WESTBROOK, Maine — It’s an unusual combination — with a band’s tow-along trailer and over 3,500 pounds of dog food, a Maine woman is driving from Westbrook to Arkansas to help rescue animals in need.
Alissa Laitres is a 36-year-old woman from Shapleigh, Maine. She has been volunteering with Westbrook-based group Fetching Hope Rescue for seven years and is the program’s current director.
Fetching Hope is a unique nonprofit in Maine, because it is partnered with another rescue group, Wynne Friends of Animals, in Arkansas. Since 2012, nearly 700 dogs have traveled from Arkansas to Maine to be placed in loving, forever homes.
“Helping a shelter dog gain courage or learn to live in a home is something truly amazing to witness,” Alissa said, explaining why the work she does means so much to her. “As a foster mom, I am always honored to be a part of a rescue dog’s journey from shelter life to home life.”
This year, after accumulating a lot of extra dog food over the winter, Alissa has decided to do something a little bit different for Fetching Hope’s Arkansas partner.
“We had more than we needed for our foster dogs, and I just kept thinking how great it would be if we could give our Arkansas partner shelter the extra dog food,” Alissa wrote in a Facebook post. “Dog food is one of their largest expenses, and they would really benefit from these donations. They don’t have the support or community resources like we do.”
The greater Westbrook community was excited to help out and donated over 3,500 pounds of dog food for Alissa’s cause. The only problem? How to get it all to Arkansas, since a transport company between the two rescue groups no longer existed.
“My wheels began to turn and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just drive the extra dog food down to Arkansas myself?'”
So Alissa recruited — or, as she jokingly put it, “bribed” — her husband to make the drive with her. They are using his band’s 6 by 10 foot tow-along trailer to carry the thousands of pounds of donated dog food.
The couple is starting the nearly 1,500 mile drive the morning of Thursday, April 11. The final count of dog food — 3,525 pounds.
Alissa hopes the donation will help bridge the two communities, which both have the common goal of helping rescue dogs in need.
“I often take on more than I can handle because I am a sucker for the cause,” said Alissa. “I take every opportunity that I can to be an advocate for these dogs. A lot of shelter dogs haven’t had the best start at life because humans have failed them. I make every effort to do right by these dogs, to ensure that they will never have to live in fear or neglect again.”
Best of luck to Alissa as she begins her long road trip for a greater good!