Dolly’s Legacy continues saving the lives of homeless pets


Photo by Ami Van Gerpen

Dolly’s volunteer DeeDee Armstrong carries out a puppy from the Oklahoma transport vehicle, parked outside Hope Community Church on a sunny June 11th, 2020. DeeDee, who lives in Oklahoma, brought the animals to Lincoln herself, as she usually is the first healing hand that touches the dogs and cats when rescued from high-kill shelters.

Kerri Fowles Kelly is the creator of Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue, a non-profit organization located here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since their formation as a volunteer group in 2013, they have adopted out over 2,400 dogs and cats to residents in the state, with animals coming in from Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Missouri. These dogs and cats are found in overcrowded shelters, where their hopes of finding forever homes are little to none. It’s because of Dolly’s these animals get the opportunity of living with new families. But what inspired Kerri to make the move? Well, I asked her that question, and she told me a story about a rescued Pekinese named Dolly.
“We found Dolly in a terrible state. She, with her other siblings, had all sorts of problems going on with them healthwise. […] It was so heartbreaking such things happen to such sweet dogs. We got them rescued, thank goodness, and I had the pleasure of taking in Dolly into my own house. […] She passed away a couple of years later, at around 13, I believe. It was then that I created the Legacy, in honor of Dolly, and the things she’s taught me during the last few years of her life. She didn’t live long after being rescued, compared to the larger portion of her past inside a cage, but I could see in her eyes during these final moments that she was grateful. Grateful, and happy.”
As a proud volunteer of this organization, I can confirm to readers that the work Dolly’s does is beyond extraordinary. Extraordinary in the sense that, without state funding, they manage to take in transports from fundings gained through animal adoption and charity runs. 100 percent of their proceedings go into caring for these neglected creatures. And care isn’t limited to just accepting donations. Dolly’s is a foster-based organization, where families take animals into their homes from various situations and raise them till they’re ready for adoption. It’ll surprise you by how many dogs and cats they find abandoned on the side of roads, caught in the middle of thunderstorms and blizzards, scared for their life. Ages range from senior animals of 13 or 14 years, to as young as a few weeks old with puppies and kittens needing to be bottle-fed. But there’s always a dog or cat for everyone.
Emily Walter is the adoption coordinator for Dolly’s Legacy and is in charge of organizing adoption days for fosters and potential adopters. I asked her what she loves most about her position in this rescue. “I just love seeing the growth of these dogs and cats after living in foster homes.” Dolly’s has a transport day once or twice a month, where they load animals from overcrowded shelters into vans and drive to Lincoln. The journey takes many hours, and many rests stop for the animals to get water and a chance to stretch. They don’t realize what’s happening to them; early morning they’re taken out of cages and loaded into a van, then hours later, arrive in an area surrounded by many strangers. They’re terrified and confused, and it’s where the healing hand of foster families comes into play. “When I first see each dog and cat, they’re behavior contrasts with what they are when showing up to these appointments. It’s the beauty of fostering!”
Fostering is one of the ways you can help rescues like Dolly’s continue their work. You can bring dogs or cats to stay in your home, and nurse them till they’re ready for adoption. If you don’t have the time to commit to fostering, volunteering at events and fundraisers is also helpful. It offers good community service as well! But anything as simple as a small cash donation can still go a long way in making sure these animals get their second chance in life.
The next entry will include my personal experience when fostering rescue dogs, and what two puppies taught me regarding the most simplest things in life.