Pam Weiner has always loved dogs of every size and breed, but when she met her husband Bruce Weiner, she would have never guessed his surname would predict her future leading a wiener dog rescue.
Pam Weiner is president of the Dachshund Rescue South Florida, a nonprofit organization that rescues dachshunds and dachshund mixes and places them with foster families until they are ready to be adopted.
She became involved with the organization 10 years ago because her husband’s veterinary practice, Dr. Bruce’s Animal Hospital in Cooper City, had been treating dogs from the organization.
DRSF was founded in 2009 under different leadership, but Weiner took over as president in 2014.
Now in her seventh year as president, Weiner has become a human personification of the rescue and works seven days a week, 365 days a year to keep the rescue’s mission alive.
She is a high school math tutor full-time, but she said there are only a few hours in the day where DRSF does not occupy her time. When she needs to unwind, she can always count on her seven beloved dachshunds, all of which were rescued through the organization, to give her that much-needed break.
Each year the organization rescues hundreds of dogs locally, but the organization also regularly rescues dogs in Puerto Rico where Weiner said there are not many resources for strays.
DRSF occasionally also rescues dogs internationally from countries like China, South Korea and Brazil. To make all this possible, DRSF raises approximately $750,000 annually in donations.
At any given time, Weiner is responsible for managing the veterinary care of 50 to 60 dogs.
She oversees the medical care of every dog that enters the organization, so she speaks with several veterinarians and specialists every day, on top of managing the rescue’s emails, Facebook, and Instagram accounts and convening regularly with the five other women on the organization’s board.
She also checks in with dogs at their foster homes daily to ensure they are doing well.
“Every single animal we meet is different and I treat them as individuals, I only try to do what is best for the dogs,” said Weiner.
Because many people who begin as fosters end up adopting, they go through the same process as adopters do.
The first step to becoming a foster is completing an application, then interviewing with a board member, providing personal references and finally a home visit.
Due to the pandemic, home visits have gone virtual. Dogs spend anywhere from 40 to 45 days on average in foster care before they are adopted.
Since the organization does not have a facility, people reach out to Weiner through social media from all over the world.
DRSF has raised over $15,000 to rescue 12 dogs from China’s meat industry. Rescuers in China offered to help send the dogs over to the United States, but the organization was responsible for raising the money to rescue the dogs.
Weiner is always ready to rescue an animal in need in her big blue pickup truck, dubbed by DRSF Treasurer Jennifer Hessley as “the Pambulance.”
Hessley met Weiner through the organization and the pair have been great friends ever since. The rescue does not travel to rescue dogs because it is costly, but during their time together at DRSF, Weiner and Hessley have traveled as far as Alaska to rescue a dog in need.
On another occasion, the pair drove to Atlanta on Christmas Eve to rescue a dog who had been saved from South Korea’s meat industry.
Weiner and Hessley even created a Facebook live segment called “Live from the Pambulance” where DRSF followers were given a firsthand look at what it is like being out on a rescue mission. The organization’s Facebook page has now reached over 200,000 followers.
There, people can see pictures of the dogs and follow them on their journeys step-by-step from when they are first rescued, up until they finally reach their new homes.
The rescue relies on donations, so Hessley and Weiner said it is important to the rescue for its followers to see their donations come full circle.
Every time someone donates, they get a personalized email thanking them and informing them of how the contribution was used at the rescue. Hessley said without Weiner’s personality, connections, leadership and management skills, the rescue would not be where it is today.
“She never misses anything, she has an incredible relationship with the vets, and the foster families love her,” said Hessley.
Jenna Freitag, a supporter from Boca Raton who has adopted three dogs of her own from the organization, said DRSF made adopting her dogs a simple process. She said DRSF’s matchmaker reached out to her and helped match her with the dog that was the best fit for what she was looking for.
“I was very impressed with this organization and all their volunteers who helped us along the way,” said Freitag.
Each week Weiner goes through email blasts from shelters that show the pictures and total number of animals that will be euthanized that day if they are not rescued. Some have a cough or limp, others suffer from broken bones or serious illnesses.
Hessley said she admires how Weiner sees these photos every day and can still keep their mission in mind, knowing which dogs they can and cannot place.
“She is able to keep her wits about her and not go off the rails,” said Hessley.
Weiner said the hardest part about her job is realizing she cannot save every dog.
“There are some dogs that come in and are so broken and nothing can be done for them, but they deserve for someone to cry over them,” said Weiner.
Weiner said that person is usually her.
What she is most happy to accomplish through the organization is educating people and changing how they view rescue dogs.
“These dogs are not throwaways, they are not broken, they have just been dealt a bad hand by humans and it’s our job to change that,” said Weiner.