Who Are We and Why Do We Do What We Do?

Some lucky dogs are in progressive shelters with staff, resources, and community support that enable them to find homes for all of their adoptable dogs through local adoptions and outside rescues.

Some not-so-lucky dogs are in open intake, high-kill shelters that are routinely forced to ‘euthanize for space.’ Many of the people who work in these shelters work desperately to save every dog they can but are understaffed, underfunded, undersupported, and overwhelmed.

And then there are the dogs left behind at tiny municipal pounds in rural communities on back roads people rarely travel.

These dogs live in sparse conditions with few resources and no extras. They are held in chain-link kennels behind police stations, at the city dump, or in squat concrete buildings with no heat/AC until their owners come for them or they are destroyed to make room for new dogs that arrive. Their pictures are not on a shelter website or Petfinder. Rarely is there anyone working to address their physical, emotional or behavioral needs, let alone search for an adopter. Their only chance beyond being claimed by their owners is for a rescue worker to visit the pound and ‘pull’ them, transporting them to rescues sometimes several states away.

We believe that change cannot happen without awareness. That’s why we start Who Will Let the Dogs Out and that’s why we travel to find and tell the stories.

Cast of characters:

Cara Achterberg

Cara with her beloved Frankie out for a spin
Cara is the author of two memoirs, four novels, and one book about living organically. She is an incorrigible blogger, a creative writing teacher, and a horrible dog wrangler who is learning not to trip over herself as she follows her talented dog Fanny Wiggles on the agility course. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, and three rescue dogs, occasional foster guests (canine and feline) where she is at work on her next book. You can information about all her scribblings at, CaraWrites.com.

Nancy Slattery

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Nancy with her dog Edith Wharton, a previous foster dog of Cara’s and now a certified therapy dog

Nancy is a photographer who can shoot just about anything, but truly shines when she tackles subjects having to do with the saving of dogs (or her amazing rescue dog, Edith Wharton). A preschool teacher and mother to four baby adults, she loves searching for really good pizza and vintage Alfa Romeos. Lucky Nancy says she is currently married to ‘the best person I know’ for thirty years.

 

Patty Larson

IMG-0122Originally from Iowa, Patty worked in international development for 15 years and was fortunate to work in more than 15 countries, mainly in Africa. (She was a volunteer in Haiti for 2 years.) Since then, she’s worked in immigration and refugee assistance in Montgomery County, MD where she’s lived for 20+ years. Patty grew up with an English bulldog and two collies and now has three rescue dogs of her own. Patty and her husband, Jerry, started fostering dogs after being inspired by Cara’s book, Another Good Dog. She brings skills and experience in grant research and writing, organizational development, community outreach, strategic planning and evaluation to assist organizations helping dogs in need. Patty loves biking, hiking, traveling and learning about other cultures & spending time with dogs of all kinds.

Ian Achterberg

Ian is currently studying media/marketing at Ithaca College. Photography and media are a passion of his and our first trip was his idea– a chance to see where some of the dogs we foster came from and to use his skills to help raise awareness of the situation. Ian is also a talented writer, having won a Scholastic National Gold Medal for his personal essay about one of our foster dogs. You can follow Ian’s 365 photography project on Instagram at Instagram.com/iachterberg_photo.

You may be curious about Ian’s hairstyle – rest assured it’s not cancer. Ian has alopecia areata universalis, a non-contagious auto-immune disorder that causes his white blood cells to attack his body’s hair follicles. Other than having no hair, Ian is very healthy and in addition to lifting weights, he competes in Varsity Swimming and Track & Field, in addition to playing soccer. If you’d like to know more about alopecia, visit National Alopecia Areata Foundation.