My Noble Paws

By Emily Halgrimson


Me and my four dogs: L to R Golden mix Dex, Beagle Penny, Pittbull mix Bean, and Chihuahua mix Max. All rescues, of course.

I got started in dog rescue about four years ago when I adopted my beagle, Penny. She was bought by a dog rescue at an Amish dog auction in Ohio, which is similar to  a machinery auction. Animals used for breeding are numbered and auctioned off to the highest bidder with selling points like “four healthy litters last year!” and “breed in demand!” The Amish are well despised in the rescue community for their treatment of dogs, which to them are akin to cattle. Penny’s feet were splayed wide and raw from the chicken wire she had lived her life on, and at five years old she was emaciated at only 16 pounds (she’s now a happy 40).

A year later, not long after my divorce had been finalized, I fostered Max, a small Chihuahua mix, for a local rescue group. After one week, I knew I had found my second dog. He and Penny bonded immediately and complimented each other. Plus, Max was a man-hater, which echoed my own feelings at that time of my life.

Now, three years later, I’m the Director of Happy Tails Rescue Inc. The rescue is run by all volunteers and has no shelter, instead using a network of wonderful foster homes that take care of the dogs.

An emaciated Pittbull I rescued this year from a hoarding case. It look a long time but he eventually found a great family. Wonderful, sweet dog.

Dog rescues act as go-betweens for dog shelters and the public. Shelters are over-run, under-staffed and have limited space, so when they become too full or have a dog that has sat too long, instead of euthanizing, a good shelter will reach out to local rescues to “pull” the dog. Rescues then take the dog straight to the vet for a thorough exam, a heartworm and fecal test, vaccinations, and make an appointment to have the dog altered (spayed or neutered). They find a screened foster-home to commit to caring for the dog until they find a “forever home.” Popular breeds can be adopted out in a week or two, but Pittbulls, Chihuahuas, seniors, and black colored dogs can take months and months to find homes for. A rescue like Happy Tails can handle 10-15 dogs at a time, depending on available funds for vetting and the elusive good, open foster home.

My dogs and my foster dogs watching me in the front yard.

It costs $150-$250 on average to vet a dog, and dogs are usually adopted out for around $200 — less if the dog is a senior, although a senior dog almost always costs a lot more to vet, with dentals and bloodwork. People often complain that adoption fees are too high, but they don’t understand that when they adopt a dog from a rescue they’re getting a fully vetted dog. If they were to do all that vetting themselves they’d spend much more than the adoption fee.

Sites like Craigslist and Facebook’s “Free Pet” Community are a bane to the dog rescuer. “Free” dogs can be scooped up by dog fighters or people selling dogs to research facilities. A dog rescue volunteer often feels like no matter how hard they work, how many dogs they pull, or how much money they collect from sitting for hours at weekly adoption events at Petsmart, they’re barely making a drop in the bucket. The supply of dogs in need never ends.

One of 14 Shih-tzus we helped rescue from a large rural breeder this year. This is what the parents of pet store dogs usually look like.

The need is so great, the way we throw out our senior dogs or our no-longer-cute-puppy 1-year-old hyper dogs, never ceases to amaze. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” said Mahatma Gandhi. We aren’t doing very well — over 20,000 animals are euthanized each week in the U.S., while we put on our blinders to the suffering we perpetuate and breed and buy and breed and buy.

The consensus in animal rescue is that the longer you do the work of saving animals, the more you dislike people. You’re continually confronted with the selfish and heartless side of people. We get calls for dogs burned with cigarettes, dogs hung up as training bait for dog fighting, dogs tossed out of car windows and over bridges, Mama’s with their newborn puppies on the street with ingrown collars, dogs that can’t walk because their nails have grown in circular from neglect, dogs without a single hair on them because the fleas have had their way so long, dogs that have been starved into complete skeletons, dogs that have their growth stunted because as they grew they never left their crate so their bones re-shaped. Every day there’s another case like this, another reason to cry over the suffering humans inflict.

Pregnant Oreo the day I brought her home from Animal Control

Two weeks ago, I was at a nearby city’s Animal Control on a late Friday afternoon and came across a very pregnant Chihuahua. The conditions of Animal Control vary city to city, but this was Halloween and in Northwest Indiana it was a blustery day. The kennels are made of concrete and have a heavy metal door that drops like a guillotine to separate the inside from the outside. The wind whistled under the door and the very pregnant Chihuahua was curled up in a small dog bed on the concrete floor. I said “crap” under my breath and knew I was in for a long weekend. I scooped her up and brought her home. No question, if Mama Chihuahua (who we named Oreo) had given birth there that weekend she and the pups would have died. Cold drafts are an enemy to puppies, and newborn Chihuahua puppies can fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. I didn’t need this new commitment as I already had a litter of six four-week-old Lab mix puppies I had sunk over $1300 in vet bills into, as two of them had developed serious pneumonia and were hospitalized for a week undergoing nebulizer treatments.

I settled in the poor old Mama, who had been found on the streets as a stray, at my house into a nice comfy crate with a bed, and she gobbled up two large bowls of wet puppy food. She was terrified, but not aggressive, and she flinched when I pet her. Not a sign of an easy life. I was shocked by how old she was — at least six or seven from look of her teeth and frail bones.

Mama Oreo with her five healthy baby girls born November 3, 2014

By Sunday night Mama had gone into labor, and Monday morning at 5:00 a.m. the first baby appeared, dry, feet first, and stuck tight. I knew immediately this was bad and I grabbed Oreo up, put her in the car, and rushed to the emergency vet only a mile or so from my house. The first baby hadn’t had a chance, but over the next five hours I waited in the waiting room while Mama Oreo had five healthy baby girls. A morning off of work and $350 later, we came home and settled Mama and the babies in. She’s a good Mom, and even the runt, who is half the size of the others, is hanging in there.

Every puppy (and Mama Oreo) will be completely vetted with checkups and vaccines, spayed, and microchipped. We will then screen adoptive homes for them through applications and vet reference checks, and do home visits for each puppy. Rescues are there to fix the problem of homeless pets, and do not want to leave any chance open that a dog in their care will contribute to the problem of unwanted litters or end up in a shelter. That’s why they’re so picky about choosing adoptive homes.

I want people to be aware that that gas chambers are still used in some states (like Michigan) to kill unwanted animals; puppies bought at pet stores have parents who will suffer horribly their whole lives; thousands of beagles are hooked up to breathing masks and piped in oven cleaners and other chemicals in labs until 50% die from the fumes;  and there are people out there care so deeply and feel the pain of these animals so palpably that they’re willing to sink their life savings into easing their suffering.

It’s a whole new world out there when your eye is on the four-legged creatures that look up at us with such love. “Think occasionally of the suffering which you spare yourself the sight,” said Albert Schweitzer.

Emily Halgrimson is Today’s Machining World’s Managing Editor and Marketing Manager. To support her “Noble Paws” please email her at

Question 1: Do you prefer animals to people?

Question 2: What is your noble cause?

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14 thoughts on “My Noble Paws

  1. Christina McKahan

    Emily so well said! And thank you for educating a new audience! More people need to be made aware that these bad situations still happen and just like any other form of abuse every single person has the power to make a difference, stand up and stop suffering and be conscious of decisions that effect others. We can’t save them all, but the one we save will change their life – and yours too.

    We have and had several rescue dogs in our home. They love you more than I can explain in words. And soon we will be open to accepting another dog into our home.

    We need more Emily’s in the world!

  2. Chip

    God bless you, Emily, for what you do. In corollary to your question # 1. The people I prefer tend to maintain a preference to animals

    Wife volunteers for Golden Retriever Rescue of LA. We have had a number of Rescues over the years and currently have 3 Goldens and one Chocolate lab. To Christina’s point above, somehow they know what you are doing for them! You can see it in there eyes. Despite the the extra work, the expense and sometimes immense heartache, that look is and will always be beyond all comparison.

    1. Emily

      Hi Chip, Nice to hear from a supportive husband. One of the main reasons people tell us they want to foster but can’t is unsupportive husbands.

  3. Lloyd Graff

    Emily, you educated me with this blog. I have never had a dog so this is a different world to me, but I admire your commitment and love for these discarded animals.

  4. Todd

    Question #1 – I value people over animals. But that doesn’t mean I hate animals.

    About 2 years ago my wife decided a rescue schnauzer would be a good idea. Wow, were we ever unprepared for this journey! I have never before experienced the damage done to a dog psychologically by keeping it in a cage and limiting its human interaction. It appears it was mistreated by men as it HATED my son and I. Life got so bad for a while I wondered if the conflict it caused in our family was really worth it, and for a while it honestly wasn’t worth it. I will never look at pet store dogs the same way again. Whenever the topic comes up I let people know what the cost is for pet store puppies.

    I can actually pet the dog now on occasion & I don’t get growled at every time I move or walk in a room anymore. It absolutely loves my wife. I bet it took months before the dog even showed any emotion when she was around.

    I am a hunter, have raised livestock that ended up in our freezer, have raised abandoned wild animals (and have the scars to prove it) and greatly prefer dogs over cats. I’m not an ASPCA supporter or in any of the “friends of the animals” groups, but I firmly believe it takes someone that can completely shut off your compassion to treat a dog the way these puppy mills do.

    These breeder dogs need rescued and cared for, just don’t think it will be easy. My wife would tell you it’s worth it – I’ll probably come around eventually too.

    1. Emily

      9 out of 10 rescue dogs adjust just fine. These situations give other rescue dogs a bad name, which is too bad. So many extremely lovable wonderful dogs in shelters.

  5. Double checking

    If you are stating that companies are using these gas testing methods to determine lethal doses please list the companies that are employing these techniques or labs. If you have proof of certain companies using these methods I’m certain some people would be willing to boycot them. Do you have names?

    1. Emily Halgrimson Post author

      This is probably the best place to start learning about it:

      Here is a no-nonsense explanation of animal testing from John Hopkins:

      This Web site, The Beagle Freedom Project, is a good place to start learning about beagle testing in particular. Although they work with labs to rescue beagles, so can’t be too critical without risking their relationships.

      Here is a video where some released lab beagles are let outside and into grass for the first time ever.

      Here is an app you can download to your phone called “Cruelty Cutter” that allows you to scan any item at the store and pull up their involvement in animal testing:

      Here is an up-to-date list of companies that do animal testing:

      I am not an investigative journalist, and the companies who’s products have been tested on animals are not dumb. You can’t look at a picture of beagles in a gas mask and say, “those beagles are inhaling Spot Shot Carpet Cleaner”. The companies have suppliers who hire labs to do the testing. So the company like PG’s Olay can say in their 1-page blurb on animal testing that “Regarding animal testing, we do not test our products on animals, nor do we ask suppliers to test them on our behalf. We do not test ingredients on animals, except in very rare cases when necessary to meet government-mandates or safety obligations. Olay is committed to continuing our contributions to ultimately permit the elimination of animal testing altogether. Read more about our ongoing efforts at”

      It’s not hard to do a little web browsing and see this is a hoax or exageration. Go to Google, type in “animal testing” and hit the “image” or “video” tab at the top of the page, if you have the stomach for it.

  6. Albert B. Albrecht

    First there are lot of cases where I prefer dogs over people – if everyone had the love a dog has for his master or mistress this world would be in a lot better shape.

    I have had five collies , the last three rescue collies. They adapt so well and are so appreciative when they realize they are in a good home and will be loved and cared for. Ashton the collie I have now was a champion and from a well known kennel. He is now adapting to being in a home and having his freedom and being loved. The breeders do not abuse their dogs, but are in it for the money, and do not give the love they deserve. A dog gives back ten times the love you give it. I am sure those that abuse a dog and those that do not care for them properly are on Gods list – and will get judged accordingly. I support several Collie rescue organizations and my congratulations to you for the work you are doing to foster and save the dogs you caring for

    1. Emily Halgrimson Post author

      That’s wonderful, Albert. Good for you for “going rescue” 🙂

      And I agree with you whole-heartedly, rescue dogs are truly grateful for a good home.

  7. Lloyd Graff

    Todd, not a manufacturing column but we cast a wide net. Emily has worked with us for more than six years and would be happy to help you with your marketing. She has this special knowledge about dog rescue and we took advantage of it to publish this piece.


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