Adopt, don’t shop!
With the help of his wife, Blake, and their three sons — Jake, 14, Kemp, 13, and Dutch, 10 — the family of five has transformed their home into a full-on dog rescue center. Taking in stray dogs from around the Phoenix area and providing them with medical attention, shelter and food, the Van Es family is dedicated to finding forever homes for their furry friends.
“Rescuing dogs is something my wife and I have done pretty much our whole marriage,” Van Es, 48, tells PEOPLE.
Creating his own dog rescue foundation, #LovePup, in 2015, Van Es explains how the whole idea came about, the process of finding homes for the dogs and how many fur babies he and his family taken in and saved.
After finding an abandoned Chihuahua one day, the radio host posted a photo of the dog on his Instagram account, hoping someone would claim the pup.
“So the next morning I went on the air to share that I had found a home for the dog, and the next thing you know I had all these people reaching out to me saying, ‘I found this stray dog,’ or ‘I’m moving and can’t take my dog,’ before you know it, I had all of these dogs,” he says. “I would post pictures of them up on my Instagram and I would find homes for them right away. It just started evolving from that. It was never a burden. It was always fun and passionate and organic and real.”
“We’ll take any dog,” says Van Es. “Every dog deserves to find love.”
The Phoenix native strongly believes in the power of social media, and uses it as a means to find the absolute perfect family.
“Traditionally, a rescue goes and they go to someone’s house and see if they’re good people to take the dog,” explains Van Es. “With me, I go to their social media and I scroll through their life. I can tell if they’re party animals, bad people — if I don’t like what I see, then they don’t get the dog. It really works really well.”
With the support from his rockstar family, Van Es says a big reason for starting the foundation is his sons.
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“I love seeing my boys love animals,” he says. “We’re a very loving family – we hug each other and kiss other and I love seeing the animals kiss them back. I also love seeing them let go of love. When they watch puppies be born, they feed them, they love them, they take them for walks and then they help me pick out the homes for them. They watch the puppies go to their new homes and we get updates from their families to see how happy they are. I feel like it helps them to grow up to be well-rounded young men, in my own little way. That’s just my way of trying to be a good father and help my kids to grow up to be men with morals and integrity.”
As far as #LovePup’s future? The Van Es family has big plans!
“I have all these people that want to volunteer but I don’t have the money to fund anything yet,” he says. “It would be great to get to the point where, I’d like to have a building and have a staff. I’d like to have a ‘no kill’ policy. I want to save as many dogs as I can. I would like there to be a #LovePup chapter in every city. I just need the proper funding. I think it can happen!”