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 Katelyn Reckaway, one of the devoted people behind Love And Puppy Paws 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?

Reckaway: I decided to start Love And Puppy Paws Dog Rescue after seeing the dire situation with the number of animals abandoned either on the streets or at high kill animal control facilities. Growing up in small Texas towns, both Desiree Galvan, our co-founder, and I took on rescuing abandoned animals ourselves, vetting them out of pocket, and trying to find them forever homes. I moved away from the small South Texas town outside of Corpus Christi to go to college in Austin, and I saw the impact that rescues had. There were not packs of roaming dogs on every corner or dogs being dumped on back roads to fend for themselves, and the animal control facility for the entire county was no-kill. When I moved back to Corpus Christi to pursue a master's degree, I noticed how many stray dogs were being dumped in my neighborhood and at my workplace. Again, I began taking them into my home, vetting them and adopting them out locally. I realized that I could not do this alone or make a significant impact without joining forces with a formal rescue. I first got involved as a foster for a couple of local Corpus Christi rescues and met Desiree. Together we grew into roles on the board of directors for one of those rescues where we learned so much about what the rescue community needed. We made an impressionable impact by fostering, rehabilitating, and finding forever homes for many dogs and puppies over the years, but after fostering for different rescue organizations, we realized that the focus was on saving dogs from larger animal control facilities in bigger cities. We were both raised in small towns where the animal control facilities and street dogs did not get near enough assistance. We saw how many momma dogs were being left behind when other rescues would step in to help their puppies and how many rescues would jump to help a small, fluffy dog but ignored pleas for help for pitties, rotties, and other large breed dogs. We decided to start Love And Puppy Paws Dog Rescue to help the dogs that many rescues turn away from. The street dogs, the bully breeds, the momma dogs, the medical cases, the scared dogs, and the dogs that aren't always just small and fluffy. Those are the dogs that we knew needed more help, and our rescue was formed to be that extra help for the "unwanted" dogs.

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

Reckaway: I have so many that come to mind, but my favorite one is the story of Jax. He was abandoned outside of a very rural animal control facility that only has 5 outdoor kennels, no vet on staff, and no real animal control workers (just a volunteer city worker who fed the dogs and cleaned the kennels around his other duties with his city job). We were there to pick up a momma dog and her two puppies that were dehydrated, malnourished and covered in ringworm. We had no intentions of taking another dog because we didn't have space in any of our foster homes after taking in this family of 3, but then we saw Jax. He was so emaciated you could count every single bone underneath his skin, but at the same time his stomach was so bloated he looked like someone just filled his entire belly with water to the point where it could burst with any more pressure. His eyes were so full of green mucus that the bottom eyelids were weighed down and keeping his eyes open. He could barely hold his head up because he was so weak. His breathing was so labored we were afraid he would stop breathing altogether at any given moment. We couldn't leave him behind. We had no idea how old he was, what medical conditions he had, or what his history was, but we knew he needed out. We rushed him 2.5 hours back to Austin and immediately took him to one of our trusted vets that took one look at him, and without saying a word they grabbed him and ran to the back with him. His bloodwork was the worst we've ever seen. His organs were shutting down to the point where they wouldn't hold fluid and it was seeping into his abdomen. We have no idea how this puppy was still alive. Our vet tapped his abdomen to relieve some of the pressure, but told me that he probably wouldn't make it through the night and if we decided to euthanize him to stop his suffering, she would understand. I looked in his eyes and saw that he still had some fight left in him, so I took him home so he could experience some love and comfort in case he didn't make it through the night. When I woke up the next morning, Jax greeted me by standing up and giving me the tiniest little licks on my hand. I knew he was going to keep fighting for his life, so I made the decision that I was going to continue to fight for him until he told me he was done. I spent weeks rehabilitating him and taking him to bi-weekly vet visits for abdomen taps, bloodwork and checkups. Some days I would have to carry him outside and hold him up while he did his business. Some days I would have to hand feed him wet food when he was too weak to chew hard food. Some days he would cry in pain so I would hold him, situate him to where the pressure of the fluid in his abdomen wasn't pressing against his organs, and comfort him until he finally went to sleep. Right before my eyes, he started blossoming into a beautiful, healthy, loving, spunky, playful puppy. He got adopted by a wonderful family that followed his story from day 1 that we took him into our rescue. I get updates on him often, and those updates always seem to come on harder days when I need them the most. He was a fighter, and he still reminds me why I fight for these fur-babies. They deserve a chance at a happy life with a family that loves them and cherishes them, and I'm honored to be part of their journeys.

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

Reckaway: The biggest challenges we face as a rescue organization are lack of committed foster homes, lack of funding, lack of laws and city ordinances to hold people accountable for neglecting, abusing and abandoning animals. When it comes to fosters, we need them to be able to take in more dogs in need and unfortunately we get significantly more requests to help dogs than we have room for. We have started expanding our foster search to smaller cities outside of the two main cities we operate in, and we've been able to help more dogs because of a handful of wonderful people who step up to open their homes and hearts to foster LAPP Dogs for our organization, but we always need more fosters. Lack of funding is something that is a constant struggle. We have to turn away taking some dogs into our rescue because we know that we do not get enough assistance financially through donations or grants, and it would not be fair to commit to a dog that we cannot afford to give the proper vet care it needs. We do budget for a set number of extreme medical cases and also a large number of heartworm positive dogs that require expensive treatments, but we are limited on how many we can take in each month due to our limited financial resources. We do our best to balance our intake so that we can take on those extreme medical cases as often as possible. When it comes to the lack of laws and city ordinances against animal neglect, abandonment, and abuse, or at least enforcement of the laws and ordinances in place, we continue to be the voice for the dogs in every way we can and try to bring attention to it through social media by telling their stories, by contacting city leaders directly, and even offering assistance to our communities by paying for spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and heartworm prevention for owned pets.

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

Reckaway: We are 100% foster based, so we take in dogs that we have a foster willing to take them into their homes to foster. We do not discriminate against dogs based on their breeds, age, or disabilities. We love them all and will take them into our rescue as long as we have a place for them. Both myself and our other director, Desiree, usually take the harder medical cases, bottle babies, and hospice dogs as it is harder to find fosters for those, but we think those dogs deserve a chance just as much as a healthy, easily adoptable dog does. We also take in some behavioral dogs and rehabilitate them with the help of our wonderful certified animal behaviorists and trainers.

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

Reckaway: All of our LAPP Dogs are in foster homes, so we get to know what each dogs' needs are. If a dog needs more 1:1 time to socialize, then we will move them into a foster that has more time to commit to that. If they need more advanced training with a certified animal behaviorist, we have wonderful trainers that we consult and work with. If they need specific structured environments for desensitization and introductions to other dogs, then we step in to provide guidance to our fosters or we take those dogs into one of our directors' homes where we know we have a balanced pack that are trained and used to doing those harder integrations with dogs that need extra work.

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

We are 100% volunteer based and 100% foster based. Since we are foster-based, we always need volunteers that can foster a LAPP Dog. Volunteers to transport dogs to vet appointments and to meet transport to head home to their adopters are always needed as well.

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

We have so many success stories that it's hard to narrow it down to just a few. One of our shy, scared, semi-feral street dogs that was taken into our rescue is now a trained therapy dog that visits nursing homes. We took in another dog that was deemed "dangerous" and on the euthanasia list at an animal control facility that is now a trained service dog for his adopter. There are just so many success stories, and every single one of them are special in their own unique way.

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

We partner with independent street rescuers to take in medical cases, such as strays that were hit by cars or abused while on the streets. We also partner with many small and rural animal control facilities that do not have a live release team, vet on staff, or even volunteer networkers. We also work with some rescues to take in dogs that they are not equipped to handle, such as neurological cases or behavioral cases. We have built a great relationship with many rescuers, rescues and animal control facilities and we work together to help as many dogs as possible.

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

We currently try to help pet owners with spaying and neutering their dogs to help prevent unwanted litters. We also provide resources for low cost and free vetting options for those pet owners who qualify. We provide resources for responsible rehoming if our rescue is unable to take in a dog due to space constraints in foster homes, and offer a list of reputable organizations that may be able to assist. We also allow owners to foster their own dogs if we can help provide vetting and work on getting them adopted out. We also donate food and supplies every chance we can, or provide struggling pet owners with resources to obtain free pet food or vaccinations if they are not local to our area.

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

Reckaway: When we started this rescue, our mission was to promote and provide the resources, education, and programs needed to decrease the number of abandoned, neglected and stray dogs in South and Central Texas in an effort to assist in reaching the goal of making more Texas animal control facilities no-kill. We know that we can continue providing resources, education and hopefully programs in the future to help cut down on the number of abandoned and unwanted dogs on the streets. Our goal of helping more animal control facilities no kill has changed a bit because we've learned that it comes down to the citizens in each small town and large city that we work in to reach that goal, and instead of focusing on reforming the animal control facilities' processes, we really want the change to be at the citizen-level so we have a lot of work to do in that regard to make a real impact. We believe that by educating the public on why spaying and neutering is important, providing assistance or resources to access affordable vet care, and helping promote people treating their pets as part of their family instead of property, then that is going to be the way that we can make the biggest impact. We always say that we can't rescue our state out of the overpopulation problem, but we can educate and offer assistance to help make more pet owners responsible pet owners.