Small Teams can do BIG Things.
JOHN THOMAS, FOUNDER
1959, with 'Dardo'.
JOHN THOMAS, FOUNDER
2022, with 'Winston'.
Not pictured: Pebbles, Sam, Morrison, Twiggy and Max.
It all started...
On a cold 40-degree November morning in 2010, when I unexpectedly observed a skinny light brown dog, huddled on the bank of a retention pond located behind my house. He'd obviously slept next to the warmer pond water the night before, in an attempt to stay warm. He was a timid and very wary boy. On day 1, when I called to him, he wouldn't venture closer than about 50 feet from me. Then, on day 2, he got more curious and came a little closer. By day 4, he come close enough for me to touch him, then gently grasp him by the clasp on his harness. He was a mess. Covered head to foot in dirt, fleas and ticks, sporting an ill-fitting puppy-size harness that had literally begun to embed into his skin. Now, I already had 2 'rescue' dogs living in my house, and was in NO way planning to add another. But upon spotting this skinny brown dog with piercing eyes, it triggered something in me. It was clear that he was choosing me, or more accurately 'me and my 2 dogs', and that I would be welcoming a new member to my family.
Over the coming days and weeks, I'd come to learn that 'Sam' had run away from his prior adopter's home (located 3 miles from my house) in early July. He'd essentially been roaming the streets and neighborhoods, scavenging and scrounging, surviving on his own for over 5 months. After 4 harrowing weeks of navigating several hurdles (a long story), I finally + permanently welcomed this sweet 8-month old boy into my home the first week December. Sam had become a member of my family, and I still can't imagine a day without him.
Meeting Sam also opened my eyes to the world of dog rescue. I had always been a 'fan' of dogs. As a child I grew up with dogs, specifically Boxers, which my mom bred and showed. As an adult, I typically had at least one rescue dog in my household, and was vaguely familiar with the work undertaken by rescue organizations to address the overpopulation of at-risk shelter dogs in my area of the country (the South). After navigating the rescue/adoption system as an advocate for Sam, and learning that 40,000+ dogs were euthanized in NC shelters alone in 2010, there was no way I could be a passive observer any longer. Caring had to become DOING. But, unfortunately, I had no 'grand plan'. Initially, I just began sponsoring rescued 'at risk' dogs out-of-pocket. Wanting to scale my efforts to help save more dogs, in 2015, I formed SAVEDOG Project, Inc. as a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue transporter/relocator of abandoned, at-risk dogs. I sold my 'big ego' boat and purchased a new 2015 Mercedes Extended Sprinter Van and outfitted it with a custom, climate-controlled system of stainless steel cages that would provide us with the capacity to safely transport 25-30 adult dogs at a time. In late December 2016, we ran our first official transport of 13 rescue dogs. No turning back, it was game on.