Princeton rescue group saves dogs from U.S. kill shelters

Our Last Hope brings in and adopts out between 150 and 200 per year

Moka was picked up in a desert in California, and now enjoys life at a rural Princeton home. (Contributed)

Moka was picked up in a desert in California, and now enjoys life at a rural Princeton home. (Contributed) .

Moka was caught in a California desert earlier this year.

“She had obviously been out there surviving on her own for months,” said Jeneane Ruscheinsky, who operates Our Last Hope Animal Rescue based in Princeton.

The mixed-breed pup was delivered to a dog kill shelter in that state. “She was labelled as a feral dog,”said Ruscheinsky.

Moka is just one of thousands of dogs that has been claimed and recovered from kill shelters in the U.S. by Our Last Hope.

After being transported to Princeton by a network of volunteers who drove her from one state to the next, passing her off until she arrived in B.C., she began a period of recovery.

Today, she lives happily on a rural property near town, with a wide open spaces and even a creek where she can splash.

“At one point, we thought she might be unadoptable,” said Ruscheinsky.

Moka was initially homed with a foster family in Penticton, for assessment.

It then became clear she’d developed an aversion to men and that placement did not work out.

Back in Princeton, Ruscheinsky worked hard to gain her trust and find her the right forever home. “She’s absolutely a wonderful dog who just wanted to feel loved again.”

Moka started having ‘play dates’ with a family near Princeton, graduated to sleepovers and was eventually adopted.

“We do a lot of one-on-one with our families. We do a lot of coaching and that helps make it a success. It’s too hard on dogs to have them bounce back and forth a lot. It’s not fair to the dog or the families,” she said.

Ruscheinsky founded Our Last Hope in 2011, following news reports of the killing of 56 sled dogs in Whistler.

“We are still going on and the need is still out there. If there wasn’t good people wanting good family dogs, if there weren’t adopters out there we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Our Last Hope, a non-profit group, brings in and adopts out between 150 and 200 per year. Most of them come from ‘high-kill shelters” south of the border.

Potential adoptive families often come to Our Last Hope through pet search websites affiliated with the group.

Related: Princeton woman runs group saving dogs from certain death

“We personalize our adoptions and we support for life. It’s about getting the right match, which is in everybody’s best interest,” Ruscheinsky explained.

Some dogs are adopted locally, while others are taken in by families as far away as Alberta.

In most cases, it takes three weeks for Our Last Hope to assess a dog, which will be neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and often requires additional vet care and dental care.

The adoption fee of $750 helps cover some of those costs, and the group sometimes receives grants to keep it going.

She described the work as stressful and sometimes exhausting, especially when it comes to vetting adoptive families and dealing with social media.

Overall, however, it is rewarding.

“The good people make up for that. They are the ones that keep us lifted.”

Presently Our Last Hope is looking for a home for Grimace. He’s a 65 pound four-year-old dog who is friendly and social and even knows some commands, however he could benefit from obedience training and needs a fenced yard. “Grimace is a rescue favourite and is a excellent companion for the right family who is home more than not and enjoys the bully breed for their affection, zoomies and wiggles,” said Ruscheinsky.

Contact Our Last Hope at 604-749-7150, or visit if you are interested in meeting Grimace.

Related: Ninety-seven distressed animals seized from rural Princeton property

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