Monday, 23 December 2013
Triumphant Tails Inc: Before and After Stories that will Melt your Heart
Kym Ann Dabideen-Denton, Co-Founder/President
Triumphant Tails, Inc. is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit All Breed Canine Rescue Organization. It was founded by myself (Kym Ann Dabideen-Denton) and my husband, Ron Denton. We became a recognized non-profit organization in April 2011. Since that time, we have helped to re-home more than a thousand homeless canines by way of networking efforts with rescue partners, providing nationwide transport, holding adoption events and, of course, by pulling them into our own program and adopting them to forever families.
Our business address is P.O. Box 338, Kemah, TX 77565. We do not have a “facility” that we operate out of. Rather, we utilize the assistance of a handful of foster families in and around the Clear Lake, Texas area (southeast Houston suburbs on the Gulf Coast) to care for the dogs we pull into our program.
We are an “All-Breed” rescue organization which means that we do not discriminate against mixed breeds. Although I spent nearly all of my younger years (through adulthood) showing purebred dogs, I feel that every life is valuable and should be afforded a second chance, regardless of the dog’s heritage. Purebred rescue groups are abundant. Groups that will take any breed (and, most especially, the Pitt Bulls/mixes) are harder to find – and almost always at full capacity.
We are a small organization with usually no more than 20 dogs in our program at any given time. We feel that although the numbers of homeless pets in need are staggering, it’s important that we keep the number of dogs we pull down to a manageable number so that each dog can receive quality care and the attention they deserve until they find their way into forever homes.
A large part of what we do is to work closely with our local shelters to help in the re-homing efforts of dogs still waiting at those facilities. We have become closely affiliated with the La Porte Animal Shelter which is a small, low-traffic facility that does euthanize when space becomes an issue. They have only 21 kennels and need to keep at least 2 available at all times for emergency/quarantine cases that may come in. Because of that, and the overwhelming amount of strays in La Porte plus owner surrenders they take in, we are networking their dogs nearly around-the-clock to get them in the public eye. I can frequently be found at the shelter helping to care for the animals and/or with my camera in-hand photographing the dogs in the play yard for networking purposes. We also bring the shelter dogs to our adoption events from either (or both) the League City and La Porte Animal Shelters. We frequently have 20+ dogs available for adoption at those events. We are one of the few rescue organizations that bring current shelter dogs to our adoption events. Most rescue groups take only the rescued canines within their program.
Since the La Porte Animal Shelter does not have a veterinarian on-site, our organization is the one they call on for emergency situations – dogs which come in requiring immediate medical attention. These cases have ranged from dogs that were struck by vehicles, extremely emaciated (severely neglected) dogs, dogs which have severe skin issues, newborn puppies, dogs with severe heartworm disease, and dogs with embedded collars, to name a few. If a dog comes into the shelter in a condition which either threatens their lives or which makes them “unadoptable” until treated, we usually end up with them. We take them to the wonderful vet clinic that we partner with (Angel Animal Hospital in Pasadena, TX) and do everything within our power to keep them alive and to restore them to good health. By the Grace of God, most of these dogs have all gone on to live happy, well-loved lives in forever homes post-trauma.
Our canines come from various venues including resident shelter dogs (many of them from death row) and dogs that are living on the streets of Houston. We do not typically accept owner-surrendered dogs into our program.
We spend a lot of time networking shelter dogs and have transported dogs (by driving them ourselves) to other rescue groups nationwide that are willing to take them. Our travels have included driving dogs to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kansas, Alabama, Tennessee, and various parts of Texas. We have averaged about 30,000 miles on our vehicle in a 5 month timespan. In addition, we have arranged transport by air for several dogs to states such as Colorado, Montana and California. We frequently incur the vetting and transport expenses to get these dogs to safety. We’re just happy to have somewhere safe for these shelter dogs to go.
Our volunteer base is wide and fluctuates as most volunteer programs do. We have a volunteer coordinator, Ginger Kerrick, who keeps an email database of people who have offered to volunteer as help is needed. Fortunately, Ginger is a NASA employee and is able to recruit many NASA interns each season to assist us at our adoption events (which is where most of the volunteers are needed). At least 50% of our volunteers all come from NASA. She, and they, have been a Godsend to our organization.
We have only five “regular” foster homes, including Ron and I. The dogs enjoy all of the usual comforts of home while they are in foster care. We work on getting them housetrained, crate trained, leash trained and taught basic good manners to help assure their transition to their new home is a successful one. All of our dogs are fully vetted (vaccinated, spayed/neutered and micro-chipped) prior to being re-homed. We require a home visit prior to adoption approval. Occasionally, we will reach out to others for foster care assistance on a temporary basis as well (such as when we’re awaiting transport for shelter dogs to our rescue partners or if we have a shelter dog requiring ongoing vet care).
We largely utilize Facebook as a means of notifying the public about adoptable pets, transport assistance needs, and upcoming events. Sometimes, followers will see those posts and offer to help out as needed on an occasional basis.
The volunteers who join us are avid animal lovers and enjoy socializing with the animals. The thrill of knowing that another forgotten pet has just landed a wonderful forever home because of the time and effort expended by people who care is what it’s all about. It keeps the momentum going – that quest for another life saved.
A large portion of the funds required to run our organization on a day-by-day basis is funded by us, personally. We do not hold regular fundraisers due, mostly, to lack of time (certainly not because of lack of need!). Occasionally, we will have volunteers who will organize a small fundraiser on our behalf. Other donations come in related to a dog with specific medical needs – those “hard luck cases” that require emergency or ongoing vet care. In those instances, I post a plea for help on our Facebook page and create a fundraising account through “YouCaring.com” to raise money to assist us with those expenses. We’ve had great success in getting sponsors that way but the donations are never on an ongoing basis.
We live in modest housing and go without, as many true rescuers do, to fund our mission. There is no greater reward – no million dollar mansion or Lamborghini in the world – that could replace the joy in our lives that these beautiful canines fill. Nothing is as important to us as the lives that we are able to save. We are happy to make those sacrifices.
For anyone wanting to assist us by way of donations, they can be made to us via Paypal to kymann@TriumphantTails.net (Paypal receipt will reflect payment to Triumphant Tails, Inc.), by check to Triumphant Tails, Inc., P.O. Box 338, Kemah, TX 77565, or by calling in a payment to Angel Animal Hospital at 713-944-2424. It is not uncommon for us to write monthly checks to Angel for anywhere from $1,000-$4,000and that’s just for vet care alone (for our rescued canines and current shelter dogs requiring vet care as well).
There are numerous stories I could share, all of which have touched my heart and altered my life in some way, but I suppose the biggest hardship case we’ve had is that of our beloved “Solitaire” (she has now become the organization’s mascot at our events).
In March of this year, we received an email from a Houston resident who asked us for help. She attached a picture of a dog in horrible condition. The picture was taken of a homeless dog at a gunite pool manufacturing company. She was missing most of her fur and her feet were bloodied and swollen unlike anything I had ever seen. At first appearance, it looked as though she had been badly burned.
We set out, two days in a row, to try to capture Solitaire. She was terrified of people. Day one resulted in her escaping under a fenced area that we could not access. Day two started off the same way – but, by the Grace of God, an employee happened to be passing by the facility that day and stopped to inquire as to what we were doing outside the fence. When we explained that we were trying to help the dog inside the fence, he unlocked the gate and let us in.
Through much patience, we were able to finally capture Solitaire. We rushed her to the emergency vet clinic for medical treatment. She was suffering from what our vet said is the “worst case of Demodex (mange)” he has ever seen. Her nails were so long, and her feet so swollen, that many of her nails were imbedded in her paws. She was covered in fleas and ants, and was underweight. There is no doubt that Solitaire wouldn’t have survived much longer in her condition. As her story unfolded on our Facebook page, she captured the hearts of animal lovers nationwide.
Today, six months later, Solitaire is sleeping at my feet. She will never recover fully from the mange but her feet are no longer swollen. She runs and plays as any other dog does. She has grown fur in places the medical professionals didn’t believe it would ever be possible and she has gained about 20 pounds. She looks like a completely different dog. She has never had an accident in our house and immediately took up residency on our couch as though she had been a house dog all of her life. All she needed was for someone to give her a chance – someone to show her kindness and love. She will live out her life with Ron and I. We’ve overcome so many obstacles with her and have created such a bond that it would be impossible to re-home her now.
If you have the time, watching her videos as the capture and her progress unfolds will tell far more of her story than I can put into words. Solitaire has her own Facebook page where four of the videos are posted. Start with the first one and you’ll see how very far this precious dog has come. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Solitaire-Solly/232774806847001?ref=hl
WHAT I ENJOY MOST ABOUT RESCUE
The most obvious response to this question would be the value and joy in saving the lives of these dogs which otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance. For me, it goes much deeper than that. I feel that we all have a purpose in life and that, if we listen to our hearts, we’ll know what that purpose is. There have been hundreds of instances where I have crossed paths with a dog which, on its face, we didn’t have the manpower, resources, or funds to be able to help. But my heart told me otherwise. I listened – and the answers came. Donations came in, foster homes came forward, and those dogs were able to survive and go on to live healthy, happy lives in forever homes which cherish them. They are nothing short of miracles, the kind of miracles that keep us going in the face of adversity time and again. There is ALWAYS hope through faith. We have an abundance of both.
Further information (although outdated somewhat) is available through our website at http://www.TriumphantTails.net and through our Facebook page. I am most active on Facebook which is where 99% of our support network comes from. I post updates, network the shelter dogs and other strays which are found and in need of homes, and announce our upcoming events there on a daily basis.