In Los Angeles County alone, 10,000 dogs a month are put down. Many are healthy pure breed, but they have no homes to go to and no one to love them.
Melissa Becelar has held the dream for nine years. Ever since she moved out to Los Angeles with her two pups in tow, she realized that dogs were her lifeline. "When I moved to my new apartment, my neighbor couldn't keep her dog and I took him in. It was then I started fostering dogs." Melissa started working with a rescue group and soon found out how many wonderful animals were euthanized for no reason at all. With her partner, Rachel Kennedy, one of the foster parents, Melissa she opened her non profit foundation, The Poopie Foundation three years ago. "We both had the same dream. A store where the dogs were not puppy mills and amazing things for the people who adopted our dogs. "
So, opening on December 8th in Studio City will be a unique upscale store for rescue dogs with the goal of helping them find forever homes. They'll deal with all breeds and mixes. "The mixes are often healthier because they don’t have the problems that the pure breeds do, but many people still want pure breeds and better they get them from us than from a puppy mill where the guarantee of the health of the animal is in question. In fact 40% of the animals in the shelters are pure breeds. " Lois says that "The smaller and medium dogs, like the maltase and shiatsu or cocker spaniels, are often easier to adopt out and the store will have plenty of them, but I prefer the bigger breeds. Dogs, especially the pit bull, has gotten a bad rap, but they're very sweet and loyal when trained properly." She cited the incidence of the young girl, almost kidnapped, if not for the protection of her pit bull.
The store features all organic, raw and grain free foods and treats as well as high end home made collars and harnesses. Herbs, too, are popular here. Having done rescue for so many years, Lois and her partner found homeopathic ways to help the animals, especially with small things like skin infections. "When you rescue 150 dogs a month, you have to learn how to cut corners and when to see a vet and when not."
It's important when you rescue a dog to find out everything you can about it. "So we make it our business to find out all the shelter can tell us. All dogs are individuals. They have quirks just like we do. They might have experienced trauma in their lives and reacted badly to some event. Sometimes that trauma can be healed with a loving family, sometimes not. Dogs have different needs and demands. They become different when they go to different homes. It's an adjustment period for them, as well as the owner, when the dog goes from living in a pack at a rescue to being a one person dog. I try to be really honest with people about the animals and we try to match the right dog with the right people." She cited one family who desperately wanted a Yorkshire Terrier, but when she found one at the shelter, she also learned that he nipped. "For an adult family, it wouldn't have been so bad, but for a family with small kids…well, I had to tell them that this dog was not for them."
She advises people to research the various breeds and see which one might fit them best for their lifestyle. You never know about the dog really until he's living with you and it is (or should be) a lifetime commitment.
When matching dogs and owners, Melissa looks at everyone in the household. "It's important to make sure that everyone is really ready for a dog. We can't have a parent come in and say I'm getting this dog for my kid, and have the kid get bored, ignore the dog and the mother, who takes on the responsibility, end up resenting the animal. We also look at the lifestyle of the potential owners. Are they home a lot? Do they have space in their house or apartment? If so, than a puppy is okay, but if they're away a lot, or have a dog that needs an active lifestyle, they'll come home to a torn up house and be angry with the dog. The puppies are like babies and need a lot of time and attention. The dogs have the same emotions as us, but they just express them differently. " She insists not only on an application, but a home check, as well. "You won't just come into the store and say I want that one and walk out." All the dogs who come home from the store will be spayed and neutered as well as up to date on shots.
Funding for the store mostly comes from donations and from her foundation. "We've had the help of some great people. Gary Goodman has been one of our biggest sponsors as had Carlos Bacelar, who has done a lot of the woodwork and cages for the dogs.
Join us for the red carpet opening December 8th, 2012, at 12238 Ventura Blvd in Studio City from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm and be prepared to have your hearts melted. Phone them at 818 370 5516 for more information.