Business savvy propels last-chance rescue

Pet lover product funds rescue project.

Adopted Dog - Last Chance Rescue A playful, but blind Chihuahua mix puppy. A frightened, snappish Jack Russell-Toy Fox Terrier mix. An emaciated German Shepherd Dog pup needing heart surgery.

Though differing in their breed makeups and problems, Reuben, Franzi, and Imann, respectively, shared dismal prospects for being cared for and adopted from the crowded shelters where they landed. Fortunately, help was just a phone call away.

“The shelters call us for any animal that’s disabled, injured, traumatized, or emotionally failing in the shelter environment,” says Heather Hines, founder and director of Indigo Rescue in Beaverton, Ore. “These pets are basically unadoptable because they don’t show well, or the shelters don’t have the resources to take care of them.”

Upon taking these challenging cases under its wing, the nonprofit rescue provides treatment and rehabilitation, training, foster care, and — ultimately and after careful screening — a loving new home.

“We half-jokingly refer to ourselves as the of people and pets, because we’re all about making compatible matches,” Hines says.

However, helping pets with expensive medical issues or in need of behavioral work comes with hefty costs. Started in 1998 and named in honor of Hines’ beloved feline friend, the fledgling rescue nearly floundered as she and fellow volunteers struggled to raise enough money to aid a tidal wave of damaged, discarded pets.

When a generous bequest fell into their laps nearly six years ago, “We talked about what we should do,” Hines recalls. “Do we squander it on our veterinary bills and financial woes or spend it on something to finance our rescue efforts?”

They chose the latter, making their first foray into business with the opening of Oregon Canine University at Indigo Ranch (, a cage-free, homelike “Vacation Resort for Dogs” situated on 16 acres in Vernonia.

Like most new small businesses, the boarding facility/day camp encountered growing pains. Add extensive remodeling, a fence-destroying flood, and a tanking economy to the mix, and some four years later, “We’re close to making a profit, but we still have that hurdle to get over,” Hines says.

Determined to fund and grow their good work, these undaunted rescuers launched a second pet-lover-appealing business last fall. The rescue staff came up with the idea for Dig My Dog decals ( after decorating the Indigo Ranch dog bus windows with lifelike, vinyl-coated decals sporting images of rescued dogs, Hines says. “People loved them, so we thought, ‘Hey, why can’t we do the same thing with other people’s dogs and pets for their car windows?’ ” she adds.

Available in two sizes, these playful and popular custom decals bear an exact image of your dog, cat, or other pet, created from a high-resolution digital photo you supply, and can last two to four years. As with Indigo Ranch, 100 percent of the profits go to the rescue, making it possible for more dogs like Reuben, Franzi, and Imann to have a second chance at life, healing, and a home. To learn more, go to

Sponsored by Halo Pets &

The efforts of Indigo Rescue inspired, a website dedicated to providing nutritious food to shelter animals, to donate 5,000 meals of Halo Spot’s Stew to the Oregon nonprofit.

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