As a “pet writer” and editor of animal-oriented books, it’s a joy to feature a special rescue called Friends of Faye in Conroe, Texas. Originally published in The Woodlands City Lifestyle.
To the Rescue: Loving foster dogs through the hardest times
Originally published in The Woodlands City Lifestyle
Article by Melanie Saxton
Photography by Rick Frank
There is nothing quite like a dog who feels safe in the world after being rescued from a harrowing life. Friends of Faye in Conroe has helped hundreds of dogs off the streets and into homes throughout Montgomery County and beyond. This foster-based and social media-driven nonprofit sprung up during the COVID pandemic to support traditional shelters and rescues during some very trying times.
Hillary Egan, Friends of Faye founder and director, advocates on behalf of lost, abused, and abandoned dogs with a strong team of volunteers. Foster families—the special heroes of this work—offer temporary homes in surrounding cities from The Woodlands to Willis and beyond. Thanks to this fostering network, adoptions and collaborations with other rescues are possible locally and nationwide.
Faye, an emaciated white German shepherd, burst onto the scene in January 2020. A local midwife spotted a dog in extremely rough shape scooting in circles on a county road. With a client in labor, all she could do was post pictures on Facebook and plead for help.
The power of social media worked its magic. Concerned rescuers shared photos throughout the United States. The Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue in Virginia took long-distance responsibility for the dog, later named Faye, while Montgomery County volunteers frantically searched for the injured animal. After calls to the sheriff’s department and animal control, they learned that Montgomery County Animal Services had picked up Faye.
Thanks to an entire team of shelter employees and volunteers, Faye was rushed to the Vergi ER in Houston, pregnant, with a broken back and multiple gunshot wounds. It’s a miracle she survived. The foster mom and adopter, who happened to be Hillary Egan, ushered Faye through miscarriage and months of therapy until she learned to walk again. All Faye wanted to do was love Hillary back.
Timing is Everything
Faye’s rehabilitation coincided with the COVID crisis. “There are parallels between animal and human welfare,” explains Hillary. “When people struggle to feed their families, they also struggle to feed and vet their pets.” She and Catherine Doyle, rescue coordinator at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, began brainstorming ways to help shelters cope.
Fostering, owner retention, and networking became the focus. Friends of Faye, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was launched and named after its inspirational mascot. During lockdown, the organization cleverly harnessed the reach of social media to spotlight the most challenging cases.
Ryker Goes Viral
Former castaway dogs have become viral celebrities and rescue ambassadors thanks to the power of a “share,” especially those with heart-tugging stories. Hillary posted the plight of Ryker, an owner-surrendered, starving husky with severe mange, to social media, including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and more. The husky’s video caught the attention of the We Love Animals page on Facebook, which generated 1.1 million reactions and 24 million views. A simple online search of “Ryker husky” pulls up mentions on The DoDo, Truth Times, Animal Channel, Family Pet, and numerous other platforms as far away as Germany.
Mike and Donna Dugan in Pennsylvania applied for adoption. “We followed Ryker’s recovery story from the first day Hillary posted about him,” says Mike. “We are husky lovers and lost one to cancer. Our husky Dallas was looking for a playmate, and Hillary drove Ryker to Pennsylvania personally. His story has made him a great rescue advocate. Hillary still checks in, and we’re amazed at the fans who follow Ryker Renewed on Facebook.”
Changing Lives One Foster at a Time
Beautiful adoption stories are part of a never-ending effort. The funding pressure is daunting. Friends of Faye covers vet bills for dogs of every age before and during fostering. Spaying, neutering, dental care, surgeries, therapy, and rehabilitation is done through partners such as Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center, Texas Litter Control, Thomas Animal Clinic, and The Rescue Vet Clinic.
In almost every circumstance, vetting costs far exceed adoption fees, and tax-deductible donations make all the difference. Some add Friends of Faye as their charity of choice on Amazon and buy from the rescue’s wish list. Those who can’t foster or adopt help by sharing on social media. Others transport dogs locally or volunteer with My Chi and Me Rescue, a transport link to northern rescue options in New York, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Learn more at FriendsofFaye.com. The website lists available dogs to foster, adopt, and support, with links to social media updates and photos.
Hillary Egan, Friends of Faye founder and director, advocates on behalf of lost, abused, and abandoned dogs with a strong team of volunteers.
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