February 28, 2022 7 min read
At Grounds & Hounds we work with a ton of incredible rescues through our Grounds Crew program and decided we wanted to get to know some of the people better that are out there in the world saving pups! So we sat down with Marianne Cox recently to talk about her incredible work with Street Dog Hero. What follows is a lightly edited version of our interview for reading and clarity.
G&H: Hi, Marianne. Thanks for sitting down with us. Could you tell our readers how you’re involved with Street Dog Hero?
Marianne Cox: I'm the founder and president and we are located- our home base is in Bend, Oregon.
G&H: What led you to get personally involved in Street Dog Hero? Is there a certain kind of passion for dogs or a moment that you can recall?
Marianne: It's kind of both. I have no background in animals, except that Iloveanimals. And I'm always the person, and always been the kid, that would pull over for any dog running down the side of the road. And so, about five years ago, my daughter was old enough- we started volunteering at our local humane society. And it was just at that time that we got our first shipment of South Korean dogs that came from a meat farm and it was kind of eye opening to me. Thatthatwas even a thing and those dogs weresoshut down. That was October of 2016 and that kind of led me to think more outside the box, “I love animals- there's situations outside of the United States that are horrendous and how can I help?”And so that kind of got my wheels turning. And that also goes back to my first time out of the country to Mexico with my husband. We were just out of college and it was my first time I saw a street dog and it was literally that day, 20 plus years ago, that I told my husband, “One day I just want to save one of those street dogs.”
G&H: What would you say is the biggest benefit to founding and running Street Dog Hero?
Marianne: The biggest benefit you would think would be the animals. Because I was like oh my gosh is so amazing, I'm doing so much making a difference. And it's made a big impact more than I ever imagined. But the biggest benefit to me is meeting all the people. The world becomes a really small place when you start working globally. So I'm making new friends around the world that have the same passion as I do, who just work so hard every day to save dogs that have no one to help them. So that's really my biggest benefit. Then on top of that, I meet so many amazing families who adopt dogs from us.
G&H: Is there one thing in particular that kind of fuels you and keeps you going?
When I saw street dogs as a tourist, which is what 99% of us see, those dogs are actually okay, they're owned, they're actually taken care of. It's just the way they live their lives. It's the dogs the touristsdon'tsee- that are the ones that were helping. And those are the ones that we're telling our stories about. So those trips fuel me because I realized just how much work there is to be done. Unfortunately, it seems like a never ending process. So no matter how hard we try - it's like there's no end in sight. But I know we're making a small difference. We're making an impact. And that's why education is so important. Sure you're watching us on socials and you watch us go down there, butyoucan help as well. So the biggest fuel for me- those trips being on the ground, seeing the dogs, seeing the people that are on the ground helping those dogs and everyone working together to benefit the world- make it a better place.
G&H: Can you recall one particular dog or a particular happy moment where you'll never forget, like something where the dog found their forever home or there was a particular pup that everyone kind of rallied behind?
Marianne: I guess the one story that always sticks with me is a dog named Sasha. It was a rescue that I personally did from beginning to end. so I was in La Paz Mexico, just doing- meeting my rescue groups, meeting the dogs (going out in the field). We knew of this local dog hoarder, who was a local ‘rescuer’ in La Paz that people just you know, thought- he was the guy.
So they would just drop off dogs at his house. But once the dogs got to him, he hoarded them inside the house, and it was actually worse that they are with him than out on the streets because they had no food, no water, no medical care.
So we were alerted of this man. We went to this guy's house and he had, what we saw, 20 dogs that day and it was not a big house. It's covered in poop. It was stinky. It was disgusting. All of the dogs were skin and bones. All had no hair. Some are barely alive. It was the most- it was- it's one thing to see dogs, you know, randomly on the streets, broken or hurt or skinny, but to see them all in one captive place with a man that caused this to happen.
So that one dog, Sasha, was a big, beautiful dog - didn't have one piece of hair on her. She looked like she was wrapped in Saran wrap. She was so skinny. And her eyes- they just looked at me and she was still so hopeful. And those dogs had to go to the vet and were there for about two and a half months.
And two and a half months later I went back. She had all her hair, she was filled out. Just a little bit of love, food, of course and water. And I really wanted to adopt her. But she wasn't the dog for us at the time. But she melted my heart so much, She found the most amazing home. So that's my happiest moment- just because I saw her go from beginning to end.
G&H: What should an individual who's interested in looking at the pups that you have available or a first time dog adopter know or really consider?
Marianne: So every dog, just like every person, is different.. So when people think breed dogs are better than rescue dogs, I beg to differ.I think that rescue dogs love more, they love harder, and they definitely appreciate more. It's very clear, they appreciate the luxuries that the dogs here in the United States already have. And they value that a lot.
G&H: Outside of financial means, what are ways that people can support or get involved with Street Dog Hero?
Marianne: Of course we’re a 501C 3. So we just run on donations but the biggest thing we need are fosters because we're foster-based and even though our dogs fly to San Fran, Seattle and Portland and Bend. We always need fosters. We always need volunteers. We always need people flying dogs! Our dogs get from point A to point B with a flight volunteer or a flight escort, you're their “flight angel.” So if you're flying to Mexico or somewhere exotic or amazing or for vacation or work contact us we always need flight volunteers!
G&H: Part of supporting too, in a perfect world, are events. Does Street Dog Hero have any big events planned, perhaps this year that you're looking to rally behind?
Marianne: Yes our main fundraiser is called ‘Heroes On The Run.’ We do it every September. It's mostly located in central Oregon. But we open it up virtually because we have so many volunteers, families, fosters in all of the Pacific Northwest and in California, and all over the United States as well. So that's usually in the middle to end of September. I think this year it’s gonna be September 25th. And we'll be pushing it of course on social media.
G&H: You have great energy Marianne! I just wondered if you know, you happen to be a coffee drinker- what’s a time and place you savor a good cup?
Marianne: We love camping. Every time I'm camping that is the time I drink coffee but it's actually decaf because I don't need any more caffeine because I am like you said I'm always energized. But, camping? Every morning Ihaveto have a cup of coffee. I'm gonna make sure to get the Grounds & Hounds coffee in our camper going forward.
G&H: Well, I’ll be happy to send you some decaf coffee and also we have some Off Trail Blend. It's a steeping bag. Very tea like in the packaging and perfect for the on the go and camping lifestyle. I'll be sure to send a care package!
Marianne: Well, thank you! That’s awesome.
G&H: We include a bunch of rescues in our outreach program called Grounds Crew. How has being a member of our Grounds Crew helped your mission, helped Street Dog Hero?
Marianne: Being a Grounds Crew member has been awesome! One, we reach an audience outside of the Pacific Northwest- which again, we have families outside the United States and they move of course throughout the United States. But it's awesome to reachmoreplaces because we are a global rescue! And it's not just about rescuing a dog and finding them a home it's about education, raising awareness because we all can make a difference and so your platform definitely helps us speak to the masses of people to get our word out about howtheycan help and whatwe'redoing to help.
And then of course, (Grounds & Hounds) fundraising back to organizations such as SDH is so appreciative and means so much to us because as any organization will say every penny, every dollar helps.
G&H: This was so great. Kudos to you for kicking ass on so many levels. I gotta say, you must be pure passion. Thank you for sitting down with us, Marianne and for everything you do to save those pups!
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