Wiregrass animal rescuer gives dogs second chance
When Stefanie Berry left Germany and made a home in the Wiregrass seven years ago, she was shocked by the overwhelming number of stray and neglected dogs.
“I love dogs,” Berry says. “The dogs don’t have a voice, and if we don’t speak up for them, who will? They can’t save themselves, sadly.”
After arriving in Alabama, she volunteered at a rescue facility for a few years before founding Wiregrass Animal Group, or WAG, with a few of her animal-loving friends. Berry serves as president of the foster-based dog rescue.
WAG saves dogs by finding temporary and permanent homes to alleviate strain on animal shelters, where dogs are often put down due to age and overcrowding. WAG also partners with some local facilities to help with basic veterinary care expenses like vaccinations and the transfer of dogs to no-kill facilities. WAG’s Retired Mama program assists families spaying pets who have already produced a litter.
“The goal is to save as many dogs as possible through veterinary care and a network of volunteers, but the best outcome we can provide is matching dogs with families who adopt them,” Berry says.
In the Wiregrass, a dog rescue organization’s work can seem endless. There’s always a furry friend that needs a forever home, temporary placement or medical care.
Caring for dogs is more than a hobby for Berry. Between leading WAG, boarding dogs at her home in Enterprise, fostering several dogs and tending to her own three adopted dogs, life revolves around man’s best friend.
“They can come out of the worst conditions and the worst shape, and they just bounce back,” Berry says. “Their loyalty and love is just unconditional.”
Berry’s 24/7 commitment to animal welfare earned her the title of Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass awardee. The program is a partnership between Wiregrass Electric Cooperative and WTVY that honors unsung individuals and organizations making a positive difference in their communities. WEC’s Operation Round Up Foundation gives honorees a $1,000 grant to continue their good work.
Putting Sentiment to Action
“No one wants to see homeless animals, but it takes a lot of heart and hard work to turn sentiment into action, and that’s exactly what Stefanie is doing,” says Brad Kimbro, WEC’s chief operating officer. “On behalf of our members at Wiregrass Electric, we just want to recognize Stefanie for doing the right things to improve the lives of the people and animal friends in her community.”
The grant money will help fund WAG’s website, which will provide a way for people to learn about dogs available for adoption and the many ways to get involved in animal rescue. The best path to reducing the stray animal population is spaying or neutering your animals, Berry says. There’s also a need for foster families, adoptive families, donations and volunteers willing to transport dogs to safer environments.