MALVERN — People across the Greater Philadelphia Region, including veterinarians in Chester County, are rising up to help abandoned pups find their forever homes.
However, the path of a non-profit rescuer is often troublesome. Charitable work is dependent on donations from people who care. And still, anything can happen.
Christine Risley is the president of The Rescue Express, founded in 2010, based in Media. The nonprofit has rescued thousands of dogs since its inception specializing in saving dogs from high-euthanasia shelters in the South.
When the nonprofit saves unwanted dogs to Southeastern Pennsylvania, The Rescue Express works with Malvern Veterinary Hospital in Chester County to treat the pups for any medical ailments.
Malvern Veterinary Hospital, owned by veterinarian Joseph Hyduke, is the nonprofit’s primary rescue vet clinic, Risley said, adding, "They are wonderful." The veterinary practice is based in East Whiteland Township.
The Rescue Express also works with fellow Chester County businesses VRC Malvern and Hope Veterinary Specialists, both Chesco practices are also based in East Whiteland.
Risley said she works closely with fellow volunteer Patti Bentivegna, who serves as the vice president of The Rescue Express.
A few days after Independence Day, on July 10, The Rescue Express transported a litter of seven puppies from Georgia. Tragically, they fell ill with parvovirus and began fighting for their lives.
“We have already spent over $30,000 and desperately need donations to help with these catastrophic costs,” Risley said.
Four of the puppies have perished despite the nonprofit sparing no expense to provide them with the best medical treatment possible.
Three puppies have survived and Risley said they should be ready for adoption in three weeks after shedding from parvovirus has been eliminated from their bodies completely.
The surviving pups are two boys and a girl. The boys have been released from the hospital but their sister is still in recovery. John Middleton and his wife, Carol, are fostering the brother survivors presently.
Three weeks ago, Risley said Kim Wright, who lives in Georgia, called her to share that a litter of puppies had been dumped off in the woods by her home. The Rescue Express swiftly took action to help them.
However, once they arrived and rescuers realized they were suffering from parvo, the medical bills to treat them spiked up dramatically, now over $30,000.
Risley said these puppies were particularly susceptible to parvo as they were taken away from their mother at such a young age. A mother’s milk helps to provide little ones with immunity.
“It’s devastating,” Risley said.
This year The Rescue Express, with fans and supporters from across the Greater Philadelphia Region supporting the charity’s mission, has rescued more than 200 dogs, Risley said. During the pandemic in 2020, the nonprofit rescued more than 300 dogs.
Bringing the seven puppies this July to get critical care treatment when it was clear was the only way the puppies had any chance of surviving.
“We probably spent over $7,000 per puppy,” Risley said. They are eight or nine weeks old.
“Rescues are already stressed to the max right now because this post-pandemic means people are back to work and traveling and fostering is down,” Risley said.
Also, people are returning dogs to shelters that they had gotten during the pandemic, she said. Risley is a resident of Philadelphia.
“This is a really critical time for rescues,” Risley said.
“We desperately need donations so we can continue saving lives in desperate situations,” Risley said.
She said people can also help by fostering and volunteering.
"We are their voice," Risley said. "We are the voice for the voiceless. These animals bring us so much joy and compassion, we feel we need to give that back."
The nonprofit, founded by Ann Crumb, a Broadway singer who has since passed away, also provides behavioral support to rescued dogs besides emergency medical care.
Risley added these dogs are innocent and provide the gift of unconditional love.
Malvern Veterinary Hospital owner Joseph Hyduke concurred.
Addressing rescuers, Hyduke said: "Don't give up."
To support the cause, visit: www.therescueexpress.org or https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-us-save-puppy-ava-siblings.