Unforgettable Underdogs

Local dog rescue helping canines in need

by Tim Froberg

Cranberry is a 2-year-old female Bully mix that  is deaf.

Max is a 6-week-old mixed breed surrender that needs medication to control seizures.

Fudge is a sweet-natured 11-year-old female Pointer mix that requires a daily allergy medication and has mild anxiety issues. And then there’s Bruno, a handsome and friendly 6-year-old Pitbull mix that needs medication for seasonal allergies.

They are all disadvantaged, down-on-their-luck dogs that found themselves homeless, but an Appleton area dog rescue is working diligently to give them better lives and find them new homes.

Unforgettable Underdogs – a volunteer-run, foster-based, no-kill dog rescue – is starting its seventh year of assisting surrendered or abandoned dogs that need help and homes. Many of the dogs taken in by the nonprofit organization have issues, ranging from physical disabilities, health ailments requiring medication, anxiety, behavior problems, and troubles adjusting to other dogs and cats. 

Some of the dogs have been abused, neglected, and abandoned by previous owners. Others have been rescued from high-kill shelters.

Unforgettable Underdogs doesn’t have a facility, but provides the dogs with foster homes until it can find them a permanent home. As of early December, the organization fostered 18 dogs.

“It’s really something to see where these dogs came from and where they go to,” said Erika Berge, a board member of Unforgettable Underdogs and a foster parent. “We recently rescued a family of dogs out of what basically was a trash bin. One of our volunteers gave the dogs baths and had to remove a lot of gunk from them. A lot of the time, those are the kind of things people don’t see. 

“But it’s really neat to see the before and after pictures of them. To see them thrive in a new environment is really rewarding.”

Unforgettable Underdogs strives to help distressed dogs – regardless of age or breed – and relies heavily on donations to help pay for surgeries and medical treatment. The rescue is partnered with various veterinary clinics in the area who provide discounts and donated medical care, but Unforgettable Underdogs still pays a good chunk of the bill and is always grateful for donations.

“A lot of times, people just want the perfect dog, but it doesn’t work that way,” Berge said. “We had one dog where we had to remove a blockage from his stomach. We have another who came in with a severe skin condition and another with kind of an abscess, or bump on his eye. Just last night, we brought in a dog who has bladder sores. We have one who is deaf and two more who have anxiety.”

“Typically, the turn-around rate (in finding them homes) is pretty good, but in the last several months, it’s been a little more difficult getting these dogs adopted. It’s not just medical issues, sometimes it’s more behavioral.”

Unforgettable Underdogs was founded by four women – Gloria Boyce, Lacey Kieffer, Sara Miller, and Katie Nechodom – with a goal of saving dogs in dire need of help. And the group doesn’t just hand dogs over to interested owners. It conducts an in-depth adoption process to find loving, responsible owners and implements a follow-through process to ensure a dog’s welfare.

Berge, a Menasha resident, and her husband, Todd, have fostered three dogs: Blaze, Mallory, and Nova. They made Blaze, a boxer mix, and Mallory, a Treeing Walker Coonhound, a permanent part of their family and recently found Nova a new home.

“I have such a passion for dogs and try and make sure that every dog that comes into our care, gets a better life than where they came from,” Berge said.

Melissa Cone of Appleton, and Stacie Muinde are additional board members who have fostered dogs.

“I’ve found it so rewarding to be that bridge for a dog in need – between being homeless and finding their forever home,” said Cone on the group’s website. “I can’t get enough of it.”

Unforgettable Underdogs needs donations, more volunteers, and additional foster families. To donate, volunteer, foster, or check out the profiles of dogs such as Cranberry, Max, Fudge, and Bruno, go to the group’s website, unforgettableunderdogs.org, or its Facebook page, Facebook.com/Unforgettable Underdogs. Email the organization at info@unforgettableunderdogs.org. 

The organization can also be reached at 920-710-1191. Its mailing address is P.O. Box 732, Little Chute, WI 54140.