Top of the Morning, June 21, 2014

Top of the Morning, June 21, 2014

This weekend's fundraiser for a local dog rescue operation goes by a fun name — "Yappy Hour" — but has serious consequences.

"It's going to make or break us going forward," Mobile Mutts coordinator Marion Stevens said. "It means everything."

Mobile Mutts recently celebrated its 2,000th "passenger" at a ceremony in Champaign. No. 2,000 is in the picture here, wearing a bandana and a sheepish look. "She didn't understand why she was such a celebrity," Stevens said.

Mobile Mutts takes in death-row dogs from shelter euthanasia lists and tries to line up owners. It can be "heartbreaking," Stevens said, but also rewarding. "We are hellbent and determined to do more," she said.

Sunday's event — 1 to 4 p.m. at Clark Bar in Champaign — will include dogs up for rescue (silent auction). And dogs dressed like Elvis (costume contest). Even dogs posing for the camera. "People love putting their pets on Christmas cards," Stevens said.

The party's open to man's best friend — rescued or not. Maybe No. 2,000 will make a guest appearance.

"We celebrate that dog each and every day," Stevens said. "The number is important in that it represents that we're making a difference."

A Q&A with Mobile Mutts coordinator Marion Stevens:

Explain "passenger" and what reaching 2,000 means?

One of the nicknames Mobile Mutts was given back when we first started was the "Underdog Railway." Our passengers on the Railway are the "furkids" who get on board to ride with us to the safety of their rescues. Reaching our 2,000th passenger back in April gave all of our volunteers a tremendous feeling that we were making a difference in the lives of death row dogs sitting in shelters, but also gave us a sobering reminder that until people's mindset changes, and laws are toughened up, the battle is still ongoing.

In 10 words or less, define "Mobile Mutts:"

Dedicated animal rights advocates committed to saving death row dogs

What kind of dogs are you rescuing?

We do all breed rescue, not breed specific. We are blessed to work with a network of trusted rescue partners, who are able to accept dogs into their foster-based rescue programs. Sadly, no matter how hard we work, we are not able to save all of the dogs on death row in shelters.

Where did your passion develop?

Public service was expected growing up in my household. My interest in rescue developed over the years but began when I was 17 and has steadfastly increased the more involved I got. It's become a lifestyle. One of the phrases often heard in my house is "Rescue isn't what we do, it's who we are."

How many people locally are involved?

Locally (in central Illinois) we have over 200 volunteers who work with us at various times. Some faces are there every week, some a few times a year. Volunteers need to be screened and approved.

How many rescued dogs have found homes?

Our adoption success rate is right at 98 percent.

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