The GSRTX rescue gave home to 51 dogs for the 2020 year.
As the year 2021 begins, the nonprofit German Shepherd Rescue of Texas is reflecting on its first year as an organization, beginning its journey back in February of 2020.
According to the "about" section on its website, “GSRTX is a 501c3 foster-based, all volunteer, non-profit dog rescue in Texas. We are dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating German Shepherds from Texas shelters so we can find their happily ever after.”
Founders Kristin and Craig Hensley began their adventure hoping to save 50 dogs for the year.
“So it actually went rather well, although it was off to a rocky start, I guess ... As you kind of know, the world kind of shut down. It made it difficult, because you know, we weren’t really able to do in person events,” shared Craig. “We kind of just had to shift and focus online and just dig down and do the best we could. So as a result, we set our goal as 50 adoptions this year. We did 51. We’ve saved 61 dogs from the shelter.”
Although the organization was able to meet its year end-goal, the beginning was rough when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state. GSRTX took the time to focus on building a following in other ways.
“Somehow we still managed to turn around and kind of hit what we were hoping to accomplish. As a result, I actually think we came out a bit stronger because it made us kind of focus on different things. We kind of went online and focused really heavily on our social media presence. As a result, we’ve kind of grown an awesome community on Facebook,” Craig said.
Through the year, community members began offering their aid and volunteering in the gaps that the organization needed help in.
“We were really thankful that the rescue was one of the services that we were able to still do, one of the services that you’re still able to do because it’s needed,” Kristin said.
As the pandemic continued, shelters in the community were in desperate need of help, and some had to close their doors temporarily. According to Craig, some shelters were not able to take in animal surrenders out of precaution.
As shelters restricted their aid, GSRTX received many calls from all over the nation, seeking shelter for Shepherds.
“We actually had a lot of people call us. It was crazy because it got kind of bad for a bit. There was a lot of shelters that were not taking anything in because they didn’t wanna have any kind of contact with people. So what they were doing is that they were only picking up strays and weren’t taking in any kind of surrenders or anything that anyone had taken in their possession,” shared Craig. “Ellis County SPCA, I think we took about 30 dogs from them this year. Before they actually got purchased by the SPCA of Texas, it was our mission. We set up to help rural shelters.”
As the need from community shelters increased, the aid from the community also increased. Throughout the year, GSRTX gained foster families, and one couple even opened their home to 14 dogs.
“Some of the positive things this year that (were) really mind blowing, we were so happy to see how big our foster base also grew because a lot of people were staying at home, so we actually had a lot of people reach out wanting to foster, which in turn because more people were wanting to foster, it allowed us to save more dogs,” Kristin said. “So actually we have people that are some of our main fosters now that didn’t even know about fostering before the pandemic, and now they love it."
Through the rescue's care, one of the foster dogs has been able to go down the path of becoming a licensed K9 officer through the Sector K9 Midlothian organization.
Additionally, GSRTX has been able to gift starter kits to new foster families as they begin their journey fostering rescues, because of the community's immense support.
Although the Hensleys are extremely passionate about GSRTX rescue, this isn’t their full-time job. Both have careers and are deeply appreciative of the volunteers who have joined the team to lead the rescue toward success.
The founders of GSRTX have a goal to save 75 Shepherds by the end of 2021.
“Both my wife and I work full time. So for people to step up and be able to know that me and her both work, to be able to set up that appointment and just go pick up a dog from the vet, or medicine somewhere ... something as simple as that is very helpful,” shared Craig. “I think we want to go with something like 75 because we ... also want to do a lot more in the community. Personally, one of the one things I want to do is try to focus on some of the shelters around here and try to just maybe help them with some of their difficulties as well."
As they raise their goal of rescues, the founders also hope to gain volunteers in the new year.
“We’re most excited to meet with Shepherd lovers, people that want to be involved and rescue with us, helping the Shepherds that are in the shelter that don’t have a voice and being able to advocate for the breed and really get the message out there that ... you don’t have to go out there to a breeder in order to get an amazing dog," Kristin said.
To help the German Shepherd Rescue of Texas, visit https://campsite.bio/gsrtx . The organization has a set up wish list for community members and applications for fostering, and adoptions are also available.