When you lose your job, you're forced to think about your priorities and what's next. It doesn't matter if you particularly liked the job or not, it was paying the bills and keeping a roof over your head.
I lost my job a couple years after graduating university and it shook me to the core. Sure, I didn't love working customer service, but it was all I could find while looking for something in my field. It was almost a blessing in disguise, though, as not having a job forced me to look at my life and decide what I really wanted to do.
When Tracy Voss was laid off, she had the same decision to make. Mine was to be a writer, hers was to save lives.
Tracy, along with her husband Scott Whyatt, began the organization "Tracy's Dogs," which brings animals from high-kill shelters to safety.
"[Tracy's] been an animal lover all her life," Scott said. "And then at some point back in 2011, she was furloughed from her job for about six weeks. She started going down to the local city shelter in San Antonio to video dogs that they were stationing at another facility because they knew they wouldn't get adopted. So she started posting those videos on YouTube, and we started getting recognition from people all over the country, wanting to adopt the dogs in the videos. And from there it just sort of bloomed into this organization where we would go and rescue the dogs ourselves, bring them into this facility, and then re-home them ourselves."
These dogs need someone to take one more chance on them, and that's what Tracy and Scott do. But how can they manage it all?
It's not easy saving the lives of hundreds of dogs. In just nine months after launching their website, Tracy's Dogs was able to saved 1,382 dogs from being euthanized due to high-kill shelters.
“If I didn't have the support of Scott and my son I couldn't do this,” Tracy said. “The videos started going all over the country, and everybody wanted to help.”
The number of dogs saved is now near 4,000, and the organization is showing no signs of slowing down.
Each months, Scott and Tracy take off on a road trip to find unwanted dogs living at Texas high-kill shelters. They load the dogs in their trailer and take them away to live a better life. All the expenses were originally paid for by Scott and Tracy, but they now work off donations as well as their own reserve.
One anonymous donor provided enough money to rescue 15 dogs from a shelter in Texas to San Diego. Tracy enlists the help of neighbors and friends to foster the dogs after they've first been rescued.
Then, it's time to find them fur-ever homes.
The Adoption Process
Anyone who is interested in adopting a dog from the rescue organization can fill out an application through the website.
Applicants can see photos and videos, and once approved, they will speak with an Adoption Counselor who will match them with the right dog. In fact, 40% of the individuals that apply adopt a dog other than the one they listed on their application. That’s because we aren’t trying to adopt out dogs, we are trying to find the best match between dogs and adopters based on lifestyle, experience, personal preferences, and a host of other criteria. Our re-home rate (when a dog is returned) is 1.2%. We spend a great deal of time making sure our dog is the right fit for an individual or family.
Once the dogs have been placed, they're set for delivery. Every month, Scott loads 60 dogs into their special trailer to deliver them to affiliated PetSmart stores, where their new owners are waiting to bring the pups home. He travels to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Florida.
And once they arrive on location? Well, tears certainly flow.
PetSmart locations in each drop-off city have partnered with Tracy's Dogs to allow a large enough meet-up location. The trailer pulls in, and families are there waiting eagerly to meet their newest addition.
"We've been on the search for a second dog, not finding any success, and we came across Tracy's Dog on PetFinder," Megan Peters said. "And we saw Benny -- soon to be Finn's -- photo and fell in love immediately!"
"We ended up stumbling across Tracy's Dogs and we fell in love with it," said Mary Golden. "It's just amazing what she does."
"They tell me she's very active," one woman said. "So she'll keep me young."
"It's really the best feeling in the world," says Scott. "I might have a poker face, but it's all butterflies riding up here."
If you are interested in helping to save a dog's life, either by adoption or donating, you can click here to visit the website.