Story by Mary King-Moore. Photos by Nancy McGuire.
A humble advocate for rescue dogs, Cindy Chadwick has been saving dogs since 1988. Her introduction to rescue was a visit to a small North Texas shelter. There Cindy learned the dogs were “put down” on a weekly basis if they were not adopted. At 18, she knew in her heart she wanted to help these animals. Cindy asked the shelter if she could try on her own to find homes for the dogs. “I would go by weekly and grab some dogs and take them to the vet and administer a dewormer.” The vet in her small town was willing to help her. She would then place an ad in the nearby city newspaper stating “free to a good home.” After rescuing many dogs with this routine, Cindy still continues the process 34 years later.
Over the years, she has been focused on finding permanent homes for dogs who are strays on the streets, in extreme hoarding cases, in shelters, and pets that are being carelessly rehomed through social media channels. Cindy shared some moving stories of helping dogs in need. One case involved going onto a property with over 75 loose dogs. The owner was present, but Cindy and other rescuers were cautious upon entry because the dogs were not in kennels. There was literally a herd of dogs nipping at her heels, bouncing, barking, and lunging at her. Not afraid of a challenge, Cindy and the other rescuers formed a plan to help these desperate animals.
Another type of rescue Cindy has done is trapping, a common method for fearful stray dogs, although it is very time-consuming. Humane traps are set and monitored in hopes the dog will go in. After the dog is captured, the real work begins– trying to locate the owner. If an owner is located and relinquishes the dog, or if the rescuers are unable to find the owner, the next step is to rehab and socialize the dog with the goal of finding it a permanent home. Cindy references Duck Team 6 Street Dog Rescue as a great resource for helping reduce the street dog population. Kacy Hendricks, a trapping specialist in the Dallas area, has partnered with Cindy at times to rescue stray dogs.
Cindy says every rescue situation is unique, which contributes to her passion for saving dogs. She once followed a stray German Shepherd who wandered into a CVS pharmacy. The dog was in very poor health, was heartworm positive, and the total veterinarian bill was $1,500. She eventually discovered the escaped dog had been concealed in the owner’s backyard. With persuasive coaxing, she was able to convince the owner to relinquish the dog. Cindy rehomed the pet to a loving and caring environment where the dog was able to live a spoiled, safe, clean and healthy life.
With so many dogs in need of help–there are over 100,000 animals euthanized each year in Texas alone–Cindy decided to start her own rescue organization. Solo Dog Rescue is a small independent volunteer organization. It’s run by Cindy, hence the name Solo. Her goals are to reduce the cycle of rehoming and educate people about caring for pets. She is an avid believer in fostering and aims to teach people the importance of fostering in saving dogs. “We can only save as many dogs as we have foster homes for.”
Solo Dog Rescue educates the community on the importance of spaying and neutering, socializing pets, and integrating rescued dogs as true members of the family. In addition, Cindy as the “Solo” rescue team member, will assist with rehoming “owner surrendered” dogs. Surrendering a dog is when a person relinquishes ownership of the pet to a shelter or rescue. Some pet owners think that when they surrender their pet to a shelter, the pet will eventually find a loving home, perhaps one better than they were able to provide -the truth is often quite different.
Cindy partners with the Richardson Humane Society (RHS) as part of their animal welfare program and is the Dog Foster Coordinator. She balances the needs of the RHS and will work independently to help save as many dogs as possible. With her partnership at RHS, there is a team of fosters, but there is always a desperate need for more foster homes.
Whether it’s for SDR or RHS, Cindy strives to save dogs through the training of fosters. If you or someone you know is interested in fostering dogs in the Dallas area, please contact Solo Dog Rescue through Facebook. Cindy adds that the best dog fosters are first and foremost ready to work through integration challenges. Flexibility and teamwork are other attributes of a great dog foster. Most dogs that are surrendered need help with socialization, basic training, and getting used to a structured routine. Exercise, play, and love are the fun parts of fostering, including the love from the dog that you get in return. Trained fosters are an integral part of a successful rescue and rehome program.
Cindy dedicates a huge portion of her time to saving dogs while balancing the needs of her two boys, one of whom has special needs. “I honestly get how life changes can drop you to your knees. Caring for pets in a time of life changes and crisis can sometimes be too much, and for the owners that care enough to see their pets get to another good home, I’d like to help when I can.” She abashedly shares that when she learned of her son’s diagnosis, and the realization that it was life-altering for her entire family, she attempted to rehome her dogs. She genuinely felt her family would be unable to give them the time and attention they had been used to receiving and deserved. She reached out to rescues, with little or no responses or help. She is beyond thankful to the one rescue representative that gave her five minutes, and with kindness and grace encouraged her to keep her pets, that everything would settle and the dogs would adapt. Cindy is now paying it forward with Solo, one dog, one foster, one rescue at a time.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Annie Foster, the German Shepherd who wandered into the CVS. She was called “Annie Foster” because she started as a foster, then was eventually adopted and loved. She passed away earlier this year from cancer.