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September 7, 2017 The Hesston RecordSeptember 7, 2017 The Hesston Record

Local Rescuer Saving Dogs One Foster At A Time

Posted 4/13/2017

Record Staff

While 101 Dalmatians may be a work of fiction, Dana Stahl, one of the charter members of Heartstrings Animal Advocates, has had a revolving door of over 100 dogs looking for forever homes.

Stahl, a foster volunteer for dogs, said she has been passionate about animal advocacy and welfare since she was a child.  As an adult, she began fostering dogs for Caring Hands Humane Society and helped the organization achieve no-kill status in 2016 for the first time in the organization’s history with an over 90 percent save rate.

“I fostered for Caring Hands for almost five years.  I got a job down by the shelter and I started going there on my lunch break to walk dogs,” she said.

While at Caring Hands, Stahl met a dog that would change her life - a white mixed breed.

“She was a basket case. She had been at the shelter for months. She was so wild when you got her out. I knew she would never reach her potential at the shelter. She was my first foster and she was the most challenging one I have had,” said Stahl.

Despite the difficulties, Stahl persevered and continued taking in even the most difficult dogs.

“There is such a need. You see dogs in shelters, they’re on death row and then you take them home and they are wonderful and loving; all they need is a chance,” she said.

As Stahl became more involved in the world of animal rescue, she learned there are several regulations regarding finding permanent homes and saving lives.

“To take a dog from a shelter that is on the euthanize list, you can’t be a direct adopter. You have to be a rescue organization,” she said.

From that, Heartstrings was born.  In its six months as a certified rescue organization and achieving its 501c3 status, Heartstrings has saved over 100 dogs. Stahl said one of the most unique aspects of Heartstrings is it is entirely foster-family based with no central location where dogs are warehoused, unlike a traditional rescue organization.

“The majority of our dogs are in the Wichita area,” she said.

From a financial perspective, having an all-volunteer based network of foster homes allows all of the money raised to be used for the care of dogs and cats that under Heartstrings’ care.

“The donated dollars are going to the animals. None of us get paid, and we don’t want to be,” she said.