Puppy Love: Missing Linck Makes Forever Friends Connection

by Nathan Oravec

“Every time a person buys a dog from a breeder, a homeless dog dies,” says Ronda Linck of Missing Linck Rescue, a Hagerstown-based non-profit dedicated to finding, fostering and placing homeless dogs with loving families. “We get about 800 e-mails a day - posts from [various shelters] - and, basically, written on the subject line is the breed of the dog and date and time of death.”

“Fifty eight thousand, three hundred and fifty homeless dogs were listed just this morning,” she adds. A large number of these dogs will, undoubtedly, be euthanized.

Missing Linck exists to bring these statistics down, if only a dog at a time.

A former employee of a Maltese rescue, Ronda soon realized how many other breeds of dogs were dying as a result of overpopulation due to a lack of community awareness and education. A lifetime animal lover, she and husband Rob soon made the decision to launch a rescue of their own. A true family affair, Missing Linck - “connecting homeless pets with forever homes” - began in October of 2001 in the couple’s home.

Specific to puppies 12 weeks and under (initially the most feasible option due to the Lincks’ eight family dogs), Missing Linck rescues from shelters and individuals with pets who are no longer able to care for them. Temporary shelter is provided via a network of approximately 24 foster homes throughout Maryland until a puppy can be placed in a permanent residence. Volunteers themselves, these homes are screened first to assure a healthy, safe living environment. Current family pets must also have updated vaccinations and shots. Missing Linck contacts regular fosters with lists of new animals, while foster homes and families can also check the organization’s web site - www.missinglinckrescue.com - for homeless dogs in need of shelter. “They treat the puppies as their personal pets until we can find them forever homes.”

Rose Cloughley serves as a foster mother for Missing Linck. Foster homes, she says, can have dogs anywhere from one to five weeks, but puppies are usually adopted rather quickly - the Labrador pups she recently picked up on a Saturday were placed with families the following Wednesday. Cloughley picked up a Siberian Husky pup and a Beagle to baby-sit that same night.

“They rescue a lot of dogs,” Cloughley says about Missing Linck. “I know they dedicate a lot of [time and effort]. It must exhaust them financially. Ronda also does a lot of traveling - I think last weekend she drove thirteen hours to pick up dogs.” As for Cloughley, who discovered Missing Linck when a friend was searching for a puppy, volunteering as a foster parent is a great deal. “Who doesn’t love having puppies in their house for a few days?”

All of Missing Linck’s puppies are posted on the rescue’s web site, via petfinder.com, with an on-line application available for those interested in adoption. A number of criteria have to be met by potential applicants. In addition to updated shots and a clear record with no prior cruelty charges, all pets, says Ronda, are to be kept inside - and, most importantly, considered family members.

Most of the puppies that Missing Linck rescues, says Ronda, come from out of state - with shelters in both West Virginia and North Carolina, as well as from local individuals. “If a dog gets pregnant,” Rob says, “its owner can bring the puppies to us.” A large number of adoptions are also made out-of-state, with Missing Linck having placed dogs everywhere from North Carolina to Boston.

While the organization, currently, operates primarily as a puppy-rescue, having saved and placed over 800 in over a year, Missing Linck has helped find homes for adult dogs as well, working closely with a large network of fellow rescue organizations, transporting the animals when necessary.

As the rescue grows, it is hoped, says Ronda, that Missing Linck will have the capacity to accept older dogs. The vision, she says, is to create a no-kill facility within two years, as well as to launch educational programs for the public, teaching on topics such as responsible pet ownership, pet CPR, and the importance of spay and neutering. “We want to start a spay and neutering program,” explains Ronda, “in which we’d work with local veterinarians and provide funding for those who cannot afford [to pay for the procedure.]”

“We encourage those who cannot afford to spay and neuter their dogs to contact us,” she urges, noting that the rescue will collaborate with pet owners and its various contacts to work something out. “It’s just senseless for dogs to die.”

A non-profit organization, Missing Linck is funded solely by adoption donations and the donations from the public to continue its work. Volunteers are also always in high demand, to help with any number of duties, from transportation to baby-sitting puppies, as well as clerical responsibilities.

Missing Linck’s network, notes Rob, is growing every day. The rescue hopes to hold a summer event - a picnic - that will serve as a family reunion for clients and their dogs. Similarly, a dog pageant will hopefully be held next June - with categories such as Hollywood look-a-likes - for fun, as well as to raise awareness of the organization’s purpose.

“All of my life I’ve been an animal lover,” says Ronda about her history in the field. Rob, too, has always been a dog person. “I had a dog when I when I was a kid, with my brothers, and it was always with us. A dog is a great companion,” he says. “It changes your life. The biggest complaint you’ll ever get out of a dog is him wanting to be with you. And that’s not a bad thing.”

“It’s that unconditional love,” adds Ronda. “There’s nothing like it.”

For more information on Missing Linck Rescue, 44 North Potomac Street, Suite 105 in Hagerstown, call 301-766-9663 or e-mail ronda@missinglinckrescue.com. Visit www.missinglinckrescue.com.