DARKE COUNTY - BARK Animal Rescue, Inc. was born of a casual conversation and an idea between friends Carla Hill-Clark and Vanessa Cook, they said. BARK recently achieved non-profit status in the state of Ohio.
They focus on rescuing animals who are in bad situations, they said, operating through a volunteer network of foster families.
In just a few short months of existence, BARK has helped more than a dozen animals in the Darke County area, whether through adoption or foster care, and they plan to continue, and hope to expand, eventually adding a temporary shelter, they said.
BARK operates through word of mouth, Carla Hill-Clark explained; people call her or Cook about a situation, and they look into it, often returning with an animal in need of a new home, because their owners relinquished them to the care of BARK, Hill-Clark said.
“We have no legal [authority],” Hill-Clark said.
“We’ve found when we come across a situation where an animal isn’t being taken care of properly, their owners willingly give them up,” Cook added.
BARK evaluates the animal’s situation and determines what action is needed, Cook said; they’re not in the business of helping families re-home, she explained, but if an animal is in a bad situation, they’ll do what they can.
“We evaluate them, get them medical attention if it’s needed, which we use Animal Care Alliance for that, we get them their shots and they’re spayed or neutered, and then they go into foster care, in a family situation, so they can learn how to be a part of the family…” Hill-Clark, who has a background with animals as a vet tech, said.
As part of the expectations of a responsible rescue, Cook said all of their rescue animals are spayed and neutered, and in the event that they’re not old enough at the time of adoption, an appointment is made to do it at a later date. There is an adoption application and fee, which is available on BARK’s Facebook page, and animals and BARK representatives hold a meet and greet with potential families, Cook added.
Foster families must also complete an application, Hill-Clark said. BARK rescue animals are all ‘renamed’ when they’re taken in, and all of the names start with a “B,” Cook explained, because they’re BARK dogs. Along with a new name, animals receive training they may not have gotten as a puppy, such as leash, crate and house training, Hill-Clark said.
BARK’s foster network is the basis for their whole operation, Cook explained.
“These animals come into rescue afraid and no well-trained,” Cook said. “By the time they leave, they’re a well-trained companion dog, thanks to our volunteers. Part of the reason the foster system works so well is that these poor, neglected animals are being taken into a loving family environment…They’ve come from a bad situation, but now they get to learn what it means to be in a good situation, and they’ve responded so well…Some of them might take a little longer, because maybe they were more abused, but eventually they all respond well when they realize they’re safe.”
The response from the community, in the form of financial support, word of mouth and encouragement, has been great so far, too, Cook explained.
“It’s been really heartwarming to see the response from the community; a lot of people have been really positive,” Cook said. “…Fostering is a wonderful thing to do; and I think if more people understood more about it, they would volunteer…but we have a lot of people calling to help in other ways, too, which is great.”
BARK operates strictly on a foster network, Hill-Clark explained, and has no direct source of funding, leaving them to do fundraising, gather donations, and even cover costs out of their own pockets, sometimes, she said.
“We realize BARK is new, and we’re just having our first fundraiser in a couple of weeks, so we’re hoping that things start turning around financially,” Cook stated. “The fundraising has been a real challenge to us so far…waiting on non-profit status from the state…”
“Some people say they’re on a shoestring budget, well, ours is more like fishing line,” Hill-Clark joked.
BARK will hold a car wash and bake sale on Aug. 30 at Tractor Supply Company (TSC) on Wagner Avenue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. To help with the fundraiser, or to volunteer or donate in other ways, contact Carla Clark-Hill at 937-423-9300, Vanessa Cook at 937-459-5074 or find BARK Animal Rescue, Inc. on Facebook.