By Jackie Morrison
Tawana Couch, aka “The Animal Rescuer,” has been a passionate and fearless advocate for the plight of stray dogs in Texas for over 25 years. She is a living legend in the field of animal welfare and to date has rescued over 1,000 dogs, many of whom were fostered and later adopted into loving homes. Couch is the president of the Society for Companion Animals, a Dallas based organization that promotes humane treatment and aims to reduce pet overpopulation by eliminating backyard breeding. She has published two photo books on her work, The Dog Rescue and Loving Rescue Dogs. Filled with plenty of photos and stories, Couch describes the conditions that the animals were found in and gives updates on where they are now.
Couch sat down with TAILS to talk about her rescue work.
TAILS: Tell us about what you do.
Tawana Couch: I have been rescuing dogs for over 25 years. I rescue dogs from high kill shelters and stray street dogs. Most of the dogs I rescue from shelters are flown to no-kill shelters across the country where they are adopted out. I am the founder and president of the Society for Companion Animals, which is a non-profit organization they pays to have the dogs transported to safer locations. The street dogs need socializing most of the time so they are not always flown out, but sometimes they are adopted locally through other non-profits that do pet adoptions in the Dallas area.
What types of initiatives have you been involved in?
I have done lots of work with animal issues. Everything from running a mobile spay neuter clinic, helping get a new animal shelter for Dallas, setting up a free spay neuter program, and now rescuing dogs and flying them out to places that can adopt them.
What inspired you to start rescuing dogs?
I first learned about the plight for homeless dogs about 25 years ago when I started to feed some strays. The dogs ended up at a shelter where they were put down. I didn’t find out they had been euthanized until I was out of town. It was then that I got involved at the shelter and started saving dogs.
How do you protect yourself when you rescue dogs in unsafe areas?
When I go into rough places in Dallas I have to watch myself constantly. I am lucky that there are people living in these areas that watch out for me also. I have been threatened, yelled at, chased down, pulled over, etc., but it does not stop me from continuing to go into the area—the dogs need help, and many times I am their only hope. I truly believe I have angels, sprit guides, and other out-of-this world protection that watches out for me so I am not afraid.
What is a major issue you’re concerned with right now?
What I am seeing lately is people not wanting to fix even mix breed dogs; they rather try to sell the puppies and make a few bucks. There needs to be a major crack down on the selling of dogs at all levels. I see lots of purebred dogs in shelters all the time—just this weekend my friend wanted a purebred Shih Tzu and there were six at the shelter. One was only six months old; the others averaged a year or two in age.
What do you love about your work?
Rescuing dogs is rewarding and gives me a purpose here on Earth. When I save a dog it warms my soul and heart.
Jackie Morrison is an arts journalist in California. Bylines under Jackie Morrison (JackieMO) or Film Fatale who wrote a Meryl Streep Bio for Hyperink, now selling on Amazon.