My name is Ashley Owen Hill, and I am an animal rescuer. I was born an animal rescuer. It is truly my purpose in life. I have my own animal rescue group, Lucky Dog Rescue, in Meridian, Mississippi. Lucky Dog Rescue is focused on saving dogs from death row, abuse cases, and those who are sick. I write about my rescue experiences on my blog, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog.
I was asked to share my story, in hopes that it may inspire someone to get involved in my mission: saving the world, one dog at a time.
I have been rescuing dogs since I was a little girl. As early as 5 years old, I began taking in stray dogs and cats and finding them homes. Many of my rescues found their forever home with my family. I volunteered at the local Animal Control as a child, and I would beg my parents to take me every day after school to play with the dogs at the pound. Several of our family pets were death row babies from the shelter. So as a child, I decided to dedicate my life to saving animals, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.
My entire life has been dedicated to saving the dogs that have been forgotten by the rest of the world. I look into their eyes, and I see pain, fear, and despair. But those same eyes convey dreams, love, and hope. This heartbreaking and beautiful mix of emotion is why I fight every day to save the most incredible creature on this earth—the dog. Others see their pain and look away. I choose to look more closely, to see them, and to take action.
Much of my rescue work takes place in shelters. On each trip to the pound, I kneel down next to each of the dogs; I rub their heads. I notice them. Most of these dogs have never been “noticed” a day in their life. While potential adopters go to the cages with the cutest puppies, I head toward the cages with the forgotten souls. The pit bulls. The abused. The terminally ill. The ones deemed “Unadoptable.”
I head for death row.
When I walk death row, I know that most of these dogs will never make it out alive. I know that my rescue space is limited, and foster homes are few and far between. And I know the consequence when these dogs have nowhere else to go. Their lives, are the consequence. My heart breaks, because so many dogs within these walls have never known love, and likely never will. So many have been beaten, starved, and neglected all their lives, and will never know otherwise. So many have only dreamed about having a family, and will never go home.
And so, I stop, at each cage, and say, “I love you, and you matter.” I reach out a caring hand. Press my face against the gate to offer a kiss. I replace their numbers with names. I study their faces, as to never forget that this precious being once lived. I burn their existence into my memory, so that their life was acknowledged by someone. And on my next visit, I notice when they are gone… and I know that they’ve joined my Rudy in Heaven…
Every chance I get, I take one with me. I usually take them on the very day their time runs out. I pull them from death’s door, right into my heart, and I give them a second chance. On that day, the day they are meant to die… instead, their life begins.
I take them into my home as a foster dog, and for a short time, call them my own. But in my heart, they will always be mine. I nurture them, love them, and teach them. I show them what life is meant to be, as to prepare them for the rest of their journey… their journey to a family who will treasure them forever…
I am the bridge between the forgotten and the remembered. I am the link from despair to hope. For these dogs, I am love. I am happiness. I am safety. For a short time, I am everything to them.
Although they will one day leave me for a family of their own, they will stay in my heart for as long as I live. And as one of my rescue children leaves me for their new home, another waits on death row for me to arrive. And when I arrive, another life is saved. Another soul is remembered. Another spirit joins the living.
And we walk out into the sunlight of a new life…
In sharing my story, my goal is to inspire others to get involved… to make “Your Story” matter. If you’ve never rescued, fostered, or adopted a dog, you’re missing out on the experience of a lifetime. When I walk by the cages at the pound, I see the most amazing dogs… waiting to die. These dogs are beautiful. They are smart. They are loving, and deserving, and special. And yet, they are killed in shelters every day, because no one steps-up to foster or adopt them.
Many of these shelter dogs are purebreds. While people spend hundreds of dollars to buy these very breeds from breeders and pet shops, thousands of purebred puppies and adult dogs are dying in shelters each day. If you’re looking for a specific breed, shelters and rescue groups have so many incredible purebreds for adoption. In addition, there are breed rescue groups for almost every breed of dog, with gorgeous purebreds of all ages available for adoption. When you adopt a purebred dog instead of buying one… you will save a life. Thus, you can use “Your Story” to give “Their Story” a happy ending.
Mixed breed or purebred, all shelter dogs deserve homes. They need love. They need protection. They need hope. Please, save a life. They are waiting for you, & they don’t have much time…