Over the past 10 years, Underdog has kept thousands of animals off euthanasia lists and healthy.
Lauren Brinkman founded Underdog Pet Rescue 10 years ago because while she’s seen great things happen in the rescues and humane societies she’s volunteered for over the past decade, she’s also seen things she wanted to change. “I wanted to make rescue more accessible and approachable because I found that [some] felt like it was a very critical experience or they had to jump through a lot of hurdles.
Brinkman started by raising animals in his own home with the goal of saving 10 a year – but the first year Brinkman smashed that goal and saved 100 animals. Over the past 10 years, Underdog has kept thousands of animals off euthanasia lists and healthy. Brinkman is especially passionate about helping animals that need help the most and who might be considered outsiders.
In 2021, Underdog Pet Rescue rescued 1,822 dogs, cats and other critters, like guinea pigs. Along the way, Brinkman has worked side-by-side with veterinarians to ensure all rescue animals receive the necessary medical care, and she added in-house veterinary services to her business in 2017. Underdog now has 10 paid staff, including two full-time veterinarians. , two veterinary technicians and two assistants who care for animals in a 1,200 square foot rental space at 231 S. Fair Oaks Ave. Brinkman is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to move into a larger space and expand services, which will include providing homeless and low-income pet owners with affordable access to veterinary care in the Madison area. .
“People really want to do the right thing, I really believe, and give their animal the care it needs,” she says. “It’s just a matter of cost. It’s sometimes $1,000 to do dental work on a cat, and it’s often beyond the average person’s means.
This passion for helping animals and their owners dates back to when Brinkman got his first dog at age 23. “He really inspired me. I didn’t know animals were euthanized in our community to save space,” she says. “I delved into why people abandon animals and what services are needed. Foster rescue is really what I thought was needed 10 years ago when I started.
And there have been so many success stories since, including a senior poodle mix named Peter. He came from Milwaukee Animal Control with matted fur and fleas. “We got him cleaned up as much as we could, being a little old dog,” Brinkman says. “And I found these people who had only rabbits as pets before and wanted a dog now.” They adopted Peter, and he lived another five or six years. “They bought a house because they thought he wanted a garden,” Brinkman says. “They had a condo – and they bought Peter a house.”
Find other rescues in the area here.
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