This month we are taking our Volunteer Spotlight right down to the nuts and bolts of The Rescued Dog. Completely run by volunteers, TRD has an incredible team that does a great deal of work, spending a lot of time on rescue related needs. This includes numerous people that spend countless hours in areas of foster coordination, events and fundraising, writing (blogs, education, grants etc.), coordinating donations, managing volunteers/needs, coordinating adoptions, financial/legal, marketing, database management and much, much more!  All these “jobs” are dependent on TRD saving awesome dogs out of high risk shelters to be adopted.  Here’s where our own TRD Co-founder and Rescue Coordinator, Ashley, comes in.

Ashley’s animal connection began while growing up on a farm in MN and she has a long history helping shelter animals. She started volunteering at a Humane Society in St. Cloud, MN when she was 14. At 16, she requested dog and cat food for birthday presents and donated over a 1,000lbs to the humane society!  After moving to San Diego she found herself at a shelter in Devore trying to adopt a sick dog and seeing firsthand the incredible need for help in this overcrowded, high kill shelter. While talking to a rescue networker, she found out transporting animals was the biggest need. Transporters: people who willingly load their car to the brim with dogs/cats/rabbits (even the occasional chicken) and hit the road to various rescue groups. It was then Ashley and her Prius began the journey of rescue work. She’s had as many as 17 dogs each in their own crate packed into that Prius! Coined the “Prius of Freedom”, more than 50,000 miles have been put on her car saving and transporting dogs since 2010.

Ashley and her partners started The Rescued Dog because they knew they could do rescue differently. Dogs need to be in foster homes where they learn house manners, security and love. This prepares them for an easier transition to their forever home. When dogs are kenneled, shelters and rescues have dogs returned frequently for house training, owner guarding, separation anxiety, etc. – all behaviors not easily identified in a kennel setting. Foster homes provide the opportunity to target these behaviors and provide additional training when encountered. The crew at TRD are always amazed by Ashley’s super powers to pull awesome dogs. She has an incredible intuition and knowledge and we trust her judgment completely when pulling dogs for the rescue. She and her husband, Fernando, a dog trainer himself, have spent a great deal of time learning and teaching dog behavior. We lean on Ashley all the time for her incredible assessments, information and advice on all of our TRD dogs. She is TRD’s very own “Dog Whisperer”.

We, at TRD, know Ashley puts in A TON of hours to the rescue. She’s either driving to shelters to get dogs, driving around San Diego to vaccinate our dogs, coordinating with vets for our medical cases, emails/admin tasks, coaching foster families with their new dogs, coordinating with shelters to get more dogs and training her own foster dogs …she is always working for the dogs we just saved and the ones we are about to save. When asked about how many hours per week she devotes to TRD work she said, “I don’t think I should answer this question… it’s a large number! Way more than my ‘real job’.” When asked the most rewarding part of rescue she says it’s by far the updates we get from our amazing adopters. One word that describes the feeling of rescue work for Ashley? Hope.

The long term goal for Ashley is to get back to living on some land and run The Rescued Dog’s Sanctuary someday —it would allow her (and the dogs) the time and space to work with dogs needing advanced training. Ashley’s partners and rescue friends cannot say enough about her commitment and dedication to rescue work.

“Ashley is the driving force behind our organization. Her super power is pulling great dogs. She seems to know instinctually which dogs are great, and which ones are diamonds in the rough. Of course it’s not instinct entirely. She puts a lot of time and effort into understanding dog behavior, and she puts an equal amount of time cultivating the relationships we have with shelter managers and leaders. In turn, her shelter connections help us save our dogs. I think we can all agree that Ashley’s work on behalf of TRD is a large part of why we have been so successful. We really couldn’t do it without her.” ~Katie Michelmore Co-Founder of The Rescued Dog

“I met Ashley a year ago when she first came to the Humane Society of Imperial County to start pulling our dogs. She has been so supportive of our tiny little shelter. She’ll take our hard medical cases and she’s always there to lend a helping hand. We are truly blessed to have Ashley in our corner; she has driven down to help take pictures of animals, she has brought us food when needed and she has helped us do our very first adoption event in San Diego. We love Ashley and all of The Rescued Dog’s team, we wouldn’t be saving so many lives without Ashley’s help and support.“ ~Mikey Garcia, Networker/Rescue Coordinator for Humane Society of Imperial County

“Ashley is the backbone of TRD. The amount of work she puts into this rescue is incredible— her commitment, work and passion for rescued dogs is amazing. Someday I will sew her a Superhero Dog Temperament Tester cape!! She’s awesome and I’m so happy I get to work with her.” ~Alana Lawler Volunteer Coordinator for The Rescued Dog




I got my start in dog rescue by using Facebook to help network dogs who were in high kill shelters in San Bernardino, CA.  While that was fulfilling, I really wanted to be more hands-on and interact with the dogs who were being saved.  I wanted to personally see the transformation from a scared shelter dog to a happy and adoptable dog.  So far I have fostered four wonderful dogs for The Rescued Dog and hope to foster many more!  I also love volunteering at the adoption events and watching when a match is made between a dog and their new owners.


My design thesis in my senior year of college revolved around re-designing the animal sheltering system. I spent hours and hours a day volunteering at a handful of shelters. I saw someone bring in a terrified dog as he screamed at shelter staff: “I just don’t want the damn thing anymore..” That was the tipping point for me… Also, this is my favorite quote…ever: “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”


Life has so much to offer if we remember to look beyond ourselves. I volunteer because it continuously teaches me something new about people, about cooperation, about compassion, and about myself. I have a great passion for animals. We have three rescue dogs that came to us in 2008.  Since then I’ve wanted to work with an origination that helps save dogs and put them in forever, loving homes so when I came across this opportunity with The Rescued Dog to help I jumped at the chance.  I am passionate about their mission to save dogs from high kill shelters and I truly believe that help comes in many forms, volunteering is one way to accomplish what we are supposed to accomplish in this lifetime.


I started volunteering with TRD in 2015. Volunteering has been great. I love dogs, I mean who doesn’t right?! However, I do not own a dog…not yet. I live vicariously through the rescue. If you can’t afford to adopt a dog or don’t have the ideal living situation to have a dog, like me, you can still “scratch your itch,” that’s a great thing about volunteering with us. So, the irony is I have been telling you about how great it would be to adopt a rescued dog and save them from their unfortunate circumstance and put them in a happy and caring home, and in my case, I didn’t know it then, however, the rescue saved me. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be a part of and for filling my need to be around so many furry friends.


I was introduced to rescue as a child when I met a greyhound rescue organization one night at Balboa Park and convinced my parents to adopt one.  Our family greyhound Bookie and I were best buds for the ten years we had him.  Since then I have been a sucker for rescue dogs.  I am so glad I was introduced to TRD by a friend and fellow foster, and have had a chance to work with some great people and dogs, and found my little buddy, Madison!


I was introduced to The Rescued Dog while working at a local shelter.  I was excited about their mission to save dogs from high-kill shelters & wanted to participate with this mission.  I love working with the TRD team and fosters to get these pups out of the shelter, into a great foster home and finally on to their furr-ever homes!


I have always been a firm believer that doggie cuddles could save the world. So, when my mom said she wanted to start fostering dogs I was very excited. In the short period of time I have been volunteering with The Rescued Dog I realized I want to be an advocate for change. I took on this role not only to push myself but to also be a bigger voice for all of the shelter animals, since they can’t do that on their own.


The bond I have with my dog, Otis who I rescued about 2 years ago,  is that of a family member, a best friend, and a companion. Saving dogs from high kill shelters is a rewarding task, but adding a new member to someone’s family is life changing. Rescued is truly the best breed.


I got involved with rescuing dogs when my own dogs and animal loving kids got a touch older and realized I had a tiny amount of free time to fill! My kids begged for Chihuahuas, Daschunds, Huskys etc….so naturally I thought fostering would be great!  Once I got in, I was hooked and wanted to do more to help shelter dogs find the forever love my own dogs had. In regard to volunteering, I believe that if we all give a little we can accomplish a lot!


10 years ago I took a road trip from Philadelphia to San Diego with my beloved English Bulldog.  As a travel nurse, I was given the opportunity to move across the country, and with working only three days a week, I had time to volunteer with my first passion, rescue dogs.  Through volunteering, I met an amazing group of women who shared my same vision, so we collaborated The Rescue Dog!  I am so proud of our accomplishments and I look forward to continuing to educate and save lives!


I was fostering for the SD Humane Society but was looking for a rescue I could become more involved in. A friend foster failed with TRD so I filled out an application. I feel like I’ve found my calling! There is nothing like getting a dog right out of the shelter and making him feel safe. Now as an adoption coordinator I get to see the rescue through to the end, a great family and a forever home!!


I rescued my first dog in 2010 and started volunteering with a rescue a year later and loved it! After meeting a few amazing friends, it became evident rescue work was more than just a fun hobby. I truly believe the best dogs are rescued dogs and have come to find my true passion in life is in dog rescue. Fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have and I highly recommend it to everyone! I can’t imagine my life without dogs, and thankfully I’ll never have to. I’m so excited to be working with such a fantastic group of people and I can’t wait to see what The Rescued Dog accomplishes!



It is easy to buy a dog from pet stores, online ads, or from dog breeders, but rescuing a shelter dog is definitely more rewarding.  How can you not admire that once sad dog, now all waggy and happy because they’ve been given a second, sometimes third chance at finding their forever home?  The ability of these pups to recognize and embrace their new life never ceases to amaze me.  The Rescued Dog saves dogs from high kill shelters and prepares them to meet and be adopted by a loving family.  TRD fills the corners of my life and it makes me happy to know I’m doing something worthwhile for these sweet pups.  Having rescued – and been rescued – by my own dogs proves that rescued really is the best breed.


My passion for rescuing dogs comes from my great experiences with rescue dogs in my life. I personally have had my life brightened by many great rescue dogs, and I have seen how having pets, and dogs particularly, has improved the lives of my friends and family. For me, the best part of dog rescue is seeing the connection that dogs and people make, and knowing that when we connect the right dogs with the right people, we are improving the lives of everyone involved, both human and canine.