by Molly Box
Almost six years ago, I was leaving a business in Cheyenne when I walked past the newly-leased Black Dog Animal Rescue office. I was curious seeing an animal rescue in town…My sister had just adopted some dogs from a rescue in Des Moines, IA, and it was the first time I had even heard the term "rescue." I ended up submitting an application and went to Volunteer Orientation.
It is hard to even express the impact I have seen BDAR (and by BDAR, I mean the organization itself, but equally Britney Wallesch) make in these last six years. For myself personally, I went from being a fairly normal person who liked animals to a "dog-pusher" (a term coined by my dad, due to my tendency to try to match people I know with adoptable animals), who can talk about pit bulls (I love them!) and rescue stats for hours on end. I realized a passion I never knew that I had...to help save homeless animals and educate people about their plight. Sometimes I’m taken aback when I realized how much I have learned by contributing as a volunteer, Volunteer Coordinator, Foster Home Coordinator, and foster home. Friends call me for advice when they need help training their dogs, and I often actually know how to help them. My daughter isn’t even fazed when I pick her up from pre-school announcing that we have a new dog/kittens/puppies in the back of the car. BDAR is also full of some of the most empathetic, passionate, intelligent people I have ever met…I can easily say I have made some friends that I will have forever.
BDAR helped me professionally, too. My career has grown alongside the organization, as well as my role in it. I started by doing flyers as a volunteer, and I designed the BDAR logo as one of my first freelance design projects. I was given many opportunities to help shape the look and brand, for which I will forever be grateful. It is (and always will be) some of my proudest and most personal work. I was also fortunate enough to be chosen to attend the Best Friends Conference, where I was immersed in the world of animal rescue (even though I had a rough time eating nothing but vegetarian catering for a week), and I learned as much as I could about marketing such a revolutionary and unfamiliar idea.
Most importantly, though, I have also witnessed the impact BDAR has had on the state of Wyoming. Sometimes progress seems slow or backwards, and it can be discouraging. But, when I look back over the last few years, I can plainly see the enormous positive growth. When I first started, it was a cause celebre to even have one dog adopted from the program. We couldn’t afford staff. We didn't even have the resources to rescue cats. People here had no idea what a “rescue dog” was. Now, in the beginning of 2018, the name Black Dog Animal Rescue is well-known, and has a positive connotation. We are rescuing hundreds of animals every year that would have otherwise perished in a shelter. We are providing affordable food and vet care. We are educating the public to spay and neuter their pets, and to make a conscious decision about where their pet comes from. In short, a significant number of lives are being saved, and Wyoming people are becoming aware. All the things we talked about happening "one day" are now becoming reality. And I only see us continuing to move in an upward direction.
It really is hard for me to sum up what BDAR means to me…It has become an every day part of my life. I want to sincerely thank the organization for fighting the good fight everyday, even when it is hard or discouraging or seems never-ending. BDAR has changed and grown, but never stops trying to be the best it can be every single day (which is not as easy as it sounds).
Thank you for letting me be a part of it.