From No Place to Odie’s Place

On a sunny afternoon in early June, Kerrie and Brian Harrington are headed to court. Not for an offense, but to help unveil portraits of nine dogs they have helped save through their rescue, Odie’s Place. In addition to students’ artwork, Odie’s Place alumnae now adorn the halls of their local Probate and Family Court, a shining example of how two people really can make a difference.

To say Kerrie and Brian are dedicated and passionate would be an understatement. The husband and wife team have made rescuing dogs their life’s work after losing their beloved dog, Otis, who they nicknamed Odie.

Odie, his humans have honored him by saving others

“We experienced so much love and fulfillment with Odie and of course all our furbabies, that we want any animal we come across to have a high quality of life and to enrich their human’s life as well,” said Kerrie. “When Brian and I had enough hands-on experience from a local shelter, we felt we were ready to do it our own way.” Since its inception in 2014, the no-kill shelter has saved 60 dogs, finding forever homes for dogs who literally have no other place to go. Based in Southcoast, Massachusetts, the rescue has yet to secure a physical building, so they rely on a network of fosters until they find the right home – and they do find the right home. They have a sixth sense for finding a compatible match, zeroing in on personality and habits to assure the best fit for both owner and pup.

One of the ways they reach potential adopters is through adorable, compelling and informative posts and videos on social media. They’ve drummed over 9,000 ‘likes’ on the rescue’s Facebook page, a robust YouTube channel, even a presence on radio and local television. It’s also a great way for Odie’s Place to keep up with the dogs they’ve placed. “The most fulfilling thing is seeing an unwanted dog thriving in his or her forever home,” said Kerrie. “Seeing a dog who came to us matted, with tumors, never knowing love and being in their new home clean, fed, loved, spoiled makes us giddy! All the hard work from everyone –us, our veterinarians, fosters, adopters, volunteers, trainers, donors, supporters – has paid off.”

And it does take a village. One of the dogs currently available for adoption is Chloe, an 8-year-old Yorkie. She was rescued by Odie’s Place after beating cancer, but while waiting for her forever home, her foster mother discovered another tumor.

Chole, who can resist that face?

“Chloe just underwent tumor removal surgery by our incredible veterinarian’s office and the biopsy result is clean,” said Brian. Now cancer free, Chloe is on the road to finding her forever home. “This is Chloe’s third chance at life!” said Brian. “We are looking forward to her getting adopted, spoiled and treated like a baby.”

Of course there are challenges, the most obvious being that it’s impossible to save every cat and dog. Lack of funding, physical location and fosters prevents them from saving more innocent lives. “The pit bull breeds have the highest kill rates in shelters, so naturally we would like to save more of them,” said Kerrie. Plus, some landlords and home insurances discriminate against certain breeds, like Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Akitas and Rottweilers, which prevent them from being placed in a loving home.

She also points out the number-one mistake people make with their dogs is to give up on them. “We live in a society where disposing dogs is acceptable. When you combine knowledge, hope and love you can teach your dog what they are supposed to do.”

“The most surprising thing to both Brian and me is the ignorance or lack of empathy of humans in regards to cats and dogs in facilities,” she said. “Thousands of cats and dogs are killed in our country everyday. Yet, there are people who still go to a breeder instead of adopting. When you adopt you are saving lives!”

If you want to learn more about Odie’s Place, become a foster or donate to help with adoption costs and medical bills (like Chloe’s surgery), please visit www.odiesplace.org.

Maria Poulos Pimentel is a New Jersey transplant now settled in New England. Maria works in marketing and publicity by day and snuggles with her sweet collie/shepherd/husky Tessie by night. She was a reluctant dog owner at first, but she’s quickly learning the ropes and discovering all the joys of doggie parenting. Maria will be sharing more of her adventures in dog love with PawsGo.

Tessie was adopted through Odie’s Place, a small privately run animal rescue program in Massachusetts.

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