To combat the overwhelming population of abandoned animals in Texas, one rescue operation is breaking ground on a facility that will be one of the state’s largest animal rescue sanctuaries.
Saving Hope Animal Rescue, founded in 2017, works to rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for animals suffering from abuse, neglect and abandonment in Tarrant County and across the state.
The new sanctuary is expected to open in early 2023 and will be a one-stop-shop in Aledo – just west of Fort Worth. The property will be 14.8 acres and is projected to cost $2 million, according to a press release.
The blueprints lay out a multitude of amenities, including intake housing, a veterinary clinic, puppy pods for nursing mothers, a senior sanctuary for older dogs to live out the rest of their days, an educational barn and an adoption center.
“We’re looking to do all of that in the long term,” said Saving Hope Rescue founder Lauren Anton. “But right now it is just baby steps with the first pieces opening in the spring.”
The sanctuary is necessary, in part, because of the high numbers of pets abandoned on the streets when their owners returned to in-person work after pandemic restrictions were lifted.
“When COVID hit, it was a booming time in adoptions for us because everyone was at home alone and wanted that companionship,” said Saving Hope Rescue director Laura Grice.
Almost three years after the start of the pandemic, many pet owners don’t want the responsibility of having a pet at home, she said.
“You add the strain of the economy and inflation, and pets are an additional financial expense,” Grice said. “I think a lot of people are struggling to afford what they need for an animal and feel like they should bring their pet to the shelter.”
In 2022, the rescue operation took in 1,664 dogs and 1,022 cats from other shelters or surrenders. Saving Hope takes more animals from Fort Worth’s animal control department than any other organization.
Saving Hope works to save as many “Code Red” animals from Fort Worth Animal Care & Control as it can. These animals are at risk of being euthanized if not adopted. The new sanctuary aims to create an immediate temporary holding space so these animals aren’t put down.
The rest of the animals come from rural areas, other shelters, owner surrenders, strays and abuse cases. In 2022, the number of animals surrendered by breeders became much more common because of the economy and the inability to sell their dogs, Grice said.
In December, Saving Hope had over 400 cats and 500 dogs in foster homes across Fort Worth.
The new Saving Hope Sanctuary would greatly reduce the organization’s costs and smooth out operations by creating a centralized location for adoptions, intake and vet operations, Anton said.
Saving Hope recently expanded its operations to adopt out dogs in the Pacific Northwest and Minnesota. The Aledo location would help staff coordinate long-distance adoptions, including temporary holding and transportation pickup.
TCU students offer branding services to rescue
Saving Hope has partnered with TCU Roxo, the university’s student AD + PR Agency. Roxo acts as a real world PR agency and serves many clients across the area including Saving Hope, Cook Children’s and Salsa Limon.
“We have been working on Saving Hope’s brand identity,” said senior strategic communications major Jessica Badham. “We’ve given them a brand identity package and created a new logo.”
With the anticipated opening of the new sanctuary, Roxo has spent the last semester creating a media kit filled with tools that Saving Hope can use to promote their organization, Badham added.
Saving Hope’s team consists of seven upperclassmen at TCU, each assigned to a specific role within the project. Roxo has between 30 to 40 students involved, divided into different teams each with assigned clients.
Badham and her team enjoy working with Saving Hope because there are many similarities between the two organizations. Both groups have big ideas for the future, she said.
“You can tell they have a real passion for what they are doing,” Badham said. “Every single one of them cares so much.”
Saving Hope leaders welcome the new ideas from TCU Roxo and are encouraged by the assistance they are receiving.
“It’s been really helpful,” Grice added. “And anyone in the community that is willing to help us and bring awareness to this problem is the only way we are going to fix this.”
Izzy Acheson is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.