An interview with Sunne Wiginton (2010)

Austin Sheltie Rescue News An interview with Sunne Wiginton (2010)

Sierra, one of our rescues adopted in 2010, participated in a photo shoot with Patty Mora Photography.  They needed a blond longhaired dog and thanks to Beth’s friend, Cindy, they heard about Sierra.  This is one of the photos of Sierra and Katelyn.  They also wanted to know about Austin Sheltie Rescue and sent me a list of questions.  Here are model Katelyn’s questions and Sunne’s responses:

1) How did you get involved with Sheltie Rescue?

In a nutshell, I saw a need and just went to work.  The long story….When I retired I discovered shelties and e-mail user groups/e-lists.  I kept reading about the need for rescue of all pets and started getting interested. 

One day in 2003 my son was at TLAC (Town Lake Animal Center) and there was a sheltie there.  He checked with the folks there to find out what was going to happen with the sheltie.  He was told that the sheltie was on hold for Houston Sheltie Sanctuary (HSS), he then called me and told me what he found out.  I did a little research and found their website and contacted them offering to help. 

Through HSS I met Fran Carr, who had adopted a sheltie from them, and Jennifer Steede who also had a rescued sheltie.  And it was with these 2 wonderful ladies that Austin Sheltie Rescue began to take form.

2) How did sheltie rescue in Austin get started?

With time I became involved with the Shetland Sheepdog Club of Austin and found that there was actually an Austin Sheltie Rescue but the problem was that it was operated out of Waco and it was very difficult for the rescuer to actually work the Austin shelter.  Houston Sheltie Sanctuary started covering the Austin area utilizing Fran, Jennifer and myself.  The originator of Austin Sheltie Rescue eventually turned everything over to us and we started working under the umbrella of Houston Sheltie Sanctuary.  This was in the later part of 2003.

3) How long has it been active?

In October of 2005 Austin Sheltie Rescue filed the necessary paperwork with the state and the federal government to become our own entity and to become a 501c3 non-profit corporation.  On January 1, 2006 we were on our own, with Houston Sheltie Sanctuary there if we needed help.  Since January 1, 2006 we have rescued 151 shelties from local shelters, surrendered from owners, and found as strays.  We have been able to do this because of the wonderful network of volunteers that help us with rescuing, transporting, fostering, nurturing, healing and providing loving and caring homes.  We could not have done it without these volunteers…they are wonderful and they are tireless.  

4) What is your best memory from working with Shelties at the Sheltie Rescue?

My best memory would have to be Toni.  Toni was a 2 year old tri sheltie that was seized as part of a cruelty investigation by San Antonio Animal Control.  In January of 2009 they contacted us and asked if we would take this sheltie into our rescue and they agreed to drive her from San Antonio to Austin. 

When I met Toni she was scrunched into a metal cat crate, the A/C officer gave me the crate and the sheltie.  I will say that it was almost impossible to tell this little thing was a sheltie.  She had almost no hair and her skin looked awful.  The San Antonio A/C folks later told me that when they picked her up she had a mixture of lime (the concrete kind) and either motor oil or lard on her face, they had to sedate her to remove this mixture from her face and head. 

Next stop was our vet.  We opened the crate and unfolded this little sheltie.  It was quickly determined that she had sarcoptic mange (scabies), was loaded with fleas, was intact and that she was heartworm positive.  Our vet immediately started treating the scabies, which took several months, she had to be isolated and boarded at the vets clinic during the treatment for the scabies and to be spayed, this took 2 or 3 months.  When she was finally cured of the scabies she came to my home for fostering and to start heartworm treatment.  During this entire time we wondered if she would ever have hair growth on her face or body. 

We found beneath all of the pain and misery was a loving, beautiful sheltie with a bouncy personality, one that loved children, was very gentle and was very sociable. Toni flew thru the heartworm treatment and during this time met a family that would turn out to be her furever (forever) home.  Everyone that met Toni fell in love with her wonderful sheltie spirit, all of our volunteers were going by the vet clinic to visit with her and help to amuse her during her isolation period.  They would take sweaters up for her, since she had hardly any fur and it was wintertime, we were concerned she would get chilly. 

5) Sierra’s story

Sierra was a breeder dog for a puppy mill outside of Austin.  A woman contacted me and asked if she could get these 2 shelties out of this breeding situation would we take them.  I said Yes, of course.  It seems that these 2 girls had regularly had litters but they just didn’t produce very many puppies, were not profitable and the owner was willing to sell them.  The woman bought the 2 dogs, Sierra (6 years old) and Mariah (4 years old, pictured left) (not their original names), and we found out that Sierra was the mother of Mariah and they both had had several litters. 

As always…first stop was our vet’s clinic.  The 2 dogs were very lucky because they were basically healthy and were heartworm negative.   We quickly had both girls spayed and found out that they were in heat, but not pregnant.  We also updated all of their vaccinations.  To our surprise Sierra turned out to be very sociable and very loving.  This is unusual for dogs in puppymills.  Usually they are so freaked by humans they hide and shiver.  

Everyone that has met Sierra has commented how socialized she is and her wonderful  and loving personality.  Sierra had a possible new home within 48 hours of coming in to rescue.  We are holding her a little longer in the program to insure she is in good health and that she has no issues.  She will be going to her new home on the 22nd of August.  Mariah, the younger sheltie is shy but is accepting human touch and is also learning to love and play.


Both Sierra and Mariah (now Bella) were adopted in the fall of 2010.

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