Terry Casillas knows a thing or two about dog rescue and fostering a dog. She has two full-time jobs and one of them is dog rescue.
“Don’t expect rescue to pay for itself. My husband jokes that is a ‘for loss’ business, but that is not necessarily true,” Casillas says. “The true payment is the love of the dogs and the satisfaction of seeing the transformation from shelter dog to loving pet.”
The reality, she reports, is that rescue tends to be a negative profit so definitely make sure you are in a good financial situation before you start. For Terry and her husband, they have a plan for Terry to go full-time in a few years when everything is in order.
Terry and her rescue partner hubby, Publio, recently moved to a house with property so they could have the rescue dogs without bothering their neighbors.
Since they take in so in so many dogs with issues both medical and emotional, both of which require a lifetime of medications, they are very hard to adopt out.
Until there is more room, the couple is literally at a standstill.
So instead of relying on a kennel or some other physical location for their dogs, this dynamic duo decided to build their own kennel: Something with indoor/outdoor kennels, six cages, and runs.
“Our favorite thing is playing ball with them and that hasn't happened in a few weeks. So we are anxious to get this going,” Casillas says, “We severely underestimated the cost of both the fence and the building.”
Terry is also a hub for many other rescues in their area of Mississippi. “With the extra space we can foster more dogs, transport more dogs, and have volunteers come out and help,” Publio reports. “We have some great regular volunteers, but as with us, their resources are limited. Terry has dedicated herself to this and is continuing to make steps to be not only more efficient, but more professional.”
The other big issue is burn-out, according to the couple. They recommend having a good support system in place.
“You must be prepared with rescue to see a lot of terrible things and to deal with a lot of bad people/situations,” they share. “You must expect to work hard for no appreciation and no pay. It can take a toll on your mental health. “
Case in point: The satisfaction of developing trust from a dog that could not trust is more satisfying than any possible compensation. “We received a red Cocker Spaniel who was people aggressive. At first we were wary of him. We assumed he was just mean,” Casillas remembers.
“After we carefully removed all his matts, we discovered cigarette burns from his brow to his tail along his back. This poor boys was fear aggressive. What we learned soon was he attacked only our hands. He refused to sleep in our house. We would find him on the couch with his eyes open. After love and attention he now loves on us regularly and sleeps curled up with me. My husband and I relish whenever we get an 'Angus' kiss.”
I asked Terry what was the most “fun” part of this rescue labor of love she calls her life.
Her answer is steadfast. “Seeing the transformations of the dogs. When you get a dog in that has just given up or is in terrible medical condition and watch them blossom is amazing.
We get a lot of dogs in that don’t know how to play with toys or other dogs. It is so sad but then little by little they will learn how fun it is and once they do watching them run around barking and playing is just amazing. Also getting the updates/pictures from the adopters is so heartwarming and it makes you forget all the bad parts of rescue,” Casillas says.