LAKE PLACID - A local charity has grown from one donation jar on a store counter to a rescue operation that has saved the lives of hundreds of dogs.
The Joshua Fund began in 2011, the inspiration of a local man who wanted to memorialize his dog, which suffered from illnesses, by saving other dogs in similar situations.
Dan Bain, owner of the Adirondack Corner Store at Cascade and Newman roads, is the founder of the Joshua Fund, a group dedicated to rescuing dogs from being euthanized, paying for their medical treatment and assisting local dog owners with their pets' life-threatening conditions.
Photo provided by The Joshua Fund
"Joshua was a dog that I had rescued back in 2005," Bain said. "He was a dog that had a lot of medical issues when I rescued him."
The yellow Labrador retriever, then 9 years old, suffered from a seizure disorder and weight problems, which took a tremendous toll on Bain financially, he said.
"We worked through all of them, including his weight," he said. "We never expected him to live past 10 or 11 years old."
Joshua, known as the Adirondack Corner Store mascot, lived to the age of 14. After the dog's death, Bain decided he wanted to do something to remember him.
"So what we did was start a medical fund, nothing more than a jar in the store that people could dump their pocket change into it," he said. "If a member of the community had a dog they could not afford the medical care for, we paid for it. What our guideline was, was that we provided assistance for local dogs' life-threatening medical conditions."
From that humble beginning, the Joshua Fund has grown to about 20 donation jars around Lake Placid. The group's Facebook page has shot up from around 200 likes last year to more than 25,000 currently. People donate to the group from around the world, as far away as Australia and India. The Joshua Fund filed to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit group last year and expects to soon be authorized by the government so donations to it can be tax-exempt.
"I start the day out reading Facebook as soon as I wake up, and I get 200 requests to take dogs: These dogs are going to die today, these dogs came in yesterday, these puppies are going to die today," Bain said. "That's how I generally start my day. We do what we can. We take the dogs that we can."
Bain said the group mostly rescues dogs from animal shelters in the South.
"In the last year we've pulled 120 dogs," he said. "One shelter we were dealing with in central Tennessee was euthanizing between 10,000 to 15,000 dogs a year. ... The 120 dogs we pull out does not put a dent into it."
Dr. Susan Benway is a veterinarian who has worked closely with some of the Joshua Fund's rescued dogs.
"I've treated some of the dogs that have come up as part of the rescue," Benway said. "Most of what I see are surgical: Sometimes they have involved tumors that need to be removed or orthopedic conditions that require surgical intervention."
The cost of medical treatment for each dog differs. Heartworm is one problem that's costly, Bain said.
Benway said the Joshua Fund is unique because of the "size and scope" of what it has accomplished.
"Certainly the Joshua Fund is unique here for what it's been able to do to help local dogs with really major medical conditions that could only be helped through what the Joshua Fund could do," she said. "(Rescued) dogs would have to be euthanized or try to live a life without much quality if it was not for what the Joshua Fund is doing."
When a dog is pulled from an animal shelter, it often receives medical treatment, and then the group immediately begins to promote the dog on its Facebook page and website to find a willing adopter. The Joshua Fund does not have a physical shelter where dogs can be housed. It utilizes a network of middlemen, veterinary offices and boarding facilities to care for and transport the animals.
"It's amazing to see: This truck opens up, and there is 150 dogs in it," he said, "dogs that would have died."
About six months ago, one rescued dog stood out. It was a yellow Lab that had been shot in the eye by a gun and blinded. Bain doesn't know why or how it was shot.
"They open the door at White River Junction (Vermont), and this dog comes flying out," Bain said. "He comes to me. I never met this dog before. He comes to me, and there's 25 people waiting for the dogs."
Bain immediately adopted the Lab, now named Logan.
He has a total of 11 dogs, but all of them have a lot to live up to, he said.
"(Logan) is probably one of the most loyal and thankful dogs I've met in my life," Bain said, "next to Joshua."