By Nancy Price
Leann Lawson is one busy lady. She’s solely operated a nonprofit, Leann’s Animal Rescue for the past six years and fosters animals while caring for her own. In addition, she is a pet sitter and dog walker to help with care and rehabilitation costs for animals with physical and behavioral health issues. All while keeping a spotless home.
Yet, the Center Grove resident knows exactly how many animals she’s rescued: 633 dogs, 143 cats and 64 other animals. “I still have contact with every one of them,” she said.
Lawson has been an animal lover for her entire life. She grew up with six cats and one dog: a chihuahua named Snoopy that lived to be 19. “Snoopy was temperamental and had bitten me a few times,” she recalled. “My parents would always get upset and threaten to get rid of him but never did. They taught me the true meaning of a forever furry companion and not to give up.”
AN ORGANIZATION CREATED BY ACCIDENT
However, she never intended to start a nonprofit rescue. “It was truly an accident,” Lawson said. “I have always worked in pharmacy. I came across a dog with a broken jaw and dislocated hips one day that had been severely beaten. I brought her home and brought her back to health. She has been in the same home since 2014.”
Lawson said “persistence, love and guidance” are keys to working with animals that may be deemed hopeless for adoption due to behavioral issues. “I’ve seen potential in several dogs who have gotten in dog fights and people think they are no longer good dogs,” she said. “I’ve rehabilitated them and after about 8 to 12 months have successfully placed them in homes. I have pulled several dogs from euthanasia that were deemed aggressive. In a shelter environment they sometimes can be. I just do my best to give them every chance they need.”
“Her compassion for these animals, determination, passion for the rescue, her hard work, incredible knowledge on the breeds of animals, especially the ‘pitties’ (pit bulls) is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Cassi Gibson, a volunteer. “I’ve seen her train the ‘untrainable’ and she finds them loving homes in the end. Is every story a love story? No. But she takes them back, keeps training them and will ultimately find them a forever home. Watching her work and run this rescue on her own is truly inspiring. She will help anyone, at any time, regardless of the day or time when she can.”
Fostered animals have a healthy diet with occasional treats, blankets and plenty of toys. Dogs are given ample time to run outside and chase balls. “I like to walk them to teach them not to pull and how to properly walk on a leash,” Lawson said.
The cost to adopt a pet from Leann’s Animal Rescue covers spay/neutering, vaccinations, microchip, a collar, leash, harness, dog tag with contact information, favorite toys, several weeks’ worth of food and full instructions on each dog’s needs.
Lawson also matches animals with specific needs with an adopter that can provide for them, as opposed to a “first come, first served” basis. “For instance, some need a fenced yard because they are a runner and terrible on a leash,” she said. “Or if they need to be the only animal in the home, I make sure people have a no-animal home. Some dogs are aggressive towards kids, so they need a home without kids. Some dogs are less active and are OK being walked with a leash while others need to run and roam.”
Lawson welcomes those who want to foster or volunteer with the rescue organization in addition to those willing to donate. For more information, go to leannsanimalrescue.com or the organization’s Facebook page.
RIDE FOR RESCUES
WHAT: Leann’s Animal Rescue is hosting a motorcycle fundraiser called Ride for Rescues (any type of vehicle is welcome, however). All proceeds go toward vet bills, training and food for rescues.
WHEN: July 11; registration starts at 9 a.m.; the ride begins at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: 31 Bar and Grill, 3131 Shelby St., Indianapolis, IN 46227.
COST: Pre-registration (the deadline is July 4) is $20 per person or $30 per couple. Registration at the gate is $25 per person or $35 per couple.
INFO: (317) 531-3799 or go to Facebook: Leeann’s Animal Rescue.