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© Allison Usavage

Cayuga Dog Rescue

Cayuga Dog Rescue places dogs in need into foster homes where they receive veterinary care and emotional, physical, and social rehabilitation on their way to adoption. The organization also supports families that need to give up their dogs by helping them find another regional home rather than making the dog transition through a shelter.

A grassroots initiative that started with two dog lovers who saw a need in the community, Cayuga Dog Rescue has placed 495 dogs into adoptive homes in the past 9 years.

A Q&A with Susan Wiser, Director of Cayuga Dog Rescue. Photos of Susan’s adopted and foster dogs, and a meet-and-greet between a foster pup, Milo, and his soon-to-be-brother, Burrito, in his new adoptive family!


© Allison Usavage
What is Cayuga Dog Rescue?

We are an all-volunteer, non-profit, all-breed, all-age dog rescue organization. We rescue homeless dogs, both in New York and elsewhere. We also pull dogs from high-kill shelters who are friendly, lovable, wonderful dogs but are going to be euthanized because they don’t have space in shelters.


Who is this good for?

It’s great for the dogs. We’re pulling dogs out of terrible situations and we’re providing them with beautiful veterinary care and love and socialization and training and then finding them really well-matched adoptive homes.

We’re also really good for the dog loving community because we take really good care of the dogs and we work really hard to make sure that any dog that people are interested in adopting would be a really good match for them and successful in their home.

What kind of change are you trying to make?

We’re certainly trying to model wonderful dog guardianship. I guess you could say that we’re trying to change, in the small way that we can, the situation for homeless dogs.


What impact does the organization have on our community?

We’re bringing wonderful dogs into the community to be adopted. We also provide a lot of education and assistance to people with dogs. We provide information about dog care and dog training and dog nutrition and dog veterinary care. We try to educate everyone that we’re in contact with as much as possible.

We also try to help out the community by doing rehomings. A lot of times people have to give up their dogs for various reasons and they’ll have to go to the shelter, which is usually terrible for the dog and also a big burden on the county shelters. We’ll often intervene, so if someone needs to give up their dog we’ll help them try to find a home so that their dog can go straight from their home to a new home and not have to go to the shelter in the middle.


How has the community supported you?

Amazingly… it’s wonderful. This area is so dog loving. This community is so supportive… there are fabulous dog owners, we have a great group of generous donors, tons of people volunteer, a lot of people foster dogs and we couldn’t be more blessed, really.


What struggles have you encountered?

For the people that work in dog rescue, there are never enough foster homes and enough adopters. That’s difficult for us because we have to say we can’t help a lot of dogs. We also try very hard to make sure that we’re not just putting dogs into good homes, but that we’re putting dogs into homes that are a good match for that particular dog. Sometimes people are interested in adopting a dog that we really feel isn’t a good match, either for the people or the dog. That’s hard.


What should we be celebrating?

The love of dogs! There are just so many people who are so incredibly loving and just take such phenomenal care of their dogs. It’s such an antidote… when you work in dog rescue, half of what you see is just people not taking good care of dogs or actually being very harmful and it’s so upsetting and demoralizing. The other half is when we come into contact with the most amazing dog-loving moms and dads out there… that half definitely needs to be celebrated.


© Allison Usavage
How can we participate?

Of course you can financially support Cayuga Dog Rescue… it’s expensive, taking care of dogs! People can take care of some wonderful dogs, they can tell their friends that Cayuga Dog Rescue is an option, they can volunteer or foster with a rescue like us or any of the local SPCAs.


Donate, volunteer, foster, or apply to adopt at


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