Sandy Polly didn’t intend to be a Chihuahua rescuer, but she just can’t say ‘no’ to a plain pup that’s about to be euthanized.
Polly is the founder of Bandit’s Buddies Rescue, a local nonprofit that rescues dogs from kill shelters and finds foster and adoptive homes for them. The rescued animals are available for adoption every weekend at PetSmart Clovis, 470 Shaw. Ave. east of Minnewawa Avenue.
Bandit’s Buddies became a nonprofit in May 2009, after Polly, who had been volunteering and fostering for another local rescue group, decided to branch off on her own.
“Most of the rescue community knows me as a Chihuahua rescue, but I don’t really specialize in any breed,” Polly said. “I’m about saving lives.”
Just because they’re a plain little yapper doesn’t mean they don’t have a loving soul behind them.
Bandit’s Buddies Rescue founder Sandy Polly
The Valley is known for being populated with pit bulls and Chihuahuas, Polly said, so those breeds are commonly euthanized in shelters because they’re less adoptable.
“Chihuahuas tend to get overlooked because they’re known to be yappy or because they look plain,” she said. “But just because they’re a plain little yapper doesn’t mean they don’t have a loving soul behind them. I’m not going to fight the other rescues over the cute fluffy dogs and let the Chihuahua die.”
Polly and her small group of volunteers have found homes for hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs over the years, averaging about six adoptions per weekend, Polly said.
The rescue was named for Polly’s “favorite little man,” Bandit, who came to her at two weeks old and is now 14 ½ years old.
“He’s my Border Collie mix and I’ve had him since he was the size of a hamster,” she said. “He’s my best friend in this whole world. He’s highly intelligent. Bandit has a really rare disease and health conditions, so it’s been a challenge to keep him here. But he’s just the sweetest, smartest little dog you’d ever want to meet.”
Polly, who often refers to the rescued dogs as her kids and babies, said Bandit is “the overseer of these kids.” He attends adoption events and watches his buddies find good homes.
The ones with the most severe health issues, however, often stay with Polly forever.
“I have several with heart conditions, dogs with kidney problems. I actually placed an old senior dog the other day who I thought I would end up keeping, but that person wanted a dog that fit her description,” she said.
About 75 percent of Polly’s personal income — she’s an office manager by day and dog rescuer around the clock — goes to the dogs.
“I could live in a fancy house and drive a nice car, but I love what I do,” she said. “Once you travel down that road, you can’t travel back too easy … I’m not going to let them be neglected.”
Bandit’s Buddies are altered, microchipped, vaccinated, dewormed, vetted and groomed before they find homes. Polly has invested $5,000 in some dogs, but charges adoption fees from $75 to $200.
“We’re taking a hit, but we just want to find them homes,” she said.
PetSmart offers adoptive families a coupon book for food, a stay at a PetSmart PetsHotel, dog training session and supplies, Polly said.
Adoptions are held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The best part of Polly’s weekend is watching a rescued dog go home with a loving family.
“This is what keeps you motivated when you’re tired,” she said. “A plain little dog that was going to be euthanized is finding a home where the family is going to adore it and cherish it. How could that be wrong? We hear success stories about the plain little dog that everyone else overlooked and the family is so happy to have it and can’t imagine life without it.”
How to help
Bandit’s Buddies Rescue is always in need of donations and foster parents.
Monetary donations can be made to the nonprofit’s crowdfunding website here.
The rescue also appreciates donations of newspapers, dog food and other dog supplies. Donations can be brought to Sandy Polly from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at PetSmart Clovis, 470 Shaw. Ave.
Follow Bandit’s Buddies on Facebook here.