Unique Rescue ‘Jumped Into Action’ To Help Shelters Inundated With Pets Displaced By Wildfires

Recently, the fires near Los Angeles, California, inundated area animal shelters with displaced pets. One unique rescue agency swooped in to help. According to Rita Earl Blackwell, a professional photographer who volunteers with several shelters and rescue agencies in southern California, Paws For Life K9 Rescue “jumped into action.”

Blackwell told Shelter Me:

“They were able to take in 21 dogs from the West Valley Shelter straight into the Lancaster State Prison for temporary housing. While this of course would mean double the work for the inmates, the welcomed these dogs with excitement, care and love. Currently they are looking for fosters, adopters or rescues that can take these dogs on so they do not have to return to the shelter.”

Paws For Life K9 Rescue pulls at-risk dogs from open intake animal shelters in southern California. The dogs who are taken in begin a lengthy training program which prepares them for family life – some dogs even receive certification which allows them to become a service dog to a military veteran living with PTSD.

Several months ago, the rescue organization asked Blackwell if she would consider taking photos of their program “in action.” She tells Shelter Me, “I jumped at the chance!” Blackwell shared her observations of the rescue’s prison program:

“The first thing I noticed when I entered the prison yard that houses this program was the comradery amongst the inmates (trainers). Dogs see no color, and that has rubbed off on the guys. All of the trainers in this program are part of this special group and they share a connection.”


“They help each other with training, with dog care, with friendship. The focus is the dogs, and not the normal prison yard troubles.
Their genuine love for these dogs is quite apparent and I believe this program helps the men as much as it helps the dogs.”

According to Blackwell, there is a “long waiting list” of prisoners who want to become involved with the rescue’s training program. Those who hope to participate have to work for their chance to be involved.

Blackwell’s work as a volunteer photographer of homeless pets in the area has given her an up close view of the struggles facing the shelter system. She tells Shelter Me:

“I work with many shelters and see the plight of their systems and overcrowding, so being able to see this program in action is heart bursting. I hope all prisons can eventually start a program just like this.”

The rescue agency’s good work is expanding. Blackwell tells Shelter Me:

“Paws For Life K9 Rescue will be starting a new program with LA Animal Services to help train more shelter dogs and help save more lives.”

Find the Paws For Life K9 Rescue website here.

Find Paws For Life K9 Rescue on Facebook here.

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Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at Examiner.com for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.

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