Not many animal rescue organizations can save and find loving homes for 800 dogs, all without ever having a central location. Barks of Love is one of the few that can. Barks of Love founder Ashley Cunningham first got involved with dog rescue when she began fostering dogs after moving to California. When the group she was working with closed down due to lack of funding, she decided to start her own non-profit, and Barks of Love was created in 2008. Cunningham was committed; she fostered up to three dogs at a time in her one bedroom apartment, and the organization grew from there. Barks of Love is unique from other non-profit rescues in that they are “committed to matching dogs with ideal foster families that will give them the best chance at permanent, loving homes”, according to Cunningham. In addition, Barks of Love stays in touch with the adoptive families to make sure the dogs are doing well in their new homes. The entire staff is volunteer based, and all of them have a passion for helping dogs.
Cunningham hopes that one day Barks of Love can finally open up a location in which to conduct their main work. She describes her ideal space as more of a “doggy hotel” rather than a shelter, where prospective families can come visit the dogs during the day and then the dogs can go back home with foster families at night. Getting involved is easy. “You basically get to save a dog's life, play with it, snuggle with it, and we pay for all the costs,” says Cunningham. It’s an easy and fun way for college students to help make a difference.