Tina Hudson, Darryl Saunders, Tom Lange, Lori Fallon and Jami Nazzaro make up Rottie Empire Rescue (RER), an agency that is giving hope to hundreds of shelter dogs and shedding a new light on some public misconceptions.
RER adopts dogs that are typically hard to find homes for - dogs with physical limitations like amputated limbs; anxiety from a lifetime of abuse; or bad reputations, like a rottweiler or a pit bull. After receiving these dogs from area shelters, emergency rescue operations or unsatisfactory owners, RER does a lot more than toss them into a cage and cross their fingers.
“We do not board dogs,” said RER President Tina Hudson. “[The dogs we have] don’t kennel well. They’re sensitive dogs. They don’t do well at shelters because they’re so loyal. They miss their people and they grieve.”
Instead, RER finds foster homes for the dogs they take in, and that is where their adoption makeover begins.
“We learn the dog’s mannerisms, address any triggers,” said Hudson. “If they aren’t crate trained, we crate train them. If they aren’t housebroken, we housebreak them.”
Dogs that wouldn’t get a second glance at the area shelter are nurtured, groomed, respected and, most importantly, understood at an RER foster home.
“When a ‘bully’ breed like a rottweiler is turned over to a shelter, odds are it will be euthanized,” said Hudson. “But [they are] the best breed of dog I’ve ever been involved with.”
Although they are an extremely loyal, sensitive and intelligent breed, rottweilers are not typically well-known for these characteristics. With large muscle mass and powerful jaws, rottweilers are usually portrayed as temperamental time bombs, just waiting to attack.
Stereotypes like these keep RER hard at work; in fact, they’re the reason RER was formed in the first place.
“I had been involved with rottie rescue for 10 years when I met Bentley,” said Hudson. “He had two broken legs, was a dwarf, and the organization that I was working with wouldn’t put the money into him.”
Bentley’s physical limitations, as well as the fact that he was a rottweiler, made him a hard-sell to area shelters. Paying for his medical expenses alone would be costly. No one wanted to invest in a dog that would more than likely end up un-adoptable. Why not just euthanize him now?
Frustrated and tired of feeling helpless, Tina enlisted Tom Lange, and together, with Bentley, they decided to create their own rescue agency.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Since their passionate beginning in 2010, Rottie Empire Rescue has saved countless dogs and their scope continues to widen. After a devastating tornado crippled Birmingham, Ala., RER was there to take 20 dogs back north to find homes; and in February of last year, when 200 rottweilers were seized in an animal cruelty case in Coryell County, Texas, RER took as many as they could.
“One of the ‘Texas 200,’ Anya, tested positive for heartworm,” Hudson said. “So, we paid her medical bills and she was actually adopted out to the district attorney of Albany.”
Extreme cases of abuse and neglect account for a good number of RER’s rescues and the rehabilitation and re-homing of these animals requires a lot of community help.
“Without the support of the community, we are nothing,” said Hudson. “Benson’s Pet Center and Milton Manor provide us with so much. Benson’s feeds our dogs and even holds a bottle drive to benefit us. Without them, we couldn’t operate.”
“Saratoga is a dog-friendly town,” said RER Treasurer Tom Lange. “That’s why it was important for us to be here. We need the support and understanding of the community. Dogs need help everywhere; don’t breed or buy while thousands die. People need to make rescue their first choice.”
For more information on how to adopt an RER dog or ways to volunteer your services, visit www.rottieempirerescue.com.