for the dogs of Webster County. Instead, Rose double-downed and poured herself into saving every dog. She is doing amazing things, but she can’t keep up this pace. She needs our help. She needs your help.
A month from now, instead of simply telling their story in words and pictures, we are going to offer hands-on help at Saving Webster Dogs in Cowen, West Virginia. We’ve partnered with two nonprofit groups (Tails of Hope and For Otis Sake) who advocate for this special rescue to put on a work weekend August 5-7.
Volunteers from all three groups will converge on the hillside rescue to tackle projects like deep cleaning all the kennels, water and food bowls, and dog houses. We’ll offer the dogs one on one attention, getting the out for a walk, a grooming, and maybe a nail trim. We’ll tackle several bigger projects like installing a watering system to make Rose’s work easier, repairing worn out kennels, and cleaning up the grounds.
If you are able to travel to Cowen for a day, an afternoon, or the whole weekend, we’d love to have you join our Waldo team. We’ll be staying at a relatively inexpensive hotel in Summersville, WV, and hopefully organizing at least one team meal. You don’t need any special skills, just sturdy shoes, work gloves, and the willingness to work hard and get dirty to help dogs.
To volunteer to join our team, email email@example.com. If you can’t volunteer, but you’d like to help, you can donate to our work weekend, to purchase much needed supplies and improve the conditions for the dogs (and Rose). If you’d like to help Rose and SWD directly, you can donate here.
And if you or anyone you know lives near or in Webster County, we encourage you to contact Rose and volunteer. Or better yet, round up more like-minded souls and work with county leadership to find a better solution. The local community has the power to change this situation. They should not be relying on one woman to save the county’s dogs.
Until each one has a home,
The mission of Who Will Let the Dogs Out (we call it Waldo for short) is to raise awareness and resources for homeless dogs and the heroes who fight for them.
You can learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020). It’s the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south to find out where all the dogs were coming from. It tells the story of how Who Will Let the Dogs Out began. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.
Amber’s Halfway Home is our short documentary film produced in partnership with Farnival Films. It follows the work of a remarkable woman and one day of rescue in western Tennessee. Selected for sixteen film festivals (to date), it’s won eight awards (including Best Short Doc, Best Soundtrack, Best of Fest, and Audience Choice), and was nominated for an Emmy! It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring story we hope will compel viewers to work for change. Please watch it and share it far and wide.