Jax — a 1-year-old Labrador mix — is living happily with a foster family on Silt Mesa, where he has two acres to run and play with two other dogs and he is provided with plenty of nutrition and affection.
Several months ago, however, Jax was living on a short chain in Tennessee, where he wasn’t provided with shelter, exercise or food or water bowls. He was malnourished, weighing roughly 57 pounds when he should have been closer to 80, and tick-borne infections were endangering his health.
When neighbors became aware of the dog’s situation, they worked to relocate him to a friend’s home a few hours away. Shortly after, though, Jax was in a similar situation of neglect.
After that, a local shelter took him in, at which point the Lucky Day Animal Rescue Program, based out of the Roaring Fork Valley, stepped in.
Roughly $1,000 later, Jax has found his way to the home of Joyce and Dennis Webb on Silt Mesa, where the couple has nursed the dog back to health while providing a temporary home.
The Lucky Day program paid for all of Jax’s veterinary needs, as well as a travel kennel and airfare to transport him to Colorado.
“He couldn’t be a sweeter dog; he just wants to love,” Joyce Webb said of Jax. “He’s so affectionate, and he’s just a super good dog.”
The Lucky Day Animal Rescue program began in November 2011, when co-founders Rachel Hahn and Katie Solondz began assembling volunteers and a board of directors. Since then, the organization has rescued more than 100 animals, primarily dogs, from across the country.
“We rescue animals in high-kill shelters in Colorado and neighboring states, and we rescue animals living in neglected or abusive situations and bring them to Colorado,” Hahn said. “We’ve rescued dogs from all around Colorado, as well as Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Oklahoma and Tennessee.”
The program is foster-based, meaning there is no actual animal shelter. When the organization rescues a dog, it places the animal in a local home, where the residents have volunteered to care for it until a permanent home can be found.
“What’s beneficial about fostering is that you get a true gauge of how the dog behaves in a home,” Hahn explained. “A lot of behavior, whether good or bad, doesn’t show up until they’re in a home, so it’s a more accurate description of the dog.”
According to Hahn, there are usually around 10 foster homes operating at any given time in the valley.
“We can only bring in as many animals as we have homes for,” she explained. “We are always in need of foster homes and donations.”
As a nonprofit, Lucky Day Animal Rescue is funded solely by fundraisers and donations. Everyone involved in the organization is an unpaid volunteer, with all proceeds directly benefiting the rescued animals.
While Jax’s rescue cost close to $1,000, Hahn said the average amount is closer to $300 for vetting and transportation. However, adoption fees ($175 for adult dogs and $225 for puppies) cover only a portion of those expenditures, so a great deal of money must be raised for each rescue.
Jax, now returning to a healthy condition, is in the search for a permanent home, as are nine other Lucky Day rescues. The organization’s policy is an in-depth screening process for finding homes for each animal in order to ensure happiness on both ends — the animal’s and the person’s.
“We like the way Lucky Day goes one step further in finding the right home for the dog,” said Webb, who owns two other dogs that came from Lucky Day rescues. “They’re not there for you; they’re there for the dog.”
Hahn explained that potential adopters must fill out an online application, after which they are interviewed in person. A meet-and-greet with the dog follows and, if both sides are happy, Lucky Day arranges a home check, a reference check and a veterinary reference check.
“There are so many animals in need out there,” Hahn said. “While I can’t save them all, it feels good to be able to save some of them. The joy of pulling an animal that’s about to be euthanized and finding a good home for it — there’s nothing better for me. We couldn’t do it without our board, our volunteers, our fosters and our donors.”