Friend to the Four-Leggeds | New Spirit Journal News

Friend to the Four-Leggeds | New Spirit Journal News

Friend to the Four-Leggeds | New Spirit Journal News

Four-Legged Friends 
Published in New Spirit Journal News in May 2006, was one of the first features of Ginger’s Pet Rescue, still available online in full here. Author Krysta Gibson offers an inside look into how Ginger’s Pet Rescue founder Ginger Luke fell into dog rescue. In her words, “It all began with a dog who barked,” … a cry for help.

It all began with a dog who barked when Ginger‘s husband delivered dinner to a house near their Rickshaw Restaurant on North 105th Street in Seattle.

“My husband said that every time he went to this house, he could hear a dog barking continuously, but never saw a dog. I have been an animal lover my whole life, so I decided to make the delivery the next time,” says Ginger Luke of Ginger‘s Pet Rescue.  “I arrived at the house and heard the dog barking. I asked the man who lived there why the dog was barking so much.

The man said, “Oh, he’s a bad dog. He barks and he bites. He is mean and should be put down.”

“I suggested that he let me take care of the dog.  When he hesitated, I offered him $50 for the dog and he accepted. When he opened the door to the bathroom, I was expecting a big mean dog. Instead, out walks a little 15-pound weiner dog who ran straight to me and jumped into my arms. He looked at me as if to say, ‘Get me out of this house!’”

As she was driving home, Ginger noticed that the dog’s collar was so tight it was almost embedded into the dog’s skin. So she took it off. When she took the dog to the vet they discovered the dog was flea-infested, had serious ear mites, and an infected mouth. All of the dog’s teeth had to be removed.

A friend of Ginger‘s who owns Dandelion Dog Rescue had a friend who adopted this dog after paying the vet bill of several thousand dollars. The woman is deaf and Barney is now her service dog and goes everywhere with her. It was a happy ending to the otherwise bleak story.

Ginger wondered how many other dogs were in need of good homes and found herself starting to work with smaller animal shelters back in Eastern Washington, especially the shelter in Ellensburg. E-mails are exchanged daily and Ginger usually chooses one or two dogs to work with, sending emails to over 1000 people on her email list. These people forward the emails to people they know, resulting in a large effort to save what Ginger calls “Death Row Dogs.”

Platt Hound dog Katie was rescued from shelter in Ellensburg. Katie is a happy hound dog now!
Platt Hound dog Katie was rescued from shelter
in Ellensburg. Katie is a happy hound dog now!

“Many of these smaller shelters are old and outdated due to lack of funding. People don’t always think to go to the smaller shelters so these shelters end up having to put dogs down because they don’t have room to keep them and their adoption rates are lower than big cities. At the bigger shelters there are so many dogs that people get confused. And when you go to Pet Finder, there are thousands of dogs listed so people have a difficult time making a decision,” Ginger explains. By focusing her efforts on one to two dogs at a time, Ginger is successful in finding homes for them.

This is not the first time Ginger has been involved in animal welfare. She and her husband owned a wildlife sanctuary in Montana for several years. When her mother got sick and needed kidney dialysis, Ginger had to move the animals to a sanctuary in Colorado. “I really miss being with those animals. My work finding homes for dogs helps to fill that void.”

In the back of her restaurant Ginger has put up a display board showing dogs who are available for adoption as well as photos of some of her success stories. One of them is Yula. She found him a home the day before he was to be put down by a surprising morning email sent by a man named Chuck who ended up taking the day off to rush to Ellensburg to save her.  That was an 11th hour rescue and one of Ginger’s favorite stories. Yula being chained for 6 years turned out to be one of the best dog ever Chuck told Ginger.

Ginger was able to find homes for 28 dogs in the first seven week of doing this work. She says, “It’s like eating potato chips: you can’t stop with one!”

Up to date, she has now saved 54 dogs in 13 weeks now.

All dogs must be spayed or neutered prior to placement and she does a home visit as well as follow-ups to see how the adoption works out.

How does Ginger find time for this venture? She has owned the Rickshaw Restaurant for 30 years and has a great staff, she says. Even with being open seven days a week, 18 hours a day, she finds that rescuing dogs and helping to find them homes brings her a joy and satisfaction she can’t find elsewhere. She believes that if a person wants to find the time to do something, they can.

“Rescue dogs are the best,” Ginger says. “They need about 10 to 14 days to make the transition and then it is unconditional love all the way.”

To be put on Ginger’s e-mail list so you can be notified of dogs needing homes or of lost pets — or if you can provide a temporary foster home — write to Ginger at

Also, it is important to remember that dogs who have spent time in a shelter can have some behavior or health issues which might need resolving.  Be sure you are willing and able to handle such possibilities prior to adopting any particular dog.

There’s nothing like a rescued dog with a happily ever after tale to tell ~

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