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Photo Courtesy of @msfayeelle

Rescuing is serious work at Stray to Play

Edited by Melanie Dziengo 

Rescuing animals is serious business at Stray to Play. Since starting a year ago, they have saved 124 dogs from three different countries. We talked to Faye Ly, one of the five founding members, about their experiences since their May 2020 launch, challenges on being a new rescue, and their favourite dog rescue story.

 

What's your role at Stray to Play?

 

I currently take the lead on local intakes and owner surrenders. I'm also the events director, heading up fundraising and vendor partnerships. My day-to-day includes going through surrender profiles that are posted on rescue transfer sites to see if there are any dogs Stray to Play can accommodate. I'm also always looking to improve our vendor and donor relationships.

 

What are some of the challenges being a new rescue?

 

The obvious challenge would be funding, and trying to ensure we have a comfortable cash flow in order to support all necessary medical needs for the dogs in our care. I remember when we first launched, I had sent out over 100 direct emails to local vendors, food brands, and potential donors introducing Stray to Play, and asking for support. I received about five responses, with only one brand committing to a donation (Thanks Crumps' Naturals!!). It was hard and very humbling.

 

Another challenge when we first launched was signing on new foster parents. We were lucky to have a great community of friends that were onboard, but as a foster-based rescue without a physical location, not having a large foster roster when we started definitely impeded the amount of dogs we were able to take in.

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Photo Courtesy of Faye Ly

How many dogs have you saved so far and where are they mainly from? 

 

We have saved 124 dogs since our launch in May 2020. Currently our dogs come to us from Ontario shelters, owner surrenders, Turkey, Mexico, and Texas.

 

How many people are part of your team? How do you manage to work together during the pandemic?

 

Stray to Play is currently running off a team of 14 "full time" volunteers. I say "full time" as the 14 of us all have an assigned role and do need to commit time daily to ensure that our tasks are complete. In addition to the 14 of us, we are blessed to have a large AMAZING group of "casual" volunteers who assist ongoing based on what their schedules allow. Like everyone else, there has been a lot of Zoom calls, Slack messages and e-mails and it's worked quite smoothly!

 

What's your most heartwarming rescue story so far?

 

Abby was an older boxer, who came to us as an owner surrender. Unfortunately her owner had come down on hard times due to COVID, and financially and logistically was unable to keep her. Sadly, bigger dogs have a harder time being pulled, and the fact that Abby was not a puppy also didn't work in her favour. It was an "urgent request,” and we were lucky to have a foster step up. Having spoken to the owner prior to taking Abby in, I was already emotionally invested. People often have preconceived notions on owner surrenders, and I admit I was guilty of those same opinions prior to working with Stray to Play. I couldn't fathom the idea of giving up a dog, but now that I speak with owner surrenders daily, I have a whole new appreciation of what it can mean. Yes, there will always be people who will give away their dog without another thought, but many of our owner surrenders are people who actually love their dogs ENOUGH to understand they are not giving their dogs the life they deserve, and by giving away their dog to a rescue group, they are ensuring their dog can have another happy forever home.

Abby was the perfect dog! She loved kids, cats and dogs, and I believe a lot of that had to do with how much she was loved by her first family. A friend of mine fostered Abby, so I was lucky enough to see her on several occasions. I was also able to give Abby's first family updates, which they appreciated and that made the surrender process easier for them. Abby was adopted into an awesome family with human siblings (the kind she loves), and she's spoiled and loved. 

What makes the work you do the most worthwhile?

 

Some days are extra hard, and like many others that have been rescuing for many years, I completely understand why they get burnt out. Sadly it is a battle that we may never win (at least not in my lifetime). But, for me, it's seeing the dogs come out of their shells when in our care. Hearing or reading the "happy ever after" stories from adopters that share photos and stories of how the pups have changed their lives, and knowing that this dog that was discarded and fighting to survive never has to fight another battle on their own again — that makes it worth it every time.

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Photo courtesy of @msfayeelle

What makes the work you do the most worthwhile?

 

Some days are extra hard, and like many others that have been rescuing for many years, I completely understand why they get burnt out. Sadly it is a battle that we may never win (at least not in my lifetime). But, for me, it's seeing the dogs come out of their shells when in our care. Hearing or reading the "happy ever after" stories from adopters that share photos and stories of how the pups have changed their lives, and knowing that this dog that was discarded and fighting to survive never has to fight another battle on their own again — that makes it worth it every time.

What do you look for in a potential adopter?

 

A lot of the basics: great home environment, someone who is committing long-term and can financially and logistically support the dog. Also, someone who understands what it means to adopt a rescue dog, as they aren't perfect, and they may never be. Many rescue pups come with baggage, and this baggage is what makes the experience extra special, but it will take a LOT of patience, commitment and love.

 

What advice would you give someone thinking about adopting a rescue animal?

 

Do your research and maybe some soul searching. Figure out what you can deal with, and what your limits are as dogs (like children) will test your patience and push your buttons. Ask yourself if you're ready to commit to a tiny furry being for the rest of their life, knowing that they don't speak your language and never will. If after all that you still feel a rescue is for you, then I always recommend fostering first. It gives you the ability to have a "trial run" with a pup fully supported by our team. If after fostering you feel the pup is for you, you can always adopt that dog.


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Photo courtesy of @msfayeelle

Photo courtesy of @msfayeelle