Saturday, August 15, 2020
Stacy Burton, her husband Mike and their three kids, Brady, Teagan, and Sophia along with their three adopted rescue dogs, Oscar, Slick, and Bobo. Burton cares for and fosters dogs as part of the non-profit program Rejection Collection Boxer Rescue.

Rescuing the rejected

Owatonna woman starts dog rescue program

Stacy Burton has been fostering dogs for six years.

“I was at home with my kids and I thought that I should do something,” she said. “I love dogs, and I thought why don’t I foster dogs.”

She went on to say, “It was something I wanted to do with my time when I was at home.” Burton and her family help foster dogs, rehabilitating them and preparing them to find a good home.

Burton and four other women founded Rejection Collection Boxer Rescue with the purpose of helping dogs, specifically boxers, find new homes. “We have all been in the rescue world for some time and thought that there was a need for this niche,” she said.

“We are a foster-based non-profit and all of our dogs are placed in homes,” Burton explained. “We are solely volunteers.” The program brings in boxers from around the country and helps them reintegrate into a new home with a new family.

Many of these dogs come from puppy mills in the south. “Some of these puppy mill breeder dogs have never set foot on grass,” Burton said. “Sometimes it can take a couple of months before the dog will come to you, and when they come to you and lick you it’s amazing.”

Puppy mills are large breeder facilities aimed at selling puppies for a profit. The animals within these facilities experience deplorable conditions and often lack necessary food, water, and veterinary care.

“I had no idea about just how bad this was until I got involved and learned more,” Burton said while explaining that it can be difficult to see dogs emotionally and physically damaged from their experiences. “It’s very hard to see, and you wonder just what this dog has been through.”

The program’s first dog, Diamond, was transferred to a foster family in River Falls, Wis. This family is one of five, including Burton’s, which help to care for the animals before they find a permanent home.

“It’s a family affair, and it’s amazing for our kids,” Burton said of her experience fostering dogs. “It’s awesome to watch these animals grow and learn to trust. A lot of these animals come from having no human interaction.”

Her new program, Rejection Collection, will specialize in senior dogs and those with special needs. “When a shelter gets full —especially down south— they euthanize dogs, and senior dogs and those with special needs are the first to go,” Burton explained.

While her program specifically focuses on boxers, Burton said that there are programs like this one for any breed. “There are so many dogs that need homes and there are so many breed specific rescues that you can find any breed,” she said.

“Our family lives and breathes rescue,” Burton said of her family’s commitment. “The life lessons we have learned from rescuing and fostering is invaluable, and I’m so glad that my kids have had this hands-on experience. The amount of compassion and patience it has taught us is huge.”

Still, it is always hard to see the dogs go, even if it’s to their new home. “It is extremely hard, it doesn’t get any easier letting them go but it gets easier hiding it,” Burton said. “But you know this is what is best for them.”

In her six years fostering dogs, Burton and her family foster failed only once. Failing to find a new home for the dog, Burton adopted it as their own pet after seeing the close bond it shared with her son. “The bond they have is remarkable,” she said.

Those who adopt the dogs have to fill out an application form and do a home visit to ensure that the animal will have the proper environment. “Every dog comes with special needs, some require a fenced-in backyard, some are fine living in an apartment,” Burton explained. “Each situation is different.”

With this new program underway, Burton and her fellow founders will be able to continue the work they are so passionate about, and in the process will be helping save the lives of dogs from across the country by giving them help, care, and hope.


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