Path of Hope Rescue, located in Spokane, WA, helps save pregnant dogs and puppies. They are one of our favorite rescues and staunch supporters of training! In this article, we ask Path of Hope Founder and Director, Caitlin Knight, some questions about Path of Hope and rescue in general. This is the first in our series of ethical rescue spotlights!
Hi Caitlin! Tell us, why did you choose to focus on rescuing pregnant mommas and puppies?
I first started fostering for Spokanimal. My intention was to help with whatever fostering needs they had. My first placement was a mom and 7 puppies, my second placement was more puppies, my third, fourth and every single foster after that was some combination of a pregnant dog, nursing puppies or young puppies.
It wasn’t what I expected, but I fell in love with taking care of puppies. So when I started the Rescue, I knew I had to focus on puppies because I loved it so much. Our dog population is under control in the PNW and I knew I wanted to help a community who was still struggling with basic population issues.
I landed on Houston, pretty randomly, but soon found out how dire their need. Houston’s dog population is so out of control that they have dozens of shelters, all still killing dogs because of space issue. Moms and puppies are often at the top of those euthanasia lists because there are no resources available to raise up this high need population. So in this way, we are able to help two communities at once. Saving moms and puppies from euthanasia or a life on the street and bringing them to the PNW where it is often hard to even find a puppy, let alone rescue one.
Where do most of your dogs come from and why?
My intention in the beginning was to work with any southern state as most all states below the Mason-Dixon Line are still killing dogs. I was connected through a random person to a Rescue in Houston which started the ball rolling. My intention was to expand to any Southern State that needed help, but we have not been able to come close to meeting the need of just Houston dogs.
How do you decide which dogs to rescue and which ones not to?
We never have to search for dogs anymore, I can’t go a single day without being tagged in a 1, 2, 3 or more Facebook posts or people asking us to take this dog or that one or that litter. There will always be more dogs that need help than we are able to take into our program.
Our mission is pregnant dogs, nursing puppies and puppies up to 6 months. Having our mission clearly defined helps to keep our focus and gives us permission to say ‘no’, which is very hard to do sometimes. Even staying in our mission, there are still more than we can help. Sometimes we take in dogs because we know that particular shelter has few resources, or that a dog has a euthanasia deadline coming up, or they have a story that you just can’t say no to.
How many foster families do you have?
We have approximately 50 Foster Families, though many are on a “Puppy Sabbatical” or on a break. We encourage our fosters to take breaks between placements so that they don’t get burned out.
What is your rescue in need of the most?
People. Anyone with a talent, skill or just love to share. Fosters are a constant need and one you’ll hear all Rescues begging for. However, even if you aren’t able to foster, we are growing so quickly that we are struggling to keep up with the work load. We need fundraisers, grant writers, medics, case managers, vet contacts, vaccine schedulers and more.
We have approximately 35 volunteer positions that need to be filled asap.
If you received a $100 donation right now, what would that money be used for?
Transport. Last year we spent $24,000 on transport costs of getting our dogs from Houston to Spokane, with each crate costing between $150-$300. We’ve recently decided that we are ready to launch our own Transport, in the hopes of having more flexibility in getting dogs out of Texas quicker and more of them. We are going to be creating a fundraising campaign to purchase our own transport van very soon!
Are there certain types of puppies that get adopted more quickly than others?
I can tell you the ones that don’t get adopted quickly. Black, high energy, and pitty. And if they hit all three, we call if the “trifecta”, we know we will have that dog in our program a lot longer.
Do you have a wait list for your puppies?
We didn’t used to, but we do now! Which is super exciting but also frustrating because there is no lack of moms and puppies that still need help. It just means we need to grow other parts of the Rescue so we can bring up more dogs and meet the need here in Spokane.
Tell us about one of the dogs you have available right now for adoption!
We just saved two 4 month old female puppies names Chloe and Cassie. In this small city outside of Houston, there is no Animal Control. So if the Sheriff finds a dog, they reach out to local Rescues and if they say no, then the dogs are killed that day.
Chloe and Cassie were born on the streets and have spent their few short months just trying to find enough food to survive. Their mom was feral, attacked a Deputy and was shot dead. These girls were able to be saved. They are rail thin but already showing amazingly sweet personalities and quickly learning what it’s like to loved and cared for.
I am always amazed how resilient dogs are.
When a foster adopts one of your dogs, they have to stop fostering for a year. Why?
If any of our Foster Families adopts a dog, we enforce a “Puppy Sabbatical”, and a one year break from fostering. You get one chance to raise up a puppy. One short year that can impact and influence the rest of that dog’s life. And doing it right takes up a lot of your time, energy and patience.
There are house rules to learn, boundaries, obedience, exercise, socialization, play dates and more! If you are privileged enough to get to meet your best friend when they are just starting their life, then you owe it to him to give him your total and complete focus. Most of our Fosters hate this rule in the beginning, but almost every one comes back to us a few short months later and thanks us!
What are your feelings towards ethical, responsible breeders?
I wish there were more of them. Don’t get me wrong, I love every kind of dog, purebred or mixed, but we don’t need any more mutts. There are so many dying everyday because someone allowed another litter to happen. If we are going to bring more dogs into this world, then let’s make it purposeful.
We need Breeders who truly love their breed enough to protect the gene pool. If you aren’t researching studs and matches, studying health testing, temperament testing, AKC registration and titles, DNA testing and screening, then you have no business breeding.
Do it right or fix your dog. Period.
What keeps you up at night?
There are so many dogs just in Houston that we will never be able to save. It’s one thing to hear that thousands of dogs are being killed every month, but it’s another to have to look at those dogs’ faces. I’ve stopped scrolling my Facebook newsfeed because I get tagged in dog after dog after dog.
And the reality is, we can’t save them all.
But what really keeps me up at night is I don’t know how to stop the cycle. How do we get through to people that dogs are being killed because of our decisions? That letting your dog have ‘just one litter’ just took the homes of a litter I could have saved in Texas.
I feel like we are emptying the ocean with a teaspoon and then someone is running behind me pouring buckets back into the ocean.
Tell us one of your craziest rescue stories.
We make an annual trip to Houston to visit our partner Rescues and Shelters. Last year, we were walking the 5th Ward, one of the most poverty stricken neighborhoods in Houston. Dogs are treated so differently, it’s hard to explain. They are allowed to roam freely with no collars or identification, there are strays everywhere, or dogs are chained to trees or confined in travel kennels in yards. Dogs are rarely seen inside anyone’s home and are viewed as dirty and not worthy of being part of the family.
So when we were block walking this area on our last trip, trying to sign up dogs for free spay/neuter and I turned around to see one of my staff holding a small black puppy, we didn’t think twice about taking him. She said he just ran up to her, sat at her feet and stared at her.
It was like he was asking to be rescued.
Well we glanced around quickly and said, today is your lucky day! She named him Paco and he was smuggled back in my purse in our Uber and then whisked upstairs to her room. We fed him cheerios for dinner and he slept in a bed, safe and loved, for the first time ever. He curled up next to her and didn’t move all night.
He lived in her hotel room shower for a couple days, doing his part by not making a peep and then we flew him home to Spokane, the best souvenir we ever had from our Houston trip.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I’m proud of our region. Most every dog owner in the PNW loves their dog and does right by it. We have our population under control and we don’t have to kill dogs anymore because of time or space issues.
If you didn’t know this, we are unique. Most parts of the country do not enjoy these luxuries and are still drowning in dogs. If our mission resonates with you, then join our efforts. There are so many ways to get involved, you truly can make a difference!
Caitlin, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to share this information with us. You guys are doing amazing work! If you’d like to contact Path of Hope Rescue or see their adoptable dogs, go to their website at https://pathofhoperescue.com. You can also find Path of Hope on Facebook at pathofhoperescue. They post lots of fun updates and videos. You can also donate to their fundraisers via Facebook! Like them, follow them and help us support their cause!