After losing her beloved dog Maggie Mae in a car accident, Natalie Garcia—a TV host at the time—was devastated. But she took her grief and channeled it into her lifelong passion for animals, founding Maeday Rescue in Los Angeles. Over the course of seven years, she's saved hundreds of pups and helped them find their forever homes. We talked to her about the awesome work she's done and how you can help support the cause:
What was the first dog you had?
I had dogs growing up, but my first real dog was when I was 19, named Maggie Mae. She was my everything and lived with me in different states and went through everything with me that you do in your early twenties.
When did you begin your rescue efforts?
In 2010, as part of my job for a travel company as their animal coordinator, I would organize visits to local shelters. I fell in love with a dog named Pistache in Mexico and brought her back to foster her and find her a home in LA.
Why did you start Maeday Rescue?
After only two weeks of being back, I was driving with Pistache and Maggie Mae. We were hit on the freeway by an out of control SUV. My car flipped and in that moment my world changed forever. Both dogs disappeared from the accident and as I was rushed to the ER, I was helpless and couldn't immediately look for my pups. After a week of searching, we found Pistache—she was tired, but in good health. We then found Maggie Mae a few days after, dead on nearby train tracks. I was devastated, heartbroken and went into a pretty deep depression. I couldn't work due to my own injuries, so I started fostering for local rescues. I channeled my anger and sadness into starting my own rescue, named after Maggie Mae. Seven years later we've saved hundreds of dogs and have placed them in forever homes!
How does Maeday help rescue dogs?
We take in street dogs to shelter dogs and everything in between. MaeDay doesn't have a facility, we are foster-based. So when we hear of a dog in need, we put it out to our fosters and pair the dog with one of them. We also go to the shelter at least twice a month and get as many dogs out as we have room for. Then we take them to our vet, get them fixed, updated on all shots, take care of any medical issues, and they work with our trainer. Since they are in a foster home, they immediately get work on potty training, socialization or anything else they may need!
What do you find most rewarding about what you do at Maeday?
Seeing the dogs in their forever homes after seeing how they were when we first got them. I love to see the dogs and their new people a few weeks or months after they've been adopted, remembering how they came to us and now seeing how happy they are. Most of the dogs we get were set to be euthanized and to know that they are now loving life is the best feeling!
How can people help support the Maeday cause?
By donating on our site or by buying any of our MaeDay gear. We have 'Please Adopt' pins, tote bags, shirts & sweatshirts, all with either 'Save A Dog' or 'My Spirit Animal is a Mutt' on them. All proceeds go directly back to MaeDay dogs to help cover spay/neuter costs, care, any medical costs, supplies, and transportation.
How did Sheldon come into Maeday's world?
We saw Sheldon on the Facebook page of one of our local shelters and he looked like a mess. We have a weakness for a senior dog that is a little "off": He had patches of missing fur, was very thin and his blind eyes were pure white. We went to the shelter to meet him and found out he was rescue only, because he had other health issues, and was set for euthanasia by the end of that week. Despite being old, blind and unhealthy, he was a waggy happy boy! We couldn't leave him there, so we snatched him up.
Why did you decide to keep him at Maeday?
After we had him for about six months, he flourished so much in our household. He learned the layout of the whole house, could run up the stairs, knew our other two permanent dogs and became our cat's best friend. Because he was blind, it seemed like too much in his old age to learn yet another house layout and routine. I've basically turned into his seeing eye human and I couldn't give that up.
How does Sheldon like the Ollie food?
Sheldon loves his food! When he first came to us, he was picky with his food. Since we didn't know his history, it was hard to find him the right food. Plus, being an older guy, his teeth aren't in the best shape. Ollie has been perfect for him and he now can't wait for his food. He is very into his schedule and when it's time to eat, he stands by his bowl wagging his tail. He licks the bowl clean! He seems to have more energy too!