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The Short Version: Muddy Paws Rescue is a foster-based rescue group that cares for close to 1,000 dogs each year and inspires close human relationships through its goodwill efforts. The nonprofit relies on the help of a vast volunteer crew in New York City. Dog lovers of all stripes have come together to foster dogs, donate, and volunteer at the rescue shelter. Muddy Paws Rescue has a robust community supporting its puppies and dogs, and it can be a wonderful place for local singles seeking a heartfelt connection.
Growing up, I tended to befriend introverted people like me. One of my friends spent so much time with her head in a book that she didn’t realize half the boys in our class had a crush on her. She didn’t socialize or date very much when we were younger — not until she got to college and started volunteering at a pet shelter.
The shelter brought out her best qualities and introduced her to a pack of people who shared her interests. One day, she talked a single guy into fostering a young terrier. He returned the next day on the pretext of asking questions about the foster program, but his real aim was to ask for her number. He became a regular volunteer, and their friendship grew into a romance.
They are now married with a newborn daughter. My friend and her husband have three dogs, including that lucky terrier who made their family possible in the first place.
Volunteering can be a great way for singles to expand their social circle and potentially meet someone special. It could be a cute date, or it could be a furry companion — either way, the volunteer work can lead to new love.
Since its establishment in New York City in 2015, Muddy Paws has seen many touching stories unfold. The team calls them “happy tails.” Every Sunday, the Muddy Paws team posts on social media to share a happy tail from one of its volunteers or adopted dogs. These stories often involve singles and couples who went looking for the missing piece to their homes and found the perfect fit at the rescue.
Muddy Paws is a volunteer-led nonprofit that is entirely reliant on fosters to house and care for its dogs. The rescue organization does not have a physical shelter. That means the team is proactive about recruiting, supporting, and uniting volunteers throughout New York City.
“The mission of Muddy Paws Rescue is to build and support a thriving community of dog-loving humans dedicated to ending unnecessary euthanasia of companion dogs,” said the Marketing Director Mallory Kerley. “We do this through shared learning and education, direct lifesaving, and continuous innovation.”
An animal welfare professional named Rachael Ziering, who was on a mission to save lives by organizing large-scale dog fostering in NYC, founded Muddy Paws in 2016. The nonprofit was built on four core values: Be positive, be responsive, be welcoming, and be supportive.
“We assume the best of everyone, foster trust and collaboration, and ensure that all internal and external communications reflect the positive tone of our organization,” according to the company’s mission statement.
Muddy Paws stays in constant contact with its volunteers and provides constructive guidance throughout the fostering or adoption process.
The Muddy Paws team works with open-intake shelters that have a contract with their respective county to take in every animal that comes through their doors. These shelters frequently reach capacity, and that’s why fostering can be critical to saving lives. Muddy Paws matches shelter dogs with fosters and prepares the pup for adoption.
“Every dog and puppy has a unique story, and we are so proud that we get to be part of that story,” Mallory said.
Fostering is a short-term service of housing a dog for days, weeks, or months until a suitable adopter steps in. Adoption is a full-time commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The team is committed to finding lifetime homes for its dogs, so a lot of work goes into making sure both the dog and the family are the right fit. Muddy Paws Rescue has completed more than 5,000 adoptions in just five years.
Muddy Paws currently has nine staff members who are passionate about its mission to save lives and spread love to families in New York City.
“We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences in animal welfare, but together it’s really an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Mallory said. “It’s important to recognize that we also have a large volunteer base that operates as an extension of our staff. Without them, we would not be able to do this work effectively.”
Muddy Paws has many opportunities for people to roll up their sleeves, get involved, and meet animal lovers in the Tri-State Area. The group hosts weekend adoption events and opportunities to sponsor transports to help dogs find their furever families. Its ever-growing volunteer network includes over 1,500 people with different skill sets, backgrounds, and availabilities.
A lot of singles form tight bonds by volunteering with Muddy Paws on a regular basis. Sometimes they start out as fosters and get more involved as they build relationships with the staff. Mallory told us it’s also common to see couples volunteering or fostering a dog together as a way of strengthening their connection.
“Fostering a dog can be quite the bonding experience,” Mallory said. “You’re working together to help a dog thrive and eventually find a loving family, so it is a unique and powerful way to grow as a couple.”
Muddy Paws has foster preparation resources to ensure its volunteers are ready to take responsibility for a puppy or a dog. Fostering can mean a major lifestyle change, especially for singles who don’t already have pets. It can be a challenge, but the rescue group provides guidance and support every step of the way.
Even singles who are unable to foster — perhaps due to their job or living arrangements — can still help Muddy Paws through other volunteer activities. Some volunteers help with the transport of the dogs to veterinary appointments or adoption events. Others lend their creative skills to work on photography, graphic design, or other marketing efforts for the rescue group.
“Any way that you can find a common denominator to be passionate about together is a great way to come together,” Mallory assured us. “We want people to know that you can volunteer as many or as little hours as you feel you are able, and that we will always value your contributions.”
Whether you’re staffing an adoption event or helping with donor management, you can do a lot to support the rescue team and help dogs find their furever families.
“It’s important to recognize your capabilities so that you are honest with yourself and don’t commit yourself to more than you can handle,” Mallory said. “Any time you can give is helpful!”
My friend went to a pet shelter because she wanted to help a good cause, and her volunteer experience changed her life. Within a few years, she went from a single woman playing with dogs on the weekend to a married woman taking care of a daughter and three fur babies. It just goes to show the wonderful stories that can unfold when people open their hearts and join a goodhearted community.
Muddy Paws has built a strong fostering community to care for dogs in need. Its success stories don’t just include adoptions — many human friendships and relationships have formed as well.
Like many animal rescue groups, Muddy Paws saw an increased interest in fostering and adopting pets during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it is facing a challenge to keep that spirit going as people return to their old habits. The Muddy Paws team is undaunted though. Its goal is to rescue 1,000 dogs in 2021 and continue to fine tune its lifesaving work by using innovative technology and good old-fashioned people power.
“We can only take in as many dogs as we have fosters for, so we are extremely grateful for our volunteers who open their homes to dogs in need,” Mallory said.