Pet owners in underserved communities have been let down before and are understandably suspicious of organizations offering help. To earn their trust when you do community outreach, you’ll need to listen respectfully, avoid snap judgments and follow through on your (realistic) promises.
It started with a run-of-the-mill barking complaint. But when officers with Habersham County (Georgia) Department of Animal Care & Control arrived at the property in April 2017, they discovered one of the state’s largest puppy mill operations.
More than 350 animals were living on the property, and not just dogs. There were cats, donkeys, pigs, chickens, ducks, doves, an alpaca and a horse, all in deplorable conditions. Many of the dogs were confined to plastic tubs and under wire mesh, surrounded by mud and feces.
“I’ve been rescuing animals my whole life,” says Heidi Leland. When she and her husband decided in April 2016 to relocate to South Korea for his job, Leland knew she wanted to help rescue animals from the country’s dog meat trade.