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Metro Detroit

May 6, 2013

Dog lovers work to rescue min pins around Michigan

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Tiki is one of many dogs the Internet Miniature Pinscher Service helps every year. The online network of volunteers arranges to have homeless miniature pinschers fostered, medically cared for and adopted.
Foster dog Tiki showers her foster mom, Linda DeVoll, of Roseville, a little love.
 

They’re little dogs, but they’ve got a big spirit.

That’s why so many people fall in love with miniature pinschers, said Amy Hein, of Roseville. Hein is the co-regional coordinator for the Michigan branch of the national Internet Miniature Pinscher Service. It was when her husband brought home an adopted miniature pinscher, or min pin, that she was first introduced to the breed and was drawn to their  sassy and sweet nature.

“I had never had a min pin before, and I kind of fell in love with the breed. So I was on Petfinder one day and I saw an ad for the IMPS and I filled out the application online and, in a few weeks, I had my first foster,” said Hein. “They’re feisty. They’re a little dog that thinks they’re a big dog. They’re sweet, they’re loving, they love to cuddle and snuggle, but they have attitude, too.”

That was five years ago, and since then, Hein has helped countless miniature pinschers find foster homes and adoptive families. IMPS is an online network of volunteer rescuers across the country and part of Canada who take the dogs in, foster them as long as needed, and then facilitate adoptions by promoting the adoptable dogs on websites such as Petfind er.com, Facebook and the IMPS site.

The homeless min pins can come from anywhere, she said, including owners who can no longer care for their animal. But more often than not, Hein said, IMPS takes min pins from shelters so the dogs can avoid possible euthanasia.

“We do try to pull more from shelters because dogs in shelters usually have a very limited time. There are some great shelters, but there are some shelters that are kill-shelters. If the shelters are full and they have no room, the dogs are put to sleep,” claimed Hein.

No matter what reason a pup is brought to IMPS, the nonprofit rescue network makes sure that the min pins they take in are not only cared for, but that they find loving homes and stay out of shelters for years to come.

“We do have an adoption application that is required. Once that is filled out, we talk to them on the phone and find out about their family. We do a vet check by calling their vet to make sure the dog they already have, if they have a dog, is up on their shots and micro-chipped and make sure they’re taken care of. We go and do house checks. We check their references and ask different questions to make sure the dog is going to be well taken care of,” she said.

To ensure that the dogs go to forever homes that truly last forever, IMPS even microchips each min pin and lists the organization as the primary owner. That way, Hein said, if the animal were to be turned over to a shelter in the future, IMPS would be notified and they could take the pup back.

“In our adoption contract, it says if you can’t keep this dog, you have to give him back to us. This way, we can go and pull them right away, and they won’t have the same fate they had when they started with us,” she said.

The microchip policy is one of the many reasons obedience trainer Linda DeVoll volunteers her time with IMPS.

“That’s why I like this rescue, because they (microchip) that way and there’s no way we can lose one of the dogs we adopt out,” said DeVoll, of Roseville. “I think this is one of the top-notch rescues I’ve ever volunteered for, ever. Not that the others were bad — they’re wonderful. But I just like the way they do it here with this organization.”

Part of DeVoll’s task as a training volunteer is to work with incoming min pins on obedience before the dogs are placed into foster homes. Though she’s been retired from professionally training show dogs for some time, her love for min pins motivates her to continue to donate her time and talents to IMPS. She has her own min pin at home, named Windy DeDog; a play on DeVoll’s own name. Windy was a recue who, after a little training and TLC from DeVoll, is now a therapy dog with St. John Macomb-Oakland hospital.

“(Windy) was just absolutely terrified of children, and now she loves them. I think once you see what these dogs can do, their potential is just above and beyond. Their intelligence is just out of this world,” she said.

Volunteers like DeVoll, the foster families like Hein’s, the drivers who transport the pups from shelters to foster homes to adoptive homes, and generous supporters who donate time, money and pet supplies are the people who make it possible for IMPS to continue its work. But according to Hein, the group is always in need of more help.

“We always need foster homes because there’s always a dog out there that needs help. Currently, we only have five foster homes, and a couple of those homes have had to take breaks because of things going on in their lives,” she said. “(We need) someone willing to help with transportation between foster homes or extra volunteers for fundraising. We’re just looking for somebody willing to give extra time.”

In addition to volunteers, IMPS is always accepting donations of new and used pet supplies, like food, leashes, toys, treats and more. And, like any nonprofit, cash donations are always welcome because, Hein explained, the veterinary care some pets need can be pricey. Donations are tax deductible, as is the adoption fee paid when taking in a miniature pinscher from IMPS. The emotional pay-off, though, is so much more valuable, Hein said.

“They’re just great little dogs. They’re spunky and they like to play and they like to burrow under the covers — they’re just a good little dog,” said Hein.

For more information, including how to volunteer, make a donation or adopt a miniature pinscher, visit www.minpinrescue.org.