LoveyLoaves is a funny name for a sanctuary that rescues dogs with “medically complex” issues. And actually the story behind their name is funny as well. But the mission of this nonprofit group is no laughing matter.
LoveyLoaves gives special needs dogs a bright future that includes health, happiness, love and plenty of cuddles.
Cheri Wells started the rescue along with her husband Ward in 2011. Today the couple has saved hundreds of dogs who were dealt challenging circumstances in life. They’re busy from morning until night rehabilitating dogs with amputations, paralysis, birth defects and other health problems.
I was lucky to catch Cheri for a quick interview about her work. I think you’re going to enjoy reading how she manages it all.
How the name LoveyLoaves came about
Cheri began what would become LoveyLoaves as a pet sitting and home cleaning service in 2008, after being laid off from her corporate job. She would visit dogs in their homes and let the little “Loveys” out to go pee.
One of her clients was a tiny Dachshund puppy named Ollie. Cheri said when Ollie was sleeping, his pudgy frame and short length took on the shape of a small rectangle. It reminded her of a loaf pan. And she’d tell herself, “he’d fit right into a meatloaf pan.” Soon she was telling her husband about the many “LoveyLoaves” she’d taken care of during the day.
Pet sitting morphed into rescuing dogs
During this time, Cheri’s 17-year-old dog, Smudge, had a knee injury. It required several surgeries, but due to his advanced age and extreme loss of muscle mass, the dog’s leg had to be amputated.
Cheri said this happened when the US economy had taken a downturn and the nightly news was full of stories about dogs being surrendered to shelters. Their families couldn’t afford to keep them.
With the special needs of Smudge on her mind, Cheri began to worry about the handicapped dogs in the shelter. She knew they didn’t have a chance.
“Nobody wants to adopt a dog who can’t walk and is sitting in a cage covered in pee,” said Cheri.
Cheri decided to take action, rather than sit on the sidelines and watch this problem unfold. So, she started her plan for LoveyLoaves Special Needs Rescue.
The goal of LoveyLoaves is be a sanctuary where all dogs with disabilities are welcome. Everyone receives medical attention plus emotional and behavior treatment. And when they’re ready, the dogs are adopted into loving homes of their own.
The group takes in 25 dogs at a time: 10 stay with Cheri and Ward and the others are placed in foster care. Every foster family is handpicked by Cheri to match the needs of a dog.
The number of dogs is kept small on purpose. That way Cheri can personally transport each one to rehab, vet appointments, water therapy, acupuncture and any other treatments they need.
Most of the dogs stay with LoveyLoaves for a few months. But a few of the pups are considered “not medically adoptable.” So they take up permanent residency with Cheri and Ward.
What’s the process to adopt?
“I look for someone who has the heart to care for a special needs dog. Some of the dogs require a lot of work. You need heart because it’s a different bond. Special needs dogs impact your life more and it’s a deeper bond. I learned that from Smudge.”
Providing families with education
In addition to her rescue efforts, Cheri reaches out to pet families who are having a rough time adjusting to life with a disabled dog. She understands the stress a special needs animal can place on a family.
So, she teaches people how to take care of their dog. She lets them know about resources in their community that can assist them. And she talks to them about the practical techniques they should learn to make life more manageable. Cheri believes that having this information will prevent pet owners from giving away their special needs animal.
Meet some of the dogs LoveyLoaves has saved
Duncan was the first dog rescued by the group. He was a 3-year-old Rottweiler who was found in an abandoned house. Duncan was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that left him with painful joints, fatigue and weak muscles. He was nearly 50lbs underweight and unable to walk. LoveyLoaves set him on the road to recovery and a new life.
Sassy came to the group with severely deformed hind legs. She hopped, like a little kangaroo, to move around. Sassy was happy with this jumping technique, but it took a toll on her legs. She had cuts and scrapes everywhere. And the deformity made it impossible for her to use a wheelchair.
Finally the decision was made to amputate and Sassy underwent surgery. Soon after she was fitted for a cart. Now she runs in her yard as fast as her adopted dog brother, Colby.
How you can help
LoveyLoaves in located Orlando, Florida and the group is in dire need of foster homes in the area. If you’d like to help the best way to contact Cheri is through their Facebook page or via their website.
And if you don’t live in Central Florida, you can donate items through the LoveyLoaves Amazon Wish List. Cheri said they always need dog diapers, potty pads, dog beds and toys. Cheri also invites everyone to join her mailing list.
Foster family for Bogdan
The original foster for Bogdan fell through so LoveyLoaves needs a family immediately to temporarily care for this happy guy. Bogdan is a paralyzed 21lb. fluffy shepherd mix who was rescued from Romania. He’s a friendly dog who loves kids and cats. If you know someone who can foster Bogdan while he waits to find his forever home, please contact LoveyLoaves.