On July 20th, 2015, pups Kala and Keira were photographed by Etowah Valley Humane Society just moments before being rescued from euthanization at a Georgia rural shelter. The photograph showed the two dogs hugging, and immediately went viral after Angels Rescue posted the image to their Facebook page.
“That photo prompted us to rescue both pups together,” Marla Olcott, a founding member of Angels Rescue, said.
At the time, Kala was an 8-month old hound mix and Keira was a 1-year old boxer mix. They remained together at the foster home of Chris Folchitto.
“They have bonded,” Folchitto said. “So, they may want to find a permanent home together.”
The before and after photos of the pair were shared online more than 12,000 times and crashed the website of Angels Rescue. The rescue organization received an influx of donations due to the additional public attention, providing for more than just Kala and Keira.
“We can use the funds as well as the flood of adoption applications,” Olcott said.
Angels Rescue spends more than $180,000 monthly on veterinary expenses alone. Since 2009, the 501(c)(3) organization has rescued over 8,800 dogs and cats from high-kill shelters in Georgia, relying on individual donations generated through social media. The Facebook page of Angels Rescue has over 900,000 fans to date.
“The need to rescue pets from high kill shelters in Georgia is huge,” Olcott explained. “We can save more lives as long as we have foster homes and funding for their care.”
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, Inc. is the largest volunteer-lead foster-based pet rescue in the Southeastern U.S. At the time of Kala and Keira’s rescue, the organization had 452 active volunteers fostering more than 800 dogs and cats in the program. The motto of Angels Rescue is, ‘Rescue One Until There Are None.’
Shortly after Kala and Keira gained fame, the hugging duo tested positive for Parvovirus.
“Contagious viruses, like Parvo or Kennel Cough can incubate in pets weeks after they leave a shelter,” Andi Fahmy-Rhys, Vetting Director with Angels Rescue, explained.
Parvovirus is only contagious when a dog shows symptoms, and Angels Rescue typically has a 2-week incubation hold on dogs rescued from shelters. Kala and Keira continued to bond even at the animal hospital while under quarantine. Angels Rescue has a high 95 percent success rate for treating the Parvovirus, and after a few days in the hospital, Kala and Keira were deemed healthy.
The pair was rumored to have been adopted shortly after their viral fame, but were still looking for a permanent home together three months later. Kala and Keira were featured in the October 19, 2015 issue of People magazine, which is where best friends and roommates, Wendy Newman and Pam Cody, first learned the dogs were still available for adoption. They had recently lost their two elderly dogs when they saw the article.
“We lost our whole family in one week,” Cody explained. “We were grieving our other dogs—it’s a major loss—but it’s kind of like Kala and Keira found us,” Newman added.
“It just fell together,” Cody said. “We turned our tears into smiles with these two young, playful dogs.”
The two pairs are now a happy family of four in Tucker, Georgia. “It was love at first sight,” said Newman. “They play nonstop. And they still hug!”
Cody still isn’t certain who rescued whom. “I don’t know who needed who the most. I think we needed them.”
For more information about how you can help donate, foster or adopt an angel like Kala or Keira, go to AngelsRescue.org.
If you’d like to help spread awareness about rescue animals in your town, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to host a screening and bring Rescue Dogs the Movie to your community and raise funds for your local animal rescue.
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