When Husky Halfway House founder Jennifer Dietsch moved from California to Eufaula, Oklahoma with a business plan to build an off-leash dog park and coffee shop, she had no idea if would immediately turn into a rescue mission that would take all of her resources and steer her business plan into a slightly different direction.
“It was all good though,” explained Dietsch,” I feel like I stepped into my calling. I live in a tiny town with a population of less than 3000 people. We do not have an animal shelter, animal control or resources for emergency or low-cost vet care so I thought, maybe we can help. Our city posted a job availability for an animal control officer but really, that just means someone picking up a stray and sending them off to a kill shelter in whatever nearby city that will take them. So, in less than two months we will be signing contracts with our city to provide animal control. We won’t operate like a large city shelter though. Our goal will be to get the strays off the streets, get them vaccinated, fixed, returned to their owners or adopted to new families. It may take a few years but I would like to be able to reach the entire tiny town with registration tags so we can help everyone here with resources if they need them and help make sure that their pets make it safely back home.”
This registered 501(c)(3) organization has rescued more than 50 huskies to date according to Dietsch, and the rescues include huskies plus a few other mixed breeds of dogs from all over Oklahoma and a few other states.
“Many of the dogs are being pulled from city shelters, many owner surrenders and way too many abuse cases. I anticipate that number tripling by the end of 2020. At this time, we only take dogs and mainly huskies, but we will begin to work with all dog breeds and cats as we develop our animal control program. We are still so young and the word is just getting out that we are growing so who knows. A few hundred at least.”
As the business needs for this noble cause have developed, Dietsch realized that the canines in her care would need a commercial-grade kennel to provide shelter and began searching online for a builder that would help with financing as well as provide a good quality product. Her choice was a Horizon Structures 12’ x 24’ commercial kennel replete with a lobby. As many kennel clients do, Dietsch researched online and purchased via the Horizon Structures website. The site is chock full of video tours (see them HERE, HERE and HEREE), educational blogs such as how best to deal with dog waste with modern designs, details on how kennels are best built, plus a huge array of designs all of which can be customized.
“I am not sure that I didn’t just start thinking about prefab kennel buildings and Siri probably read my mind and planted a Horizon Structures ad on my Facebook page feed,” joked Dietsch.
“Honestly though, the financing option was a factor in my decision to go with Horizon. Working with you guys has been great. No downs. Everything was exactly what I needed. The fact that I wasn’t needed made the whole experience great in my opinion since I honestly didn’t know what I needed. In the end, the kennel showed up with everything incorporated in the design.
Basically, I made a few decisions, paid a big fat bill, trusted that you had my back while I continued on with all the other work I need to do here. It was great to not have to think about the building. Time is money so it was worth it to have it built and delivered complete.
The kennel is better than any of us thought it would be. You guys really thought of everything from the flip out windows to the waterproof walls. We love it. It is beautiful! We are still working on getting the plumbing and electrical installed but once that is done, we will be using the lobby area of the kennel for a big project that is about to take place here.
We recently partnered up with a non-profit called Matter of Trust. In a nutshell, we will be using the lobby of the kennel as a ‘hub’ for Matter of Trust. We will have a felting machine that will turn our huskies’ fur into hair mats that will be used to clean up oil spills and protect waterways with their sandbag quality. Please visit their website at https://matteroftrust.org/donate-hair-fur-and-fiber/ to learn more about their wonderful program.”
When Dietsch was asked if she would recommend Horizon Structures’ kennels to others, she had this to say:
“Absolutely! I have had a few people that have rescues come by to see it. Hopefully, you will hear from one or more of them and every finger crossed you will hear from me soon, letting you know I found a donor and need a bigger kennel.”
As with most rescues there are many special stories of rehab that have happened over the years. When Dietsch was asked for some examples, her reply was full of emotion:
“Oh gosh, I want you to sleep tonight. Most of our special stories come with a heart-breaking beginning. We get a lot of huskies in that have been kept on chains and in horrible conditions. We pull many huskies from shelters off their euthanasia lists; we take in huskies that need a place to go when their owners can’t care for them or their life changes and we even have a few huskies whose owners were given a choice by animal control to pay a ton of fines every time the dog escapes, which huskies are famous for doing, fix the problem by buying a fence or give them up. I also get a lot of huskies who have medical needs and owners who could not afford the maintenance let alone the result of the neglect, which is all too often because of a lack of education and support.
Anytime a husky gets a forever home is a rehab story I like sharing. Please check out our Facebook page, Husky Halfway House, and scroll through our timeline. Lots of great stories there. Some will make you cry though. Just a warning!”
Dietsch has not met her goals for Husky Halfway House and has many plans in the works. Aside from a community dog park that she hopes to see fully funded, more money is needed to fulfill the full scope of the rescue project.
“We are a public charity so can take tax deductible donations. Many small rescues that are foster based can rely on a few adoption fees and donations to keep things going but we have bigger plans than that and are working towards a full 7-acre facility. Right now, our immediate need is a kennel large enough to accommodate our new animal welfare program. At least 20 kennel boxes, preferably set inside a building to keep the noise levels down.
It would be great to get something large enough to have a lobby space where we can hire a vet and do our own medicine. Vet care takes way more than we get back in adoption fees, so we really truly do rely on people to donate money to stay above water. Reality is though that our mission needs three million dollars to fulfill its big goal, but its immediate goal needs more than just an adoption fee or donation, we need a sponsor or a donor. We need a business partner.
We are actively looking for someone who shares our passion for saving animals and can help us grow. Know anyone that would like to sponsor a small-town rescue with a new kennel and help conquer our animal control problem? Please contact me at [email protected] We would love to hear from anyone interested in being involved.
Sharing our stories and helping us connect with likeminded people who share our mission can help us help more animals. We rely heavily on Facebook to spread the word about our adoptable dogs and our mission. Liking our pages and posts grows our audience and in turn, increases our chances of finding qualified adopters and reaching that special group of people that can help us reach our bigger goal.”
When asked for any advice she would like to share with pet owners Dietsch’s response was emphatic and made a very good point:
“Yes, and I could go on and on for days about spay and neuter and adopt don’t shop but I’ll skip it this time and encourage everyone to spend as much time with your furry family members as you can because once you go back to work, they will be back to feeling how you are now under quarantine.”
A sobering thought indeed and one that bears reflection in this middle of this Covid19 pandemic.
Whatever your needs for canine care, whether it be dogs large or small or somewhere in-between Horizon Structures is there to answer the call and has been granted permission to continue to deliver animal housing during this crisis. Please don’t be shy to reach out to our team at 888-447-4337 and speak with our resident kennel expert, Merv King.