We’ve been without a pet for several years since losing our Old English sheepdog. There’s a void without his endearing ways, so we’re considering getting another dog.
Our son, Zach, adopted a dog from a rescue organization in King County. He’d chosen a certain dog he’d seen online, but a different dog, a female black lab mix, carefully approached him and hopped onto his lap. It was love at first sight, and he named her Ellie.
Later, Zach moved home while searching for a professional job, and Ellie moved in, too. She won us over with her youthful energy and sweet demeanor, and convinced us that rescue dogs can be lovely. When Zach moved away to his new job, naturally he took Ellie with him. Their absence has heightened our desire for a pet.
My friend Kathy told me about a nonprofit dog rescue organization in Gig Harbor. Her neighbor, Karen Nickell, is a committed volunteer for CHEW. CHEW stands for Canine Health Education and Welfare and was formed in 2006 to help bring an off-leash dog park to Gig Harbor. Our dog loved the off-leash area at the Tacoma Narrows Airport, so I applaud those who took steps to create a place where dogs can safely run free.
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After seven years, in tandem with Pen Met Parks, CHEW created Rotary Bark Park, which is located across from the fire station on Bujacich Road. The CHEW organization shifted its focus from advocating for the park to dog rescue. As Sherette Main, CHEW’s president told me, “Our hearts were always in rescue.”
CHEW considered at the outset what kind of dog rescue would be best, and decided on foster rescue. That way the nonprofit can get to know the dog and its needs and ready it for adoption. A typical length of time a dog will stay in foster care is between three to 10 weeks.
Foster homes are essential to the program. The more foster homes CHEW has, the more dogs it can rescue. CHEW covers any veterinary bills, and in some cases, grooming costs. The rescue dogs come from western Washington and from a friend of Sherette’s in California, Patty, who rescues dogs from “high kill” shelters. Over the last three years they have successfully rescued nearly 300 dogs. That is a tremendous achievement.
Those interested in adopting go through a thorough application process to make sure they can provide a good home. Applicants meet the dog and his/her foster parents, which makes for a smooth transition.
CHEW hosts five outreach events a month at several locations: Sophie’s Touch, Green Cottage, Mud Bay, Petco and Cookies Pet Corner & Wash.
CHEW is always looking for volunteers to help with outreach events, dog walking and transportation. The nonprofit’s income is primarily from adoption fees, individual donations, small fundraisers and grants. In addition to those groups that sponsor outreach events, CHEW has wonderful support from several local businesses that donate food, items and services for these dear animals. The animals’ veterinary needs are met with reduced fees at Harbor Animal Hospital, Evergreen Animal Hospital and Gig Harbor Veterinary Clinic.
I was truly impressed with the love and passion for canine care that Sherette Main expressed during our conversation. I’m also in awe of the many people who help in this all-volunteer organization to give these critters a second shot at life. To become a foster home (the biggest need right now), or to request a home for a dog, call Main at 253-265-6235.
You can learn more about CHEW by visiting www.chewdogrescue.org or attending an outreach event. They are also on Facebook.