Volunteer Vicki Burkett

Volunteer Vicki Burkett, left, and Wagging Our Way Dog Rescue founder Kim Boehm are picky when it comes to choosing their pets’ new “parents.” 

An animal rescue in Chandler is adopting out pets a bit differently in order to keep the animals from coming back. 

Wagging Our Way Dog Rescue was founded in 2017 for small dogs from across the East Valley. The nonprofit’s founder, Kim Boehm, said her organization attempts to be more private and low-key than other animal rescues. 

The public won’t see Boehm and her volunteers showcasing adoptable dogs out in the community, she said. If someone wants one of the nonprofit’s dogs, they will have to put in some effort.  

“They will have to be searching for dogs to find us,” Boehm said.

WOW has a website with a listing of adoptable dogs it currently has in foster homes. They’ve got Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers and mixed mutts of various breeds. Some are puppies and others are nearing retirement age in dog years. 

Boehm said she wants to make sure their dogs are matched with the right family. This is why her nonprofit doesn’t go out seeking adopters. 

It’s up to the family to come to WOW and find the dog that suits them. 

They’re trying to avoid “impulse” adoptions, Boehm explained and prevent families from adopting dogs they don’t have the time or patience to care for.

Boehm has been working with animals for years and got tired of seeing individuals adopt an animal at a community event and then return the dog a few days later. 

Once they realize all the responsibility that comes with caring for a pet, Boehm said they often decide to reverse their decision. 

She wanted to develop a system more thoughtful and beneficial to both the dog and adopter. 

All the nonprofit’s potential adopters must fill out an application and be vetted by volunteers. Boehm said they will typically contact an adopter’s veterinarian and find out how they’ve treated other pets.    

If the applicant seems like an appropriate fit, then WOW will invite the adopter to meet the dog at its foster home. 

It’s particularly important to Boehm to not keep their rescue dogs in cages. They depend on volunteers to foster all the organization’s dogs until they’re adopted out. 

Placing the dog in a home will gradually socialize the animal, Boehm said, as opposed to being cooped up in a shelter or kennel.

“They’re in a normal, loving, family environment,” Boehm said.

Many of the organization’s dogs have come from the streets and aren’t accustomed to regularly interacting with people, she added.

“Some of them don’t even know what a collar or leash is and they’ll spin in circles,” Boehm said.

Janis Hoge, one of WOW’s volunteers, recalled one dog they rescued who had a broken pelvis and would hide from everyone.

“She was just terrified of everything,” Hoge said.

They invested the resources to rehabilitate the dog until she was suitable for adoption and eventually found a new home. It’s all about the dogs, Hoge added, and making sure they’re treated with the dignity they deserve.

WOW works with shelters in Maricopa and Pinal counties to rescue dogs on euthanasia lists. 

The Valley was once known for having drastic euthanasia rates as shelters struggled to clear overcrowded shelters. Maricopa County has resorted to shipping dogs to rescues outside Arizona in recent years, which has helped to curb euthanasia rates. 

Boehm said they additionally receive dogs surrendered by owners unable to care for them or lost dogs picked up in the community.  

She’s on a mission to get every dog in the county micro-chipped, so no owner will have to go through the trauma of losing their companion. But until this happens, Boehm is content with rescuing any dog needing her help. 

WOW already adopted out hundreds of animals in the last two years, she said they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


Information: wowdogrescue.org. 

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