The Dogfather gives new life to desperate dogs
It was a story Jim Owens had heard before and is sure to hear again.
A man had a hunting hound dog that could no longer do its job — in this case because it had gone blind — and the owner didn’t know what to do with him.
Fortunately, Owens did.
Known by the nickname The Dogfather, Owens and his wife, Karen, run a rescue operation for dogs under the umbrella of STAR Ranch, a nonprofit horse rescue organization in Waynesville. Owens agreed to take on the dog, named Duke, and try to find a place where a special needs pet would be welcomed. After making a few phone calls, he found a foster home south of Raleigh that specializes in caring for special needs dogs until permanent home is found.
Within a week, Duke was in his new home, and Owens had the satisfaction of knowing another dog had been saved.
“It’s very rewarding,” Owens said. “It’s what we do 24/7. We’re totally involved in the animals and their well being.”
While Duke was saved thanks to an owner who was willing to go the extra mile to find someone to care for his disabled dog, many animals aren’t so lucky.
“We’ve got so many hound dogs right now. Many (owners) are tough on them, and if they can’t hunt, they’ll either turn them loose or shoot them,” Owens said, describing a hound dog he found at the county animal shelter that had survived being shot when the owner realized it wasn’t a good hunting dog.
The shelter was going to put the dog down since it was injured, but luckily for him and for so many others, The Dogfather was there to take him in and give him a second chance.
However, with the reward of saving dogs that wouldn’t otherwise make it comes a cost. It’s in the form of the 400 pounds of dry dog food, 120 cans of wet dog food and all the veterinary care those animals require every month.
“Our biggest problem is when you get dogs like that, that are classified as special needs, they are very hard to adopt out,” Owens said.
While Duke was lucky to find a place to take him in so quickly, most dogs spend months to years waiting for the right person to come along to adopt them — if anyone ever does. While they have a home at STAR Ranch as long as they need one, the organization has about 90 animals altogether in its care right now with all of the horses, dogs, cats and other farm animals that have been rescued included.
“It’s expensive to maintain right now,” Owens said, adding in addition to using his own social security funds to support The Dogfather, they depend on donations and grants to help with costs. “But grants are hard to find.”
However, regardless of the difficulties, it’s a job worth doing to the Owenses and their volunteers. It’s simply all about the animals.
“There’s no politics involved with the animals. There’s no Democrats or Republicans. They just know you. They’re always there, licking your hand or looking into your eyes,” Owens said. “There are no bad days with dogs.”
For information or to make a donation, call 400-0182 or visit www.star-ranch-rescue.com.