New York Westie Rescue Saving Lives

    By on July 2, 2014
    • Egan (“Little Fire”), Smith’s sanctuary dog, was found during the severe winter storm Nemo, suffering from starvation and dehydration. Today he is loved, well cared for and remains mobile with his wheelchair.

    • Lacey is a recent rescue on her “Freedom Ride”. She is currently receiving medical care and when ready, will be available for adoption.

    Founded in August of 2012 by Mary Joan Smith, New York Westie Rescue is all-volunteer organization on a mission to rescue, provide medical care, rehabilitate, re-home and provide sanctuary to Westies in need. They also work to educate the public about the plight of abandoned dogs, the joys of providing a home for a rescue dog, and the facts surrounding shelter overcrowding and the truth about puppy mills.

    “We pledge to give the Westies we rescue the very best care possible while finding the best possible forever homes for them.”

    What is a Westie? A Westie is a West Highland White Terrier. Westies are adorable dogs, with big brown eyes, wagging tail and shaggy faces. Robust, friendly and spirited, a Westie loves companionship. A Westie is normally independent, assured and self-confident and can make a good watchdog. A Westie is devoted, loyal and builds a strong bond with its owner. Having a typical terrier prey drive, a Westie tends to be highly interested in toys, especially chasing balls and also exhibits inquisitive and investigative traits; it is usually on the move requiring good exercise. This is a small, sturdy terrier that is easy to train, and behaves well, as long as the owner is the “leader of the pack”.

    What inspired you to start a Westie Rescue? Smith says “Shakti was my own Westie that I got in 2001 when her owners neglected her and wanted to put her to sleep. My sweet little Shakti has given me so much love, joy, laughter and comfort… So if I can help another little dog to live, to receive medical care, to find a home and then bless another family with a best friend… why wouldn’t I want to do that?”

    How did the Rescue get started? Smith says she started with the financial support of the New England Westie Rescue, who helped to fund the medical expenses of the first rescue. She then created a Facebook page and held fund raisers, including auctions. The Rescue has grown from there, beginning within Wayne County and now reaching throughout New York State and into Pennsylvania. They continue to be a private rescue, using all donations to support the needs of Westies.

    How do you rescue a Westie? Smith says their dogs generally come from shelters or are owner surrenders. Some have been severely abused or neglected; most come with problems of some kind. The rescue provides pickup and transportation; once received the dog is immediately vetted and given medical care, spayed/neutered (if needed), vaccinated, groomed and microchipped, registered to the rescue as the primary contact for life. The dog is then fostered and evaluated for behaviorial issues, socialized and given any further medical care needed for recovery.

    Once deemed healthy enough for adoption, the placement process begins to match the dog with the perfect family. “We have a very strict adoption policy and conduct rigorous screening of potential adopters. We check references, including their vet; then conduct a home visit, interviewing each family member, to ensure the dog is going to a safe environment. Only after we are satisfied, is the dog placed. They adopter(s) must sign a contract agreeing that if they are ever unable to properly care for the dog, they will return it to the rescue.” Once finalized, the adoptive family is listed as a secondary contact on the microchip.

    New York Westie Rescue provides sanctuary (when possible) for dogs who may be unadoptable due to poor health, age or other problems. The Rescue has some sanctuary dogs; Smith has three in her home: Lola, Merlyn and Egan. These are dogs that were too old or had too many health issues to make them attractive to potential adopters. They will live out their days within permanent foster home.

    How can someone help New York Westie Rescue? “We are 100% volunteer based and depend entirely on private donations.” You can help by making donations, assisting with volunteer efforts or fostering a Westie.

    “The average cost of rehabilitating a rescue dog is between $900 and $1200, and in some cases, it can exceed that if a dog has special needs. A good example is one of our sanctuary dogs, Lola, who was an out of control diabetic, was blind, had severe digestive issues, as well as other problems. She is now regulated and has received surgery to restore her sight – all in all, we probably have close to $7000 in medical costs invested in her. She is a very loving, loyal little dog, but she also requires careful attention to her medical needs”.

    Any closing comments? “My biggest frustration is that people view animals as disposable. After years as a loving family pet, when they get too old, or develop a medical condition that requires care, too many people throw them away.”

    “Someone asked me why in the world would I take on a project like starting a dog rescue, and basically told me they thought I was nuts. My answer: Because I believe that we MUST give back in some way… There are so many animals out there that need to be rescued, why would I turn my back? Because to NOT do something is unacceptable to me. No, I’m not wearing rose colored glasses. I know that the work will be hard, heartbreaking at time, frustrating at others, and that money will not fall out of the sky. I also know that it will give me moments of unparalleled joy and satisfaction. I also believe that there ARE good people in this world that will open their hearts and their wallets to save an animal… So you can call me crazy, nuts, eccentric or anything else that you want; but while you’re doing that, won’t you please open your heart and help when you can?”

    For additional information, go to or “Like” New York Westie Rescue on Facebook.

    Join in on the conversation.



    1. John

      July 4, 2014 at 6:42 am

      I began supporting this fine organization when Lola stole my heart. They do great work and deserve your support.

      • Admin

        July 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm

        Very glad to hear any stories of community support John. I’m sure the members of the Westie Rescue are thankful for your support.