The Rescue Community is filled with amazing men and women who devote their time, energy and money to help save homeless animals from the pain and suffering of being unwanted, uncared for, abused or destroyed.
Thousands of animals are saved every year -- thanks to these RESCUE ROCK STARS.
In the upcoming weeks, I’d like to share some of these amazing people with you. Give you a chance to meet the men and women who make rescue work.
Introducing Jen Wold, the director of Gemini Rottweiler and Pitbull Rescue in Madison, MN
Jen is one of the rescue rock stars who started changing the world 17 years ago, and is still going strong today. We chatted a few days ago and one of the first questions I asked her was, “Why did you get into rescue?”
My start was a bit “accidental,” I guess. Maybe there was some destiny at play to get the ball rolling. After my beloved Rottweiler, Riggs, passed away unexpectedly in 1999 my husband and I were going to start looking for a breeder to get a puppy. In my search, I actually met an amazing breeder in Montana who also did rescue. This intrigued me, as I had always been the girl saving animals my entire life. We became friends and passion in helping homeless Rottweilers grew as my eyes were opened to the number of these dogs needing help.
The breeder/rescuer in Montana was a great mentor and I learned a lot from her. I knew I needed to start my own rescue, so I reached out to a few established breed specific groups, not only in Minnesota, but across the country. I was met with
open arms and a wealth of knowledge from these people. They were willing to share experiences, what works, what doesn’t, what policies they had, and what was ethical practice.
Rescue was a fairly new concept back then, wasn't it?
When Gemini officially launched in 2000, we were only one of a handful of groups in Minnesota. I had started as a breed specific Rottweiler rescue, but in 2001, that all changed. I was sitting at my computer late one night and I had an email from one of my Rottie groups come across. It was a photo and plea for help for a beautiful young Pitbull named Petey in Maryland.
"Something about her hit me. I had never truly met a Pitbull and I had heard all the media hype about them. Yet, I was drawn to help this dog. I cannot explain it."
Over the course of 3 months, the adoption was complete and Petey became part of my family. I took a chance on a little tan and white Pitbull that changed the entire course of my life. I lost her in 2015, at the age of 15. One little dog changed my mind, and since then, she helped me save the lives of over 2000 Pitbulls, along with hundreds of other dogs. Each day, we step up to fight the stereotype and help educate the public on the truth about bully breeds. I know it can be done because it only took that ONE amazing dog to change my heart for the better.
What makes Gemini Rottweiler and Pitbull Rescue so successful?
I’m extremely hands on where Gemini is concerned. Chances are, if you have any dealings with Gemini, you are going to get me directly. We have a few great volunteers who may foster or transport, but I like to stay very involved in intake and adoption.
"Every dog that comes through this rescue
becomes a part of us, and I have a vested interest
in that dog for the rest of its life."
Gemini has a phenomenal success rate and I believe that’s because there are not multiple volunteers handling all different aspects of the adoption process. All email and phone inquiries come to me, I review all applications and I will do the home visit and final adoption. I get to know adoptive families fairly well before that contract is signed.
Some people wonder how I do this, how I handle everything. But it's just what I’ve been doing from the start. It’s a labor of love. It’s been my blood, sweat and tears….literally. Gemini Rescue has always been run from our farm, which is sanctuary to a number of horses and farm animals as well. I’m not a stranger to hard work, as I grew up on a farm. It just comes naturally. I do have a few great people who foster and transport animals for us. And our supporters are amazing. I think we have some of the best supporters out there, in all meanings of the word. I do have a fabulous village of people who surround me, and that is incredibly important. Especially so for a girl who tries so hard to make this a positive personal experience for potential adopters, and to make sure that once we choose a dog’s forever, that it is truly forever.
You were featured in your hometown newspaper a few years ago. Tell me about it.
Our local newspaper did a story on me back in 2001. I look back at this article and I can see how much I would have to learn. Rescue has not been easy. In fact, it's been a very hard road that has brought me to my knees more times than I can remember.
“There is nothing easy about facing the truth about the unwanted animal population, dealing with ignorance, and ultimately losing the lives you are fighting so hard to save. It's a daily battle with the devil.”
You rely on the good people of the world. Those who are fighting the fight with you. You keep those people close to remind you of the good when all you seem to encounter is bad. You stumble, you reach out, you cry, and then you gather yourself to do it another day. And pretty soon.... it's 20 years later.