Buddha trotted over to me, his tail wagging. He nuzzled against my legs as I petted his soft, shiny coat. Buddha is a gorgeous pit bull; he is golden colored, his warm eyes rimmed by black fur resembling a thick application of eyeliner. Despite his infectious smile and cuddly ways, there is physical evidence of his brutal past — multiple scars pock his head, face, and front legs — reminders of his former life as a bait dog. But Buddha’s once tenuous life is now happy and secure thanks to Angela Adan, who adopted him from Shadow’s Fund last year.
Buddha isn’t the only pup thanking Adan these days. In February 2012, she founded Deserving Dogs Rescue and Rehabilitation (DDR), a nonprofit organization that does exactly what its title suggests. A lifetime animal lover, Adan spent nine years as a vet tech in Sonoma before relocating to the Central Coast two years ago. Once in Santa Barbara, she quickly became involved with several animal rescue organizations, working as a trainer for the Shadow’s Fund’s 2nd Chance Dog Program — which paired dogs with inmates who learned to feed, train, and care for them — and as a vet tech at DAWG. As such she was witness to the Sisyphean work being done by area rescues and shelters — which save hundreds of lives of unwanted pooches each year. However, for as many dogs who are saved, there are an equal to greater number who are euthanized in shelters outside Santa Barbara County.
Although Adan had mulled over the idea of starting a dog rescue for some time, it was a daunting notion. Then, while at Shadow’s Fund, she met a couple who happened to be motivational speakers. She told them of her dream. “Their advice was to take a leap and do it,” Adan said. And so she did, creating DDR and devoting herself to helping right the horrible ramifications of doggie overpopulation.
A one-woman show, Adan handles every aspect of business — from raising funds for vet bills to finding foster homes for the animals to collecting the dogs whose lives are threatened. “Every Tuesday are free pull days,” Adan explained. (“Pull” is the industry term referring to when animal rescue groups can take — or pull — dogs from a kill shelter for no cost.) “I go to Los Angeles and Camarillo and take as many as 20 dogs at a time.” Adan then brings the dogs to Santa Barbara, boarding them with folks who open their houses as foster homes. Adan also finds dogs in need through her Facebook page, often driving as far away as San Bernardino and Northern California to pick up dogs in need.
So far, Adan has saved and adopted out 90 dogs. It’s an arduous task regardless, but it’s made all the more difficult considering many of the four-leggeds she takes have medical problems and/or behavioral issues. “Medical bills run high as I tend to get special needs dogs,” Adan explained. “For example, one dog needed to have an eye removed. Another, a 10-year-old owner surrender named Faith had two bladder stones. She weighed four pounds when I got her. Now she is 10 pounds and has been adopted.”
Adan’s goal now is to raise enough funds to purchase property on which to establish a permanent sanctuary. “There was a house for sale in Lompoc for $800,000. It already had kennels built on the property,” Adan lamented. “I could save so many more dogs if I had the space.”
To learn more about Deserving Dogs Rescue, or to make a donation, call (707) 338-1764, email deservingdogs.org.