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 Katie Johnson, one of the devoted people behind Layla’s Heart Ranch and 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?

Johnson: I am the president of the rescue and I started it in 2021 after volunteering at a local animal shelter. There was a dog there that only myself and one other volunteer would handle/walk. I worried for his outcome so I started the rescue and pulled him to safety. LHRR specializes in dogs with behavioral issues and specific needs.

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

Johnson: All of our rescues are special and they all stand out because we rescue dogs that others won’t. We pull dogs from kill commands due to bite histories, leash biting, overarousal issues, animal aggression, stranger danger, etc.

If I had to choose I would say the rescue of Bruno stands out. We were alerted to Bruno by a game warden in south Texas that had been seeing Bruno for days wandering around the area eating deer corn. He was extremely emaciated and was literally on the brink of death. Bruno was used as a bait dog/fighting dog and was thrown out when they were done with him. He had multiple tick borne illnesses as well. I had never seen a dog as skinny as he was or in as bad of shape. He had infected bite wounds all over his frail body.

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

Johnson: Getting donations is always the biggest challenge. There are so many rescues out there and it can be hard to be seen. We just keep pushing and posting and getting our name out there the best we can. We keep putting one foot in front of the other and keeping walking this path that we know we were destined for.

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

Johnson: We focus mostly on euthanasia commanded dogs or dogs that no other rescues will help due to breed, bite history and behavioral issues. As far as adoption, we have an application and then we do multiple interviews, we conduct home checks and background checks.

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

Johnson: We do training with our dogs every day except for Sunday. All of our dogs interact with myself, staff or volunteers everyday and get training, go for walks, go to the play yards, play, get snuggles and love and enrichment.

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

Johnson: We have a volunteer application that they would need to fill out and then they would have to pass a background check. Then they just go through an orientation and training.

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

Johnson: Buddy was a dog that we rescued from being euthanized in San Antonio. He was an abused and neglected pitbull. He actually had a collar embedded into his neck. We brought him into our program, Got him back to health, provided some training and he was adopted by a local firefighter!

Alora came to us from a youth Texas shelter where she was set to be euthanized. She was buck shot and needed immediate medical attention. We rescued her, got her the medical care she needed and she made a full recovery. She then was adopted into an incredible home that loves her like a child. She is spoiled rotten and so happy.

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

Johnson: We actually have multiple dogs from other rescues that asked for our help. We also will step in and assist other rescues when they need resources and help in regards to rescuing and we have excellent relationships with our local shelters. We try to step in and pull dogs when they are overcapacity or they have a dog that needs extra training, attention and love.

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

Johnson: We just try to educate through our social media platforms.

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

Johnson: We recently purchased 22 acres in the mountains and plan to expand to rescue farm animals as well. We plan to continue rescuing animals from euthanasia and stepping up to help those no other rescues will.