This NYC-based dog rescue saves pups from overpopulated kennels in the South.
Here at Keys to the Community, there’s nothing we love more than a furry friend.
That’s why we’re proud to support Hearts & Bones Rescue. This breed-neutral 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue is committed to saving pups from overpopulated shelters in Southern states with lax spay/neuter laws and high euthanasia rates.
We sat down with Hearts & Bones Rescue founders Anna Blumberg and Whitney Fang, who shared the inspiring story of how they transformed their rescue dream into a reality.
Keys to the Community: Could you walk us through your professional backgrounds? I understand that you both have day jobs in addition to your rescue work?
Anna Blumberg: Hearts & Bones is our passion project, but we still have to pay the bills! I’m an advertising director and Whitney works for a hedge fund. Fortunately, we’ve been able to channel our professional experiences into our efforts to get Hearts & Bones off the ground as a relatively new organization.
K2C: How did you and Whitney get the idea for Hearts & Bones?
AB: Whitney and I first met five years ago when we were fostering for a Brooklyn animal rescue organization. We were kindred spirits — we took in multiple dogs at once, and we had a steady rotation of dogs in our homes at all times. We’d always dreamed of starting our own rescue, and in April, all the cards fell into place: we knew it was the right time to venture out on our own to start Hearts & Bones.
What sets Hearts & Bones apart from other organizations of its kind is that we don’t just rescue dogs — we rescue dogs from shelters, many of which are located in the south and are constantly inundated with more dogs than they can accommodate. Our organization physically goes down to save those dogs, and then we’ll spay/neuter them, get them vaccinated, and do everything we can to find them loving forever homes.
K2C: When did Hearts & Bones get its official start? How many dogs have been rescued and adopted to date?
AB: We just got our website up and received our 501(c)(3) status, which officially makes us a non-profit organization! We’ve recruited a lot of volunteers to help us out in the early stages, and we’ve rescued 200 dogs since April.
The meaning behind the name of our rescue, “Hearts & Bones,” is pretty simple, but we stand by it. Rescue requires not only love and compassion for animals, but also the strength, grit, and persistence to save these dogs from shelters and give them a loving home.
K2C: Why the focus on the South?
AB: We’ve traveled across many southern states — Georgia, Alabama, and Texas among them — and have decided to focus our immediate efforts in Texas.
There are relaxed spay/neuter laws in Texas, so people often view dogs as their property rather than as their companions. They let them run loose and don’t keep them in fenced-in yards, which means a lot of dogs get picked up and sent to shelters. There’s also a big dumping problem — people will dump their unwanted dogs in rural areas and drive away, where they’ll get picked up and taken to shelters, or die out there on their own.
Our core mission is to save dogs from the South, because there isn’t as much focus on animal advocacy or adoption there — the euthanasia rate in the South is through the roof. Plus, the demand for dogs is much higher in northern metropolises, so that’s why we bring them all the way up here.
Whitney actually relocated to Texas to be the boots on the ground for Hearts & Bones. She lives five minutes from the Dallas shelter and she’s had as many as 10 foster dogs at one time! The shelter we focus our efforts on holds 600 dogs and is well-staffed, but they can get upwards of 200+ dog intakes a day.
K2C: How do you transport the dogs from Texas to New York?
AB: We have a transport partner that drives the dogs from Texas to New York, stopping along the way to walk the dogs during the 4-day road trip. It’s definitely not the most convenient, but we really think that rescuing these forgotten dogs is so important, and that’s what drives us at Hearts & Bones every day. We’ve visited a lot of kill shelters and had to leave dogs behind, which was heartbreaking — but it’s only motivated us to work harder.
K2C: What are your plans for the next year?
AB: We would love to get a mobile adoption van. The van would allow us to bring more awareness to the cause, while at the same time increasing the chances of finding forever homes for these sweet dogs. In terms of rescue locations, we’re focusing on Texas right now, but we hope to eventually expand into Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
We’re really thrilled with how far we’ve come in a short amount of time, and we can’t wait to see where this journey takes us next!