Have no fear, ÜberDog is here

by Sarah Melton

ÜberDog Foundation is not an organization with just one mission.

The Charlotte-based nonprofit organization has many outreach programs to help homeless animals and the people who love them. Volunteers provide funds and supplies to struggling shelters, re-home animals when their military-member owners are called away and educate the public on proper care and training for their pets. The foundation will assist shelters and families within a three-hour radius of the Charlotte area.

“We started with a list of 15 things and said, ‘OK, we can’t cover everything,’” said Melissa Gill, executive director of the foundation. “There is a lot more we want to do, but we realize, even now, we are basically four to six people.”

The organization was founded about two months ago by Gill, chief operating officer of a consulting firm; Sheley Revis, a local physician; Tessa Decker, a registered nurse; and Greg Bellew, owner and head trainer of ÜberDog Trainer. Together, the four founders own 16 rescue dogs and each volunteer with other rescue organizations.

“The four of us got together and said, ‘Where do we think the biggest gaps are?” Gill said. “We knew that from pulling animals at various shelters that a lot of them are operating on really small budgets and just need help feeding the animals.”

Rural shelter assistance

In March, the volunteers delivered more than 500 pounds of dog and cat food, dog houses, cedar chips and other supplies to Ashe County Animal Shelter after their regular donations from Walmart were in jeopardy. However, thanks to an agreement with ÜberDog, Walmart will continue donating to the shelter.

Last month, Greene County put out a plea for help on Facebook, and luckily, ÜberDog answered. ÜberDog delivered 441 pounds of dog food, 42 pounds of cat food and 200 pounds of cat litter to the shelter. Support from the community began pouring in and the shelter’s budget jumped from $300 to $1,700.

“Up till now, food donations came from people we knew in the community,” Gill said. “But we’ve been getting random phone calls from people all over the place saying, ‘I want to help. I want to help.’ It is really amazing.”

The Phoenix Fund

Phoenix was a dog that the foundation fostered and pulled from the Lancaster County Animal Shelter in South Carolina. Phoenix had severe mange, ear, eye and skin infections, but ÜberDog managed to nurse him back to health in three months. Unfortunately, Phoenix got the parvovirus and his immune system wasn’t strong to fight it off.

ÜberDog lost Phoenix, but decided to honor him by offering grant funds to rescue groups needing to provide emergency care for dogs with medical issues caused by abuse and neglect. Most shelters with small budgets are forced to reject wounded animals or have to euthanize them first over the other animals.

“We can’t cover the whole thing, but if a rescue takes in a dog and we give them several hundred dollars in donations, it’s a lot easier for them to go to the vet and say, ‘I’ve got a couple hundred dollars up front. Can you work with me on the rest?’” Gill said. “Most vets are good with that.”

Military Mutt program

Many times, military personnel are forced to leave their pets behind when deployed. But not everyone has a family or friend to watch their animals or can afford to place their dog in a boarding facility for such a long period of time. In those instances, the animals might end up at a shelter and risk being euthanized.

“If someone is deploying and they have no one to leave their animals with, we can put them in touch with long-term foster care, or if they have no other choice and feel like they need to re-home the animals, then we have rescue groups we work with,” Gill said.

A similar program provides companion animals to families that include a mentally or physically disabled member or autistic child.

Funding sources

ÜberDog Foundation plans to hold fundraising events throughout the year and partner with home improvement companies, pet-related businesses and local restaurants. ÜberDog Training will give $50 of every training fee to the foundation.

The foundation plans to set up donation bins for food and supplies at Dogtopia in Charlotte and other locations. Donations from the public and more volunteers are needed.

“To me, the real beauty of what we do is we really try to cover quite a few areas and we are very focused on making sure we can stretch donations as far as we can stretch them,” Gill said.

Want to get involved?

You can catch ÜberDog Foundation volunteers at the following events: May 6-7, South Carolina Strawberry Festival, Fort Mill, S.C.; May 14-15, Waxhaw Spring Fest, Waxhaw; May 14, Walk for Paws, Belmont: and May 29-30, Carowinds, Charlotte.

For more information, go to www.uberdogfoundation.org.

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