By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer
WASECA — Some Waseca-area dog lovers have kicked off fundraising efforts to establish a dog sanctuary focused on caring for Pekingese with health or behavior issues that leave them unlikely candidates for adoption.
Heidi Eckers is looking to purchase a Waseca doggie daycare/boarding facility called Yappy Campers and set aside part of the facility as a dog sanctuary for up to 20 animals. Yappy Campers would continue as a for-profit operation that would help subsidize the nonprofit sanctuary, which would be owned by Peke N Chin Midwest — a Minnesota-based small dog rescue organization.
Currently, Peke N Chin can only accept a dog if a foster home is available, Eckers said. The sanctuary would offer a place for dogs with such severe neurological, mobility or health issues that their care is beyond what a foster home could provide.
“It basically provides them a safe place for the rest of their life,” she said. “... We want to help them live in comfort for the last period of their lives.”
Under the plan for the sanctuary, a residence attached to the property would provide free room and board for several unpaid volunteer staff, according to Eckers. The fundraising aims to generate at least $30,000 for a down-payment on the property — but hopefully $100,000 to avoid the need for a mortgage.
Why Pekingese? Eckers said sanctuaries exist for various breeds, but the organization sees a need in regard to the 2,000-year-old breed of toy dogs originating in China. The breed has a tendency toward health problems including blindness and back problems.
The initial fundraising event on Saturday at Yappy Campers included a doggy costume contest, a silent auction, a vendor fair and other events.
“It just has blossomed into this mission and plan, and we’re pretty excited about the reality of what’s happening now,” she said. “... I think this has the potential to be a wonderful, inspirational place for people in this area.”
As work continues to get the sanctuary established, Eckers had one last message for people in the area.
“We’re always looking for foster homes,” she said.
More information is available by e-mailing Eckers at firstname.lastname@example.org.