October is Adopt-a-Dog Month so we sat down with the founder of one of our favorite local dog rescues, Love at First Mutt. Marina Russo gave us the scoop on what they’re all about.
Tell us a little about your background with animals and how you came up with the idea for Love at First Mutt?
I have always been a passionate lover of all creatures, and fascinated with all kinds of animals growing up. I began volunteering at local rescues when I was 12 years old and quickly learned about the devastating shelter epidemic. I knew that somehow I had to help this growing number of perfectly adoptable dogs and cats. I worked restaurant jobs to get through college, but I always knew my heart was in rescue.
My main goal is to change the way people think about adoption and to raise awareness through educating the public about the importance of spay/neuter, fostering/adopting and especially to create an honest & positive image of bully breeds. In pursuit of my passion, I believe that we can all make a difference, one person at a time, one dog at a time.
Was there a specific dog or rescue situation that made you decide to start LAFM?
After adopting our first rescue dog Mia, I wanted to bring the same joy that she brings me to other people’s lives. I wanted to make a difference in the way that people view bully type breeds. I also really wanted to show people that they can rescue any type of dog they wanted, purebred, puppy, older, hypoallergenic, etc. as long as they were patient.
How does LAFM stand out from other rescues?
We are a small foster based rescue made up of only 3 volunteers and are always looking for new fosters. Being a small group of enthusiastic volunteers we are all happy to help our new adoptive and foster families any step of the journey. We keep in touch with all the dogs we have helped mostly through the adoptive families’ instagrams. We love watching them grow and develop, knowing where they came from and where they are now is such a rewarding experience time and time again. Adoptive families will reach out months after asking for training tips or different service recommendations, years after with photo updates and always loving stories.
How do you find the dogs at LAFM?
We have always rescued dogs from local shelters, city and county shelters in Los Angeles. We also accept some owner surrenders on a case by case basis. When the pandemic hit, Los Angeles shelters closed and stopped allowing rescues to go inside. Right when the pandemic hit, another Los Angeles rescue asked us if we could help take a few dogs they were getting in from Mexico, and we said YES!
We then started working with a couple shelters in Ensenada and Tijuana Mexico. We fell in love with our Mexi-Mutts! We learned that the Mexico shelter problem is worse than we could ever imagine and they really need our help. We have continued to work with our rescue partners and now get dogs from both Mexico and Los Angeles.
Please tell us one of your favorite rescue stories.
It would be impossible to pick just one, recently with some of the rescue dogs we have been able to bring up from Mexico we typically do not know much about their backstories other than it most likely wasn’t an ideal living situation. We see dogs that were found tied to garage piles or a litter of puppies found in a field to living their absolute best lives, riding in backpacks on bicycle rides through Venice Beach or running wild on Carmel Beach; we love seeing their travels all over.
What is LAFM’s mission?
A love for animals and a dream coming true. Love At First Mutt was founded in September of 2018. Love At First Mutt is a Los Angeles County based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We are an all volunteer and foster home based rescue. We are dedicated to saving homeless and abandoned dogs from the overcrowded animal shelters. Overcrowding and overpopulation in shelters leads to euthanizing millions of friendly and healthy pets every year. We want to better the lives of the animals in our community by educating the public on ways to stop animal cruelty and to promote spaying/neutering of dogs/cats to reduce pet overpopulation.
What goals do you have for LAFM future?
We always want to increase our number of adoptions since there are an endless number of dogs in need of homes but one of the things we would like to do in the future is more education about the issue itself. Education to the general public is one of the most important issues in slowing down the numbers of this epidemic & opening up an adoption center!
How can we help?
We appreciate all kinds of support from donations to volunteers. Learn more on our website.
*Matching 100% of donations that mention us up to a total of $2,500