Rescue Me: Pug Rescue of Sacramento

We at Yellow Dog Blog are huge fans of legitimate, hard-working rescue groups. After all, a Bay Area rescue saved Yellow Dog and Sundown!

But it is heartbreaking to know not all dogs are so lucky. In fact, roughly 9,000 innocent animals are put to sleep every day across the U.S. simply because there aren’t enough people willing or able to adopt. So we’ve launched a new series on YDB highlighting rescue groups in California, the Rescue Me series.

We start with Pug Rescue of Sacramento, or PROS. PROS was founded in the early 1990s when Sacramento breeder Marianne Herzberg-Stanley found many pugs in need of homes. PROS was incorporated as a non-profit in 1996 and since then, they’ve rescued thousands of pugs, taking in more than 100 dogs a year.

Pug dogs jumping up
Two pugs greet a visitor at a PROS adoption event at Pet Food Express in Benicia.

PROS President Jan Grover has been working with the organization for 12 years, including three as president. She says the pug breed is special.

“Pugs are very oriented towards people,” Grover says. “They especially enjoy being around their own breed. At pug events, it’s like meeting a long-lost cousin.”

Dedicated volunteer and Dublin resident Elena Temples got involved with PROS more than ten years ago when she took her first pug puppy to Pug Sunday at Heather Farms Park in Walnut Creek.

“They were just really nice and answered questions about our new pug,” Temples says. “I asked how to get involved. They always need help with answering phones, transporting rescues and applications. My first task was answering call backs on the PROS lines for turn-ins, and I still own this responsibility ten years later!”

pug begging for treat at SPCA Adoptathon
Two adoptable pugs score a treat at the East Bay SPCA’s Adopt-a-thon at Jack London Square.

Turn-ins are either shelter or owner surrenders to the rescue group, and sometimes dogs that are even found abandoned.

“We are so fortunate to have such an awesome relationship with the shelters in the Bay Area and Central Valley,” Temples says. “They will reach out to us and give us time to find a foster home, even extend the hold time when we are extremely full.”

Temples is a part-time volunteer who gives up one to two weekends a month driving around the Bay Area and California picking up turn-ins. She’s even gone as far as Nevada for a double pug adoption drop-off. She says the hardest part of the job is picking up dogs from owners turning them over for medical or financial reasons.

pugtacular event
PROS volunteer Elena Temples poses with a pug at the “Pugtacular” event in Danville, hosted by the Northern California Pug Club.

“I am torn in the pickups where the children are sobbing because I am taking their pet,” Temples says. “I feel like the bad guy. These are hard because they love their dog and want to give them the best care and to do that, they have to let them go.”

But Temples also has her fair share of horror stories. Dogs dumped on the side of the freeway, left outside a shelter, turned over in deplorable medical conditions and turned over without any emotion.

“I’ve had people just hand their dog over like they were donating a bag of clothes,” Temples says. “No feeling, no emotion. They don’t even care.”

She also has seen owners turn over senior dogs in their teens because they have become “too difficult to care for,” something she says they see at least twice a month.

cute pug puppy at adopt-a-thon
What a face! This pug does his best puppy-dog eyes at the Adopt-a-thon in Oakland.

“People have no idea how hard and confusing it is for a dog that age to readjust,” Temples says. “They are scared, confused and losing the only home and family they have ever known.”

Temples’ other responsibilities with PROS include managing the Facebook page, handling applications and adoptions in her territory, doing home checks for adoptions and attending adoption events. She has some advice for people looking for the “perfect dog.”

“Regardless of whether they have three legs, one eye, or don’t run as fast as the other dogs, the perfect dog is the one that loves you regardless of your haircut, how your jeans fit and if you’re having a bad day,” Temples says. “Keep your heart open as well as your eyes.”

The PROS President also reminds those looking for a new furry family member that pet stores are not the way to go.

“Too many stores get dogs from a broker who buys from a puppy mill,” Grover says. “Many of those dogs end up getting sick, as they haven’t had their shots and are kept in close quarters with too many other dogs.”

Recent Rescue Dog Helen

Temples wanted to introduce us to one of PROS’ recent rescues, Helen. Helen was found hiding under a car in a parking lot in a rough Bay Area neighborhood.

The two girls who found her discovered she was missing an eye, which had been sewn shut. But not only was Helen missing an eye, her other eye was almost completely out of its socket, so Helen was completely blind and terrified. She had been dumped on the street and was starving.

rescued pug with eye out of socket
Helen was in rough shape when she was found; her eye was popping out of its socket and needed to be removed.

The two girls were able to coax Helen out from under the car with some food and took her to the shelter, who then called PROS. They had two days to find a foster home for Helen, so they took to Facebook to tell her story. Helen got over 10,000 views on Facebook and the offers to help were pouring in. The next afternoon, Helen had a foster home.

It took a few days to adjust to the love of her new foster parents but Helen has bounced back into a vibrant, happy little girl. She received some much-needed medical care, including the removal of her other eye.


“She went trom a petrified girl under a car, who probably would not have survived on her own, to a sweet girl with her whole life ahead of her,” Temples says. “This is why I am in rescue! Because I get to be a part of making good things happen.”

How You Can Help

If you want to get involved in PROS, they have established an Amazon wishlist where generous donors can purchase items and send them directly to the shelter. Things like flea medicine, potty pads and doggy beds are always in demand.

“So many dogs come to us with nothing, not even a collar or bowl to call their own,” Temples says.

pug pros volunteer
PROS volunteer Danielle crades a pug at an adoption event. The rescue is always in need of volunteers to help at these events and with other tasks.

Medical issues are also becoming more extreme, so the rescue is always in need of monetary donations to cover vet costs.

Volunteers are also crucial to keeping the rescue operations going.

“We always need help dropping dogs off at vet appointments, helping out at various monthly adoption events and some of the bigger rescue events as well,” Temples says. “You don’t have to foster or donate money to get involved!”

Upcoming Events

PROS will be at the Furry Pet Fair May 31 at Baldwin Park in Concord. They will also take part in the East Bay SPCA’s July Adopt-a-thon at Jack London Square in Oakland.

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