The cruelty of animal abuse thrives in the gap between the good intentions of people who recognize it, but are powerless to do anything – and the authorities whose response is often constrained by the law.
Stepping into that gap – and saving the lives of countless innocent, abused animals by doing so – are the Dog Soldiers of Justice Rescue, a 501(3)(c) animal rescue organization in the Philadelphia area.
Justice Rescue’s Dog Soldiers, Wolf, Crash and Gary, are on a mission to rescue animals directly from the hands of abusers. Acting on reports or tips from observers, the Dog Soldiers act in concert with law enforcement and SPCA authorities to bring accountability to abusers and to ensure justice is done for the animal.
Sometimes they just do the dirty work. Even if it means overcoming personal fears, as Russell “Wolf” Harper, pack leader of Justice Rescue, explained in a recent Facebook post:
Justice Rescue: First Line of Defense
Reporting abuse is the first step in helping an animal, but it’s often not done for several reasons. Sometimes a person is unclear about how to report the abuse, or is concerned about revealing their identity and exposing themselves to retribution.
The Justice Rescue website encourages people to take the first step. The main navigation bar includes a tab “Report Abuse” that displays a confidential form requesting the information needed for Justice Rescue to investigate…including a question asking for the best time and place to witness the abuse or condition of the dog.
This report often is the catalyst that propels Wolf, Crash and Gary into action. Sometimes they act after receiving reports via social media. Recently they responded to a report of a dog stolen from a 22 month old boy – his first best friend!
Justice Rescue posted a $1,000 reward for information related to the theft. It didn’t take long before the thief was identified and law enforcement stepped in to recover the dog – in addition to the family’s stolen property.
In a perfect “happy ending”, the boy was reunited with his dog – and Wolf and the Dog Soldiers got to meet the lucky dog! Read more about it here.
Justice Rescue: Second Line of Defense
Physical rescue from a bad situation is just the start for many dogs on the path to recovery and rehabilitation. Decent shelter, food, medical care and caring human interaction are the next elements needed to transition abused animals back into loving families.
Staffed by dedicated and caring volunteers, Justice Rescue runs a foster and adoption program once the dogs are well enough to become a family dog. Available dogs are listed on the website, but Justice Rescue’s Facebook posting relates the story of each dog – usually penned by Wolf himself.
This level of commitment obviously requires a great deal of funding and donations. Wolf and his Dog Soldiers are extremely active in spearheading fund raising events and concerts throughout the Philadelphia area – again, all publicized on Facebook.
Justice Rescue: Third Line of Defense
Perhaps the most overlooked ingredient to a successful re-homing of an abused dog is training. It is a monumental task to recover an abused dog and find a new home that pledges to love and care for the dog. But the long-term success of that new arrangement often depends on the complete elimination of any aggressive behavior learned during abuse.
Wolf uniquely understood that. During his years of volunteering at shelters, Wolf was keenly aware of the surrender rate for dogs with uncontrolled or aggressive behavior. He took these dogs home and worked with them to create and hone his own style of training that proved highly effective in eliminating the aggression.
In 2014, Wolf opened Justice Rescue Training to share his wisdom, insight and experience with families that adopt to ensure that a “forever” home remains just that.
Justice Rescue: A Prototype for the Future of Rescue Organizations
Wolf may seem a little unusual in the world of abused animal shelters. Actually, his vision to improve the effectiveness of animal rescue organizations for the benefit of the animals is the prototype for their evolution.
Earlier in 2014, Wolf was named interim Executive Director of the Chester County (Pa) SPCA. It’s not just his passion and commitment to the animals that qualified him for the position.
According to SPCA Board President Pat Biswanger, “He also has the business background” to run a highly effective rescue organization, including organizational coordination, education and funding initiatives.
Most uniquely – and in combination with his passion – Wolf understands the area’s animal laws and knows how to apply them on behalf of the abused animals.
“He wants to establish a model for what shelters should be like in America,” said Biswanger. “We’re working with him to be that model so that we can say ‘this is how you run a really effective shelter.’”
Do you have a Justice Rescue story to share? Or, do you have a local animal rescue group that works like Justice Rescue? Tell us here, or on Facebook.