Left to right: South King Fire and Rescue members Dean Fuller, Cory Freeborn and David Mataftin supply some cuddles for Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary rescue puppies on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

Left to right: South King Fire and Rescue members Dean Fuller, Cory Freeborn and David Mataftin supply some cuddles for Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary rescue puppies on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

South King Fire helps local animal rescue with puppy transport

Seattle-based nonprofit Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary helps rescue and re-home animals from high risk situations and fosters loving relationships along the way.

After a cross-country flight, 10 rescue puppies recently received a proper welcome home by Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary and South King Fire and Rescue firefighters.

Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary is a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs in high risk situations across the country and rehoming them with forever families. RHAS helps facilitate a foster network and provides resources for new pet owners.

The organization puts emphasis on community building and connecting people with pets, said Mike Ezzo, executive director of Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary.

Ezzo, along with board president Erin Handley and board vice president Shaina Ward Siegel, run the nonprofit that connects with a fostering network of nearly 60 individuals in the region.

Recently they emailed the network about needing an emergency home for a pup and “within five minutes, we had 10 offers.”

With the foster network edging 60 homes, Ezzo said the number of willing hands and hearts is still even a surprise to them.

Along with the rescues, the organization also strives to bring people together and find healing through animal relationships.

“We all have our own stories and our own history of resilience,” Ezzo said of the founders. “So we’re trying to bring a little bit of that to our communities as well … saving animals and saving souls.”

Previously, Resilient Hearts welcomed two pups from Texas in August and a litter of five puppies from Georgia around Halloween.

While fostering is about the relationship between pets and people, Ezzo said there is a high surplus of dogs in the south and a big demand for four-legged friends in the Pacific Northwest region.

Usually when the puppies are transported, they are delivered to the airline’s cargo area, where once the pups are pulled off the plane, Ezzo and the team meet the pups with baby wipes to clean the animals and the kennels as soon as possible. Travel time usually lasts about 10 hours and the puppies can be as young as eight weeks.

The Jan. 8 event was Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary’s third and largest transport so far with 10 eight-week-old Boxer and Jack Russel puppies.

“I’ve been in animal rescue for a long time, and I’ve never been a part of something like that,” Ezzo said of the Jan. 8 event. Gordon Fox, a local freelance photographer, captured the event.

With the help of South King Fire and Rescue firefighters from Station 67, this transport of puppies received a different type of homecoming.

The South King Fire connection happened on a whim, but “presented us with an awesome possibility,” Ezzo said.

The Resilient Hearts team picked up dogs from the airport cargo area and immediately brought them to the fire station, about a 10 minute drive away, to unloaded puppies. A group of about 20 excited volunteers and firefighters helped care and bathe the puppies, and sprayed kennels with the fire hose for a thorough wash down.

“They (the firefighters) were able to give us a much better space for cleaning everything,” Ezzo said, expressing gratitude for the department’s eager willingness to help. “We felt a lot of love that night … It was so nice to have that many people offer a hand.”

In February, the organization plans to transport six dogs from Texas around Valentine’s day. With the next group potentially being the first transport of older dogs, the organization is looking forward to how the foster network in Washington responds to this canine demographic.

RHAS has also fostered connections in the Seattle and King County area, such as yoga and pilates classes with puppies at Strive & Uplift gym in Ballard, along with additional foster events and partnerships with The BottleNeck Lounge in Seattle, Tiny Ninja Massage in Green Lake, and Hellbent Brewing Company in Seattle, among others.

Resilient Hearts hopes to expand and work with additional local shelters in King and Pierce counties, north of Seattle and on the Eastside to prevent unnecessary euthanasia, empty cages and help animals find their new homes.

“We want to extend our reach,” Ezzo said of the organization’s ability to grow. “… The possibilities are endless.”

For more information on Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary or to sign up as a foster, visit resilientheartsanimalsanctuary.org.


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South King firefighters, Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary members, volunteers and friends pose for a photo at the Jan. 8 homecoming. Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

South King firefighters, Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary members, volunteers and friends pose for a photo at the Jan. 8 homecoming. Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

SKFR firefighter Cory Freeborn bathes an eight-week-old rescue puppy on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Resilient Hearts
                                SKFR firefighter Cory Freeborn bathes an eight-week-old rescue puppy on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Resilient Hearts

SKFR firefighter Cory Freeborn bathes an eight-week-old rescue puppy on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Resilient Hearts SKFR firefighter Cory Freeborn bathes an eight-week-old rescue puppy on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Resilient Hearts

10 puppies received baths and lots of cuddles upon their arrival from Georgia on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

10 puppies received baths and lots of cuddles upon their arrival from Georgia on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

10 puppies received baths and lots of cuddles upon their arrival from Georgia on Jan. 8. Photo courtesy of Gordon Fox

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