Welcome to the ultimate destination for celebrating the unsung heroes of the dog rescue world. At Rescue Spotlight, we're dedicated to highlighting the remarkable journeys of rescue organizations and the incredible individuals behind them.

Whether you seek heartwarming tales of second chances, inspiring stories of rescue missions, or practical insights into the world of dog adoption, you'll find it all here.

Today, we're privileged to interview Gina Benner, one of the devoted people behind Barb's Dog Rescue You can find a direct link to their Instagram here.

Here is their story:

What inspired you to start or become involved with this rescue organization?

Benner: I've been a board member for years; we lost Barb last summer and I'm now the CEO. Our rescue is truly a magical place. We have over 450 dogs currently, our dogs live together, have space to roam and play, and they are precious family members. We work tirelessly to save the dogs of Mexico.

Can you tell us about a particularly memorable rescue mission or adoption story that stands out to you?

Benner: Mila came to us with a brand new litter of puppies. She was used as a "bait dog" in a fighting ring, and once she gave birth, she was dumped. Her body was frail and quite literally ripped to shreds. Luckily, we were able to bring her into the rescue with her newborn pups, but sadly, her babies weren't healthy enough to survive. Mila was petrified of humans (she'd only known cruelty at the hands of people), and on top of that, was clearly mourning the loss of her babies. I visited her every day in her kennel, just sat with her while she cowered in a corner, until eventually I was able to touch her, and she even got to the point where she'd wag her tail when I arrived to see her. A wonderful family followed her story and made the commitment to give her all their love, for the rest of her life. That was almost three years ago. She will never look like other dogs--she has the obvious physical scars of a life of violence and cruelty, but she has become a confident, friendly, loving companion. Her favorite things to do are snuggle with her people and her canine siblings, and go for long walks in her neighborhood in Sedona, AZ.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a rescue organization, and how do you overcome them?

Benner: Our rescue is Sonora, Mexico--getting our dogs over the border to their US adopters is a challenge, but we work with both the Mexican and the US government to make this magic happen. Our resources in Mexico are scarce--we struggle to get specialty food for our dogs who need extra nutrition, and healthy wet food is almost impossible to come by in Mexico. We rely on tourists to our town to bring us the items we need to help us care for our precious furry family members.

How do you select the dogs that your organization takes in, and what criteria do you use for adoption?

Benner: We save dogs from the streets of Puerto Penasco, Mexico and other towns in northern Sonora. Our adopters submit information about their homes (yard, other pets/people/children in the home, info about work schedules and lifestyle, etc) to help us match our dogs with their perfect humans.

In what ways do you work to rehabilitate and socialize dogs before they are adopted?

Benner: Our team of veterinarians, staff, and volunteers work tirelessly to socialize our dogs, teaching them to trust humans. We use our dog park to practice leash training, they learn to play with toys, and frolic.

What role do volunteers play in your organization, and how can people get involved?

Benner: Our volunteers are an instrumental part of our organization. Some come and simply pet dogs, some come and help administer medicine, perform cleaning tasks, run errands for us, and even take dogs on vacation to the beach.

Can you share some success stories of dogs who were once in your care and have now found loving forever homes?

Benner: We have thousands, and many of our stories you'll find on our Facebook page (Barb's Dog Rescue). We post happy adoption stories multiple times each day. Be ready for happy tears!

How does your organization collaborate with other rescues, shelters, or animal welfare organizations?

Benner: Yes--we work with several rescues in AZ. We simply don't have room for all of the dogs we need to save, so we routinely transport our dogs via our USDA permit to rescues who have room to take in our dogs. We fully vet, vaccinate, spay and neuter each of our dogs before sending them to other rescues.

What initiatives or programs does your rescue have in place to promote responsible pet ownership and prevent pet homelessness?

Benner: Being in Mexico creates lots of unique challenges. We are lucky enough to have enormous public support from thousands of supporters that allow us to give the best possible medical care to our dogs. Most dogs come to us injured and ill--whether they need complex surgeries, expensive medical treatment, etc we do it all. But most importantly we spay and neuter, and vaccinate, each dog we receive. We work closely with a local partner and offer free spay/neuter clinics to every dog in Puerto Penasco who have families that may not be able to otherwise afford it.

Looking ahead, what are your organization's goals and aspirations for the future?

Benner: We have acquired two pieces of vacant land next to the rescue. We are transforming one of them into a dog park, a true dog Disneyland--that work is underway now. Our master plan includes an onsite clinic on our other piece of land, with a full-time veterinary staff, X-ray and MRI capabilities, etc. Currently, we transport all of our dogs to a local veterinarian for these services.