Iowa was certainly a state that surprised us. Yes, some of what we thought was true. Expansive farmland, corn and other crops line the landscape almost everywhere you go. But there was also wonderful food, friendly people, hiking trails, bridges (made famous in some movies), sunsets and scenery that made us stop and appreciate life.
The rescue we picked to visit on our Adventure Of A Lifetime surprised us too. AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport in De Soto, Iowa was a wonderful breath of fresh air and humor that we so needed at this point in our trip. Animal rescue is overwhelming, but after visiting this rescue, we were refreshed to trek onward to the remaining states on our tour thanks to Amy Heinz who welcomed us with open arms!
AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport was founded in 2008 by Amy when she rescued a dumped and abandoned dog Grace, who meant nothing to the person who left her. She became everything to Amy and the inspiration behind this rescue. Amy graciously agreed to film the latest episode of Stop Hounding Me and we think you will agree that her laugh, exuberance and overall happiness made US happy we picked this rescue for Iowa.
What made AHeinz57 Pet Rescue And Transport stand out to us in Iowa? It had to be special, because we planned our route around them.
According to their website, “AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport, Inc. is a 501(c)3, non-profit, foster-based animal rescue organization, headquartered in De Soto, IA. We are a unique rescue organization in that we exist mainly to bridge the gap between traditional animal shelters and no-kill rescues in 2 different ways: 1) By providing free transportation for dogs from traditional shelters to no-kill rescues all over the Midwest and Canada. We also provide overnight rest stops for our furry travelers and temporary housing for those whose time has run out at the shelters, but have to wait for a foster spot to open up in one of the rescues; 2) By pulling dogs out of traditional shelters that are on death row and placing them in foster homes and forever homes thru our organization.”
We were in awe of what they do. So many animals in our nation’s overcrowded shelters simply run out of time before they can find a home. When many of these animals have run out of time, AHeinz57 bridges that gap literally between life and death.
According to their website, “Every day no-kill shelters monitor traditional shelters and do their best to pull dogs out before they are euthanized. Those that are lucky enough to dodge that bullet still need to get to no-kill shelters that have room for them. Most of the time, this requires transportation to another state. A transport coordinator blasts out emails to the transport network and volunteers sign up for various legs of the journey. We give them rides!” They have bright, attractive, happy transport vehicles that are equipped specifically for the safe transport of these dogs, and we were just so impressed at how functional, clean and professional they were!
Visiting the homey facility that Amy Heinz has started here which is a converted veterinarian office, we spoke with her and her mother June Heinz who has provided a life long example to Amy. I often ask animal rescuers if they were raised in a family that appreciated animals, or that provided an example to them in this regard. Amy’s mother explained that they have rescued animals since Amy was four years old, getting her a shelter dog. She happily related examples to me of dogs saved over the years and how this prepped them to open this rescue fully. To Amy, her mom is an inspiration to her. While Amy holds down a secular job to pay the bills, her mom helps take care of many dogs. Amy described her mom as an inspiration, but Amy’s mom herself beamed with pride at describing her daughter’s selfless commitment and unwavering determination to not only start a rescue, but to make it better and better.
Since they depend on many fosters, they would like to expand by having a larger facility and also a boarding service to help support the shelter. Plans are being made to build a new facility close by. This wasn’t accomplished overnight but with Amy’s inspiring business sense. Many rescues fall short between “dreaming” and “doing” due to lack of expertise and inexperience. Amy’s determination in this regard is something that should be followed by so many of our nation’s rescues. From a large social media presence to working with local businesses on fundraising, to events held and scheduled regularly, this takes work. This takes time. This takes love. And this takes a director like Amy with volunteers to help her. We applaud her and give her a standing ovation for the example she is providing.
We have to say that AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport was one of our favorite visits thus far on our Adventure Of A Lifetime. They were different in a way that is rare, and one that we could absolutely relate to. Handling not only the subject of animal rescue, but handling the daily obstacles and challenges with a sense of humor is key to the the success of Amy’s rescue. She explained, “We find the humor in this crazy, awful world of rescue. We don’t sit and feel bad for the dogs, because the day they come to us is the day their lives turn around! So we focus on the wagging tails and funny and sometimes bad behaviors that become very endearing to to us and make us laugh.” We certainly agree with their way of rescue. And Amy’s spirit inspired us to handle what we do better too! Some days it is easy to focus on the ones you could not help, or the ones you did help that were not saved in the end. But if we stopped because of that, how many more animals would die?
Amy realized this community needed a safe place for animals and she certainly provides that. Last year, AHeinz57 rescued over 2000 dogs. Initially working out of her garage, Amy found homes for 100 homeless dogs in their first year and now, AHeinz57 is one of the fastest growing no-kill rescues in Iowa.
One of the reasons this community supports their efforts so much, and a reason that touched our hearts was their care for injured animals. They are often the first call when an injured animal is found, called from vet offices and even other shelters. In fact, on the day we visited, they received a call about a dog that was hit by a car. The owners were found but did not want to claim this girl named Lily who is 3 years old and has been passed from home to home. They are determined to not only save her but finally find her a home she deserves.
AHeinz57 got her the care she needed, even though ranges for care were in the thousands. We wonder if Amy could have imagined the impact that starting her rescue in Iowa would have not only for local dogs but dogs throughout the country and Canada. We also wonder how these dogs would thank her, and we can only say it would be like Scrapper who Amy personally rescued on a trip to Mexico. We. Love. Her. And we love Scrapper too. Scrapper has been with AHeinz57 for over a year. Let’s get him adopted!
It would take us many, many articles to relate all the right things that AHeinz57 is doing. Their many volunteers and fosters are certainly valued. It takes a great amount of dedication and hours to transport these dogs every week, take care of their needs daily and to find homes for them. We know that this rescue will continue to do great things with their founder Amy and her mom June right behind her. We thank them for allowing us to visit and learn more about them. It is our hopes that not only their immediate community, but the entire community of animal rescuers in our country will get behind their efforts and learn from them.
Check out many of their adoptables, and learn how you can get involved and help below. Let AHeinz57 also inspire you to help in your community too.
Your tax deductible gift to AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport will help to ensure that many homeless companion animals receive the medical care they need, as well as a chance to be adopted into a safe and forever home.