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Big Dog Rescue

Happy hounds in the Austin, TX area!

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White Great Dane "Claire" doing much better after 86 days of being treated by Big Dog Rescue foster mother April Albin. Photo taken by April Albin.

Imagine encountering a dog with its rib cage jutting out from hunger, looking pitiful, and when you walk up to pet it, your touch causes its skin to flake off and bleed.

Claire is a survivor.

A female Great Dane came into rescue on November 11, moments away from death. The past four years of her life had been full of neglect and abuse.

The mangled animal has a severe case of demodectic mange (an infestation of mites), is deaf, has heartworms, a yeast infection, ear and eye infections, had recently been bred and to top it off was starving to death.

“Claire”, the abused Great Dane, now plays and is as lively as any pup. At five years old, it seems her life has finally begun.

White Great Dane "Claire" when she was first taken in after being rescued from extensive abuse. Photo taken by foster mother April Albin.“She looked even worse in person, the smell coming off of her was almost indescribable,” said April Albin about her initial encounter with Claire.

April Albin, Claire’s foster mother and a member of the Big Dog Rescue team, was asked to take on her case because she had experience working with special needs dogs, and dogs that need medical attention.

Albin immediately said yes after receiving a call about a Great Dane with extreme medical attention, but was in total shock after seeing a picture of her. Soon after, she met the damaged dog in person.

“You could tell she wanted to live,” said Albin.

Claire was taken in by Big Dog Rescue, a dog rescue team that fosters big hearted hounds in the Austin area.

BDR prefers not to be called a “shelter”.

“All of our dogs are family members and need to live in the home,” said President of Big Dog Rescue, Inc., Julie Johnson. The dogs are taken on a case by case basis, and they are almost always full to capacity.

“We rescued 200 dogs in the last year and there is no sign of slowing down,” said Johnson.

According to Vice President of Big Dog Rescue, Sarah Tirone, the rescue group continues to push forward on making the District Attorney decide on the punishment for Claire’s abuse.

“Claire is a miracle dog, she really is,” said Albin. Claire’s foster mother explains that Claire was so emaciated upon coming into rescue that the dog could only stand for a couple minutes at a time. She was also riddled with multiple infections, and tested heartworm positive. “Any of those things alone could have killed her, but she fought and she fought hard.”

There is no national database that records the number of abused dog in the U.S. each year. However, the National Human Society estimates as many as 75 million abuse cases each year. This works out to roughly 85% of all domesticated dogs suffering some form of abuse, whether that’s food deprivation, physical abuse, or breeding abuse.

BDR as well The Human Society of The United States emphasizes the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Equally as vital is “keeping a dog current on their vaccinations and on heartworm prevention, and not leaving a dog unattended in the backyard while the family goes off to work,” according to BDR president Julie Johnson.

“After everything she has been through, everything she has had to endure to get healthy, she holds no grudges,” continued Albin. Claire is still happy to meet new people, and lives with as much fervor as any pampered pup.

“To her life is great because she is alive.”

Big Dog Rescue urges anyone and everyone who knows of an animal enduring some sort of neglect or violence to contact authorities. Their names can be kept confidential if they would like.

See Claire’s first 100 days with Big Dog Rescue in pictures on Facebook here!

To donate to Claire’s cause and help pay for through the roof medical bills, please click here.

For information on adopting Claire.

Story written by Texas State University mass communications writer Alexandra Perez

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About Big Dog Rescue



Big Dog Rescue Inc., is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Charitable Organization founded in March 2009. Big Dog Rescue is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming unwanted dogs of all sizes that have been abandoned or neglected. In 2011, Big Dog Rescue, Inc. expanded from primarily English Mastiffs to an all dog breed rescue.

Our mission for each dog is to provide:

-  A loving foster home

-  Quality food

-  Medical attention

-  Behavioral training

Big Dog Rescue, Inc. promotes the spaying and neutering of animals, advocates for the animals in need, and is against euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals.

How We Got Started – A Short Story from Julie Johnson

Just a short twelve years ago, Julie Johnson began volunteering at the local shelter in Kyle. It was heartbreaking to her to see the puppies cooped up day after day; so volunteering to walk the dogs was the least she could do to help.
Unfortunately, the shelter always needed to make room for new dogs by euthanizing the existing dogs. She began trying to make a difference by fostering a few dogs so they wouldn’t have to die. Her first foster dog was being treated for heartworms and was also pregnant with puppies. Not only did the mommy survive the treatment, but all 10 puppies were born alive & healthy.
Julie and her husband started building “puppy pens” here at my ranch for dogs she had hoped to save, but of course, they never stayed in the pens because she wanted to socialize them in the house with the family. One evening, she got a call from a local vet clinic who said they had a young English Mastiff that was too big for kennel space and would therefore, be euthanized. The nurse begged Julie to take the dog for the weekend. She thought, “I can do this for two days…no big deal.”
After the weekend, there was no way she could let the dog go. She fell in love and life for her would never be the same.
From that moment on, she actively started looking for English Mastiffs that needed to be rescued. Often times Mastiffs are acquired without really understanding that they will grow to be over two hundred pounds, and they end up abandoned or surrendered to shelters.
As their numbers rose to 18 dogs on site she realized they were going to have to expand their buildings and play areas. Her husband gave her his complete support and made legal arrangements for her wish to save even more dogs, become a reality. They became a charitable 501(c) (3) non-profit organization at that point, and since then they have continued to expand at a remarkable rate.
Two years ago, she crossed paths with a woman in Manor, Texas who was trying to trap an English Mastiff that had been abandoned & living in a field behind her neighborhood. She wanted to help her catch the dog and between the two of them they managed to finally trap her and name her “Sweetie.” Unfortunately, Sweetie was completely overcome with heart worms and ultimately died from the treatment. At least she knew she was loved and safe when she passed away.
The wonderful thing that came from Julie meeting someone over a dog is that the woman she met turned out to be Sarah Tirone. Sarah had been rescuing Pit Bulls in Manor for years and was considered by many, the local Animal Control Officer! Her lifelong dream was to run a dog rescue operation and Julie happened to already have one in place. They joined forces, and since that time they have saved well over 200 dogs with the help of several dedicated volunteer foster families.
“My favorite part about animal rescue is actually working with the dogs. Sarah, on the other hand, is one of those amazing people who can do it all.” Julie said. She is not one to ever get discouraged and you will never hear her complain. We are extremely lucky to have this generous and talented woman as the vice president of Big Dog Rescue.”