When Christina Lee of Salem, Virg., received an urgent phone call from the City of Salem Animal Shelter about a malnourished, fully deaf white Boxer puppy in need of help, she knew only one choice existed: to adopt him.
But she didn’t know that by making Nitro, this special-needs pup, her own, she would open up her world to the joys of deaf dogs and create one of the most well-known and successful deaf-dog rescue resources in the nation.
In August 2011, Lee and her husband Chris founded DeafDogsRock.com. It’s difficult to classify this multi-faceted website as purely a database or even a rescue source. It’s so much more. It’s a constantly updated website, a learning resource for all things deaf dogs, an orphan-dog databank, a networking tool for deaf dogs needing homes.
Upwards of 500 homeless deaf dogs—from all over the nation—are listed on the website at any given time. The group works closely with shelters, breeders and private individuals across the United States to locate these dogs and find them great homes.
“I get emails daily from rescues and shelters saying ‘we have tried for months to find this deaf dog a home with no interest at all, and the day it was featured on DeafDogsRock.com, we got 20 emails and five adoption applications’,” says Lee.
She also tirelessly updates DeafDogRock.com’s Facebook page, where the simple act of sharing photos and information can often lead to quick action by adopters and rescuers. Lee reaches upwards of 115,000 viewers through social media alone.
“If I get photos of a cute puppy, I know everyone on Facebook will share them,” says Lee. “We can [usually] find a home or a rescue within a 12 to 24 hours.”
After Lee adopted Nitro as a 10-week-old puppy, she felt overwhelmed with the amount of information she didn’t know about raising a deaf dog, despite her experience as a seasoned dog owner and rescuer. But she learned. The night before bringing Nitro home, Lee and her husband stayed up until the early hours of the day, studying websites about sign language and how to train deaf dogs. And the studying never stopped. When it came time to create DeafDogsRock.com, Lee wanted to put as much information as possible on the website, enabling others to have a one-stop-shop of knowledge at their fingertips.
Lee and her team of two others work tirelessly on DeafDogsRock.com. Lee herself responds to nearly 50 emails a day and works eight hours on the site’s content, taking photos, networking the dogs and publicizing others.
“The main goal is to always keep our mission of saving deaf dogs and educating people,” says Lee. “[We] never lose sight of why we are here.”