A week from now we will be on shelter tour, hitting seven shelters in six states.
As always, it will be a whirlwind, and as always I will learn something new about shelters and dog rescue and heroes and how we fix this problem of so many unwanted, adoptable animals suffering and dying senselessly.
And as always, we will meet so many dogs! Dogs who have been in a shelter for months, dogs who have serious medical needs, dogs who don’t have much time left, and dogs who have a rescue ticket out. We will hand out treats and gather stories and do what we can to help.
In our first year of being a 501(c)(3) non-profit we’ve had to think through what we want to do, what we can do, and how to be communicate that mission to reach more hearts and bring more change.
It’s a tall order, but it all starts with these shelter tours.
I’d been fostering and working in rescue for four years before I went to my first shelter. I can still remember how stunned I was by what I saw, what I learned, and the people I met. How did I not know?
That’s when the idea of Who Will Let the Dogs Out was born. We cannot begin to understand what is happening and how to fix it, unless we go to the shelters, unless we see for ourselves. The stories I write, the pictures Nancy takes, and the documentary we made with Farnival Films were all motivated by that belief—show the people what is really happening and they will want to change the narrative.
And you can also help any of the individual shelters we visit directly. We’ll post their Amazon wishlists, social media links, and websites as we go. Even the smallest amount makes a huge difference.
The people who work in small struggling shelters can become overwhelmed with the task they’re given. There is never enough money or veterinary access or kennels or rescue transports or volunteers or time. They juggle lives on a daily basis, making hard decisions and doing the hard work. Often the most important thing we do is simply show up. Our presence says—You matter. The work you are doing is important. We care.
Stories are powerful. Pictures can move hearts. But the connections we make when we meet the people and see the situation for ourselves enables us to find more ways to help.
These shelter stops are just the beginning of the work. Afterwards, we continue to work with the shelters helping them find grants to apply for, sharing ideas and connecting them with resources, being their advocates and supporters by sharing their ongoing story with the ultimate goal that they become self-sustaining shelters, not dependent on rescue, and an important resource for their community.
We’d love to have your help. One easy volunteer job we have is shelter liaison. It takes just a few minutes a week. We match you up with a shelter (or several shelters if you’d like) and you act as a link between the shelter and WALDO, following the shelter on social media, keeping up with their situation, their needs, and their successes. As we approach 100 shelters visited, shelter liaisons make sure that we stay connected, so we can step in to help or celebrate when it’s appropriate. If you’d like to volunteer to be a shelter liaison (or help in other ways) fill out our volunteer form.
We hope you’ll join us on tour. Look for our posts and videos on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok.
This trip is made possible by your donations. We’re still a bit short, so I thought I’d tell you just how we will spend the donations you send our way:
- $100 funds our rental vehicle for a day
- $80 buys three boxes of Capstar (or CapAction is a critical need at shelters. It provides immediate release for flea infested animals)
- $60 buys us a tank of gas
- $50 buys two large bags of high-protein dog food
- $25 buys two cases of canned food
- $10 buys a big bag of treats or busy bones
Here is our tour schedule, in case you’d like to keep track of us:
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.