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Maryland Dog Magazine

From the Heart with Christine Sandberg & Rescue Well

Jan 24, 2015 09:06PM
From the Heart

Christine Sandberg & Rescue Well

Christine Sandberg is a longtime volunteer at BARCS and founder of Rescue Well. Rescue Well is a program run under ReLove Animals, Inc. (of which Christine is also the Vice President). ReLove Animals is a registered, federally-recognized non-profit organization.  ReLove's over-arching goal is to stem the flow of pets that enter the shelter system. Each Project under ReLove has a specific function and scope.  Christine decided to start Rescue Well, a boots-on-the-ground organization that maintains year-round presence in at-risk communities about 2 years ago after spending 6 years in "rescue" and realizing that as a rescue we can't advocate, rescue, spay/neuter, or adopt our way out of the animal crisis* we're in. I needed to try a different approach. (*crisis: violence, backyard breeding, neglect, abandonment, crowded shelters)

Christine’s approach with Rescue Well is to ENGAGE. EDUCATE. EMPOWER.  Rather than hand out flyers and preach, I developed a no-judgment approach for connecting with hard-to-reach communities:

Christine began going yard-by-yard in West Baltimore talking to people to learn more about the CA-- USE of crisis. I found common threads in the cause of crisis: lack of funds, lack of knowledge, lack of interest, lack of choices.

“Now, I help owners overcome and/or prevent crisis, by presenting choices, and empowering them to choose. We have seen through our experience that folks who make positive independent choices once, are likely to make them again” said Christine.

The Rescue Well community support group goes yard-by-yard in Baltimore’s most at-risk communities, where they put the Engage, Educate, and Empower model to work.  “We engage residents by showing an interest in their lifestyles, their perspectives, and issues. We educate one another: share what we know and see, and the residents do the same.  Learning is always a two way street. Finally, we empower residents to make choices, and we help them accomplish those choices. We believe that cultural change happens slowly, one resident and one choice at a time.”

The Community Wells program that Rescue Well offers helps pet owners who are in need of pet food and a supply pantry with supplies such as leashes or collars.

ReLove Animals, Inc recently received a Spay/Neuter grant through the Department of Agriculture, which will be offered in West Baltimore over the next 12 months.

Christine has chosen to focus on supporting BARCS because unlike “no kill” facilities, BARCS must accept every animal. BARCS receives an average of 12,000 animals per year – a staggering number considering the facility has space for roughly 20% of what comes in. The BARCS staff works closely with area rescues to transfer animals out, and they also have a strong volunteer and foster base. We couldn’t be more proud of the effort put forth by the staff and its volunteers every single day, and we are honored to support them.

We support BARCS by providing follow-up support for each adoption through making phone calls to answer questions, make home visits to check on pets and provide resources for training and veterinary care.

The intake area at BARCS offers a Rescue Well 24 hour Crisis/ “hotline” number which is offered as  support to Maryland residents.  The hotline receives about 600-900 calls per month.  Callers report neglect cases, abuse cases, and ask for assistance.

Rescue Well’s Placement Managers provide free re-homing assistance by marketing pets to potential adopters and rescue groups, and by providing initial screening and re-home advice.  They understand the decision to re-home a pet can be difficult and are here to help every step of the way.

A new Certified Transport Team for BARCS and partner rescue groups was established to help take animals to veterinary appointments and transfers to rescue facilities.

Rescue Well has just announced expanding their services into the Anne Arundel County area.

Christine and the volunteers at Rescue Well do not draw a salary or compensation of any kind.  Donations go directly to support the efforts on the front line.  Donations are tax deductible.

For additional information on Christine and Rescue Well visit