loving homes for hounds
Eden Prairie consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in America. With its excellent public schools, residential neighborhoods and thousands of acres of land for parks and open spaces, Eden Prairie offers residents a high quality of life. But is it a good place to be a pet?
Rachel Mairose, Founder and Executive Director of Secondhand Hounds, a nonprofit animal rescue that saves dogs and cats in high-kill shelters or who have been given up by their owners, thinks Eden Prairie is a great place for pets and their humans.
“I love Eden Prairie! I live here” said Mairose “I get really excited when one of our animals is adopted by someone in Eden Prairie because I have an idea of what kind of life it will have.” Mairose says that Eden Prairie is a dog-friendly community with people who tend to like the outdoors – exploring hiking trails, walking in the parks or romping with their four-legged companions at one of six off-leash exercise areas. “Pets really take part in the lives of people who live here,” said Mairose. “It’s a testament to what kind of community we live in.”
Helping animals in need seems to be instinctive for Mairose. Fostering and volunteering from a young age, she “always wanted to be with animals.” With a degree in environmental science from Washington University in St. Louis, Mairose planned to go to law school. Instead, her life took a different direction.
“I was already involved with trying to help rescues,” she explains. Taking desperate pets into her home while trying to find people to adopt them, “I knew that was what I really wanted to do.”
Mairose also had an innovative idea about how she could have the biggest impact for the animals that need it most. Make her inspiration sustainable by creating a nonprofit based on a business model. “I’d never taken a business class,” said Mairose,” but I knew it made sense.”
In 2009, seven months pregnant with her first child, a houseful of rescued dogs, and an ingenious plan, Secondhand Hounds was born. “I literally was in labor while texting volunteers about rescues,” Mairose laughed and shook her head in disbelief.
It’s that tireless commitment to the animals that drives the mission and success of Secondhand Hounds. In just 10 years, Secondhand Hounds has found homes for over 17,500 dogs and cats.
With an operating budget of $2,000,000, and an extensive network of dedicated volunteers, Secondhand Hounds continues to grow and expand. It’s programs include hospice foster care, low cost spay and neuter clinics in White Earth reservation, medical care for rescues that require surgery due to abuse and accidents, international rescue efforts, visits to assisted living facilities and most recently, a youth program to develop future leaders in animal rescue.
The ability to help more animals also means finding more homes. At any one time, an average of 400 rescues are waiting to be adopted through Secondhand Hounds. Mairose is positive a home is out there for each pet. The key is matching the rescue with the right home.
“The best habitat reflects what the pet needs” explained Mairose. She emphasized that it isn’t about the biggest house or a fenced in yard, it’s about finding a home that has the best chance of a successful adoption.“We start with a loving home and go from there.”
Mairose talked about a dog that recently came to Second Hand Hounds. The rescue had an eye infection so severe its eyes had to be removed. “He’s blind, so one of the things we are looking for is a home with one story – no stairs to fall down,” explained Mairose. “Taz is so sweet. It looks like he’s sleeping because his eyelids are closed.”
Mairose stressed that readers of Eden Prairie Lifestyle can help Second Hand Hound rescues by sharing the nonprofit’s information on social media. Increasing the audience increases the chances of matching a person to a pet. “Even if you can’t foster or adopt, you can really help by spreading the word about our rescues.”
Interested in adopting? Mairose asks that you consider a dog or cat that has been overlooked. “If you really want to affect change,” said Mairose “then adopt a rescue that has been waiting a long time for a forever home.”
Mairose nodded, looking up at the photos of rescues covering the office walls, hope and determination in her eyes. “There is a person for every dog.”