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 Cassidy Peterson, one of the devoted people behind Canine Cupids 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?

Peterson: I already had experience with a couple of other local rescues and I just really liked how Canine Cupids operated. They are a group of passionate volunteers who are very dedicated to the mission of helping local homeless dogs find furever homes. The support they offer foster homes is unparalleled and they will do anything for the foster dogs in their care. Not to mention, I have a soft spot for medical cases, and so do they!

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

Peterson: Canine Cupids has been around for about 11 years, but I have only been with them for about four. The most memorable story for me in those four years is, the story of Martha and Coco. Martha and Coco were turned over to animal control when their owner went into hospice care. They were not really considered a bonded pair, so they went into separate foster homes with us. Both had been a bit neglected and needed some TLC. Coco had it a bit easier. She went on to find her furever home with a long-time supporter and now has another chi sibling. However, Martha had unregulated diabetes and we knew her case would be a harder one. She went to a veteran foster home and after many vet visits, they were able to get her diabetes under control. But more problems kept popping up and she became a hospice foster. She was with us for a few months, but while she was she had dog, cat, and human siblings, plus the absolute best foster parents to love and spoil her. We don't know what her first 14 years were like, but we do know she knew love with us.

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

Peterson: Well funding is the obvious one. Adoption fees don't come close to covering the cost of care for the majority of our dogs, but we'll still hear complaints about how those fees are too high. Outside of funding, it's finding dedicated foster homes and volunteers. It's hard to ask folks to give up such a large part of their lives without something more in it for them. We don't have the budget for paid staff, so we rely fully on our volunteers. If we don't have folks willing to do an event, we just can't do the event. If we don't have a foster home open to take in a dog, we can't help that dog. That being said, we do have some REALLY amazing volunteers and foster homes. So I don't want that to be overlooked. We just could always use more.

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

Peterson: Most of our dogs come from local area animal controls, with the occasional owner surrender intake. We do not have a physical shelter location, so we can only take in a dog when we have an open and willing foster home. A lot of the time, it is dependent on the wants and needs of the open foster homes. For a number of reasons, foster homes may have specific needs like the size of the dog, gender, energy-level, etc. If a foster family is ready for another dog, they will often look at the different shelters we work with to find a dog that they think will work. Besides that, we will get specific requests from the shelters that we work with to take in a dog that has more medical needs or is just not doing well in the shelter. When that happens, we will send out a call to all foster homes to see if anyone can help out. The foster homes will evaluate the needs of the dog and if they think they can handle those needs. However, we know that there really aren't any guarantees about a dog's temperament or behavior based on how they are at the shelter, so it can be tricky to navigate with some foster homes that may need "easier" dogs.

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

Peterson: Once a dog is placed with a foster home, they are not alone. They are assigned a foster coordinator that is there to help them with any questions along the way and connect them to resources. As the dog decompresses, the foster homes will get to see them come out of their shells and determine what some of their needs might be. If they are very social, they might start setting up play dates with other social dogs. If they are begin to show some behavioral issues that are outside the skillset of the foster, we will bring in a trainer. If they are confident enough to handle public outings, we set up meet ups with other volunteers and foster or events that they can bring their dog to get them more exposure. If they are shy, fosters will invite volunteers to come over to their home to help socialize them and learn that people aren't so bad. We also don't shy away from medical cases that may need surgery or other extended care. Those dogs will also receive any rehabilitation services that they need - like physical therapy, aqua therapy, etc. To be honest, it's hard to list everything because each dog has unique and individual needs. We always try to cater to those as best we can. We rely on the foster homes to observe and carry through on any behavioral/medical plans that we make, but we have other foster homes and volunteers that are always willing to jump in and help support a foster home too.

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

Peterson: Volunteers are EVERYTHING. We do not have paid staff. We are a fully volunteer-run organization. We can only be at outreach and fundraising events if we have volunteers willing to go. We can only take a dog into rescue if we have an open foster home willing and able to take them in. The ways that someone can get involved are endless. They can foster dogs - or even just provide vacation or respite care for shorter periods of time. If they want to help from home - we can always use more help with social media, graphic design, bio writing, online fundraising, reaching out to local businesses, etc. If they want to be hands-on with dogs, but can't foster - they can walk dogs, transport dogs to their vet appointments, help with socialization, take a dog to an event, etc. If they are doers - they can volunteer at events, bake or make other items to sell as fundraisers, contribute raffle baskets, help support fosters as a foster coordinator, etc. If they have an idea of something that can we could be doing, but are not and they are willing to implement it - then they can do it!

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

Peterson: Opal - In rescue for just a few days shy of one year! She was an 11 year old gal that had a really rough go of life. Once she came into rescue we learned she had far more medical and behavioral concerns than we initially thought. She had four surgeries with us - FHO, ear hematoma, splenectomy, and teeth removal. She also had severe separation anxiety. She had ongoing medical care that she was going to need for her joints and tummy issues. But she found the absolute perfect home with a mom that works from home and has no other pets. She gets to be the center of attention, which she deserves!

Dolly - Dolly is as sweet as she is cute. She was adopted out to a family that had kiddos that were too much for her and ended up coming back to us. When that happened she ended up needing to go into a different foster home than she was initially with. This turned out to be the best thing for her, because it's where she decided she needed to be and the foster adopted her. She gets to go to work with her mom and is living her best life!

Marshmallow (now Bosley) - Marshmallow was a sweet four-month old puppy that we pulled from animal control. We have no idea why, but he spent too many months with us as a puppy, in our opinion! Turns out he was just waiting for the perfect furever home. He ended up being adopted by long-time supporters of Canine Cupids and now gets to be the resident dog that helps out other fosters.

Bowie - At just a few months old, Bowie was found in a dumpster with a bad looking eye. We took him in and he was luckily able to keep both eyes! He found a home in the country where he can romp around with his big brother. Plus after having him for about a year, his family decided they also wanted to help out and now he helps foster too!

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

Peterson: We work very closely with three area animal controls. They will reach out to us when they have dogs with extra needs, but our fosters also know to look at their resident dog lists when they are ready for their next foster dog. We've developed relationships with them now so that they will let foster families come meet the dog in advance and sometimes even bring in their resident dog to meet the new foster if that's something the foster family needs to do. We try to attend all the rescue and dog events and network with other rescues as much as we can. We know we can't do this alone!

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

Peterson: Adoption Process - When adopting out foster dogs in our rescue, we have a three-step process. Step 1: Meet and Greet - this is where the prospective adopters will spend some time with the dog to get to know them. The foster family is there so that they can answer any questions they have about the foster dog. The foster family can also ask the prospective adopters any questions to make sure this is going to be a good fit. And this is where the resident dog would meet their potential new brother or sister, if applicable. Step 2: Slumber Party - this is where the prospective adopters essentially take over "fostering" the dog for a few days while they determine if the dog is going to fit in their lifestyle and if it gets along with the whole family (other adults, kids, cats, dogs, etc.). If the family decides its not a good fit at any point during the slumber party, the dog will go back to its foster family. If the Slumber Party ends and they want to keep the dog, then they they absolutely can! Step 3: Adoption! This can also be flexible based on the dog - maybe they need slower introduction or longer slumber parties. Each experience can definitely be catered to the dogs needs so that we know it's going to be a good fit.

Adoption Contracts - All adopters sign contracts that if for any reason they are no longer willing or able to care for their adopted dog, they will contact the rescue so that we can take them back in. While we hope this is never the case and do have the above process in place to help eliminate this, it can still happen. This way they are not getting dropped off at a shelter if something changes.

Courtesy Cupids Program - We receive a lot of owner surrender requests. Every now and then we are able to help out by taking the dog into rescue, but we also offer this program to help out when we cannot. The Courtesy Cupids program allows dogs to stay in their current homes while looking for a new one. This means we don't disrupt their lives another time by adding in the foster home. They stay with their current owners while we use our resources and marketing efforts to help them look for a new home. We help them vet applicants and they can talk to and meet with adopters to make sure it's going to be a good fit. This helps keep dogs in homes, while still supporting rehoming efforts, when it's not a good fit.

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

Peterson: At this point, we just want to be able to help even more dogs. This means better fundraising efforts and recruiting more foster families. With shelters at an all time high, post-COVID, we just can't keep up. We are getting daily requests from private homes seeking to rehome their dogs. The supply foster homes we have is just not matching the demand of dogs in need. We, like all other rescues, are just treading water.