A voice for homeless dogs
By MELODY KARPINSKI / Santa Rosa Correspondent
“My name is Murphy. I am nine weeks old and I have the easiest going temper ever. I’m a black lab and mastiff, and I love everyone everywhere.”
If you read the classifieds, you no doubt have come across similar ads. They’re the brainchild of Santa Rosa resident Mary Quinn, 55, who is not above pandering if it helps her find homes for her pets.
She runs All Aboard Animal Search & Rescue, a nonprofit that saves and rehabilitates unwanted and abandoned dogs, along with a few horses and cats.
Quinn traces her love of animals back to childhood, when the family’s German shepherd was one of her best friends. The family also had cats, and she remembers following one of them to find where she had hidden her newborn kittens.
Her nonprofit work started in 1996 after a troubled dog attacked some of Quinn’s horses. Local animal shelter staff advised her to shoot the dog, but she preferred to save it. The same year, her daughter found an abandoned dog on the roadside during her Lake County commute. She drove the dog to the pound and paid for him to stay alive until Quinn could pick him up.
“I had just had surgery and could not even pick him up, but I was not going to let him die,” Quinn said. “It was my daughter wanting to save that dog that (inspired) me to do this full-time.”
Says Marsha Blank, a volunteer with the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter, “Mary really cares about the dogs and doesn’t just let them go to anybody. She loves them and recently took in two dogs that (the shelter) had scheduled to euthanize.”
Quinn specializes in challenging cases like Bella Blue, a 3-year-old pit bull who was used as a breed dog and kept in a dark garage. Quinn found her while investigating a call about two more pit bulls being kept on a chain. She bought the two, then asked about the female inside.
“’‘She’s sick,’ he told me, so I bought them all and brought them here,” Quinn said. “She had the worst case of giarardia I’ve ever seen, and was so full of fleas the water was pink when I gave her a bath.”
After two years of physical and emotional recovery, Quinn said, Bella Blue was healthy enough for a permanent home in Petaluma.
“It’s hard work, patience and consistency,” she said. “There’s no fairy wand to cure what has happened to them. You have to have the timing and patience to heal them.”
Sometimes the process also heals humans. “We helped a boy who had been adopted adopt a dog, to see for himself what it’s like,” Quinn said. “He said he got it after that.”
Since many of her animals have come from difficult backgrounds, finding them homes is often challenging. After traditional ads in the classifieds weren’t catching much attention, Quinn decided to pursue a more imaginative route.
“I decided I was going to let the animals have their own voice, and they would write the ad about themselves,” she said. “The stories have been a huge hit and have placed many animals.”
Quinn has a long list of things she would still like to accomplish, like opening a small facility for lost and found pets, organizing a team of people to locate strays and get them off the street, starting a program for troubled teens to work with animals, and creating a pet-sitting program for seniors with medical emergencies.
In the meantime, Quinn and her husband are busy keeping up with their own animals — four dogs, four rescue horses and two burros.
“There’s something we have never been able to explain about how we feel about animals,” said Quinn. “It’s because an animal fills a space in our soul that no human being can.”
You can reach Quinn at 707-526-0970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.