There are the people who dump their pets in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, or toss them out their car window, or lock them in an abandoned home never to return.
Then there are people like Molly Wootton, whose L.A.-based rescue Molly’s Mutts & Meows scoops the frightened animals up and gives them food, shelter and medical care in their time of need.
Unlike many other rescues, Wootton accepts all breeds of animals – from mutts to pit bulls to purebred poodles. Instead of confining them to kennels, she pulls most of the dogs and cats from local shelters and puts them in a foster home of one of her 50 active volunteers while they await adoption.
“The rescues I knew that did foster homes were mostly purebred rescues, like for collies or Persian [cats],” says Wootton, who founded the nonprofit group three years ago. “I didn’t know of any that just took dogs, or just took cats, which is why we’re called ‘mutts and meows’: We are breed-agnostic – we don’t discriminate.”
Wootton believes fostering increases a pet’s chances of finding a perfect home. Mutts & Meows has placed 300-plus animals – the majority saved from “death row” in high-kill shelters – in “forever homes” to date.
“You can tell so much more about a dog or a cat if they’re in a home,” says Wootton. “If you can give the [adoptive families] as much information as possible, you can prepare them to succeed in a new home. If there’s anything that scares a person from adopting, it’s the unknown.”
And animals with disabilities, injuries or illnesses will always be treated despite their sometimes high veterinatrian bills. Take the case of a litter of kittens pulled from an L.A. high-kill shelter and quickly named after the four Sex and the City women – Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Miranda, it turned out, was not well. “During the exam they felt the heart, and they went to a cardiologist [who said] she’s got this issue, and therein lies the $4,000 surgery,” says Wootton. “What do you say to that? You beg for money.”
With several animals needing expensive treatments recently, Molly Mutt’s & Meows has stepped up fund-raising efforts. Along with sporadic individual donations and a recent grant from Pedigree, Wootton has turned to her network since even the tiniest of donations can add up to helping to pay for a hefty vet fee. A recent beneficiary was Wilbur, a little dog with a big eye problem. After a $2,500 eye surgery, he found his forever home and is chilling with his new family in Las Vegas.
Some dogs are adopted quickly, while others, like Stan, a “sweet, cuddly” black Labrador, have spent more than a year looking for the right family. “Until society stops the leak by spaying and neutering, microchipping pets, not overbreeding, and [stopping] puppy mills, we’re never going to get rid of this problem entirely,” says Wootton.
Despite her day job as L.A. advertising manager at Cooking Light magazine, Wootton manages to run the rescue while fostering several animals herself (see Chelsea, pictured) – and footing some of the bills with her own money.
So, what keeps her going? “There are some days where I’m in the park at our adoption days, and I look at the 50 animals that collectively the rescue has saved,” says Wootton. “It’s pretty powerful.”
Click here to become friends with Molly Wootton on PEOPLE Pets.
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