When Courtney Bellew opened a special needs animal rescue in 2011, she didn’t imagine how many lives it would save. The shelter prides itself on saving the toughest dogs to rehome – those that were abused, neglected, or have medical conditions. These dogs and cats would have otherwise been euthanized if not for SNARR Northeast, the shelter founded by Courtney.
SNARR stands for Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation. Our mission is giving hope to the hopeless, and we just celebrated our ten year anniversary,” Courtney says. “So, we were founded in 2011, and in those ten years, we’ve rescued thousands and thousands of animals. In 2021 alone, we rescued over 1,500 animals, and we are really proud of where we’ve come.”
Many of the dogs that come to the pet rescue have serious health conditions. Some are paralyzed, blind, deaf, severely underweight, or suffering from neurological conditions. They may have behavioral issues, injuries, or orthopedic problems, as a few examples. However, the shelter doesn’t turn away any dogs, aiming to save as many as possible.
They also promote fostering as a way for the public to get involved, as they rely on volunteers to step up to the plate.
“For us, every foster home represents saving lives, because if we have one more open spot at our shelter, it allows us to pull one more animal to safety,” Courtney says. “Foster homes are also really important because it allows animals to live in a home environment.”
Fostering also conditions the dogs to human love while the shelter searches for their forever homes! Courtney says many people come into the special needsasking to foster pets. If you’d like to get involved, the shelter accepts foster homes all over the country! However, if you’re local to New York and want to adopt or foster, you can stop by the rescue in person.
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Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Helps Pets Find New Homes
“SNARR is still a very small, personalized rescue; we like to have a really personalized experience for adopters. We kind of live and breathe rescue every day – there’s so much that goes into it. You know, we have lots of volunteers and lots of moving parts to make everything happen,” Courtney explains.
The special needs animal rescue takes in dogs from all over the country in addition to locally. Many of their out-of-state dogs come from Texas and Tennessee. In order to transport so many dogs, it takes a lot of work from everyone involved. Volunteers help process applications, workers help transport the animals, and the public comes in to adopt and/or foster dogs. It’s a group effort and well worth it to save so many souls who want a loving, warm home.
Courtney says transport days are some of her favorite times at the shelter. They usually have regular transport once a week and significant transports one or two times per month. This entails a van or bus full of dogs arriving with between 20-50 animals.
“I always think that it’s such a powerful experience because it brings together all the different components of rescue. You’re watching these animals arrive to their new life and to safety,” Courtney says.
She also loves watching adopters and foster homes pick up their new furry friends off the transport. Many volunteers help out on these special days as well.
“You are watching these animals come off the van, and sometimes they’re nervous, sometimes they’re excited, but again, they’re starting their new life. So to me, transport is always a very important, memorable experience, no matter how many of them I do over the years,” Courtney says.
Saving Lives, One Animal at a Time
Other than that, Courtney greatly enjoys watching the beautiful transformation the dogs go through. They come in broken, both physically and spiritually, and the special needshelps them heal. They get a chance at a new life, and it always warms Courtney’s heart to take part in that process.
The shelter pulls dogs from high kill shelters all over the New York and New Jersey area. While the special needs animal shelter mostly takes dogs with medical conditions, they also take in healthy dogs. If a dog needs help and a place to live, the shelter will do their best to accommodate them. They not only give the animals a warm place to lay their heads, but provide costly medical care and help train them.
After Courtney opened the shelter, she said, “I had found my passion and wanted to do more to help in my own area.”
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“We take a lot of dogs with special needs, a lot of dogs with severe medical conditions that have been neglected for years, and I just love watching those transformations. It will never get old, it will never get boring, and it’s what continues to drive us to do what we do,” Courtney says. “And to be better and bigger every year, and save more animals. If you want to be involved, the best way is to visit our website at. We can always use new volunteers, fosters, donors of course; there are so many different ways to be involved.”
If you’d like to help, you can also visit your local animal shelter and consider fostering or adopting. We can all do our part in small ways to make our four-legged friends feel loved and appreciated!