Sunday, 19 Sep 2021

Inspiring couple rescue 600 old and sick dogs – and spend £500k on vet bills

An inspiring couple has rescued more than 600 senior and special needs dogs as part of their mission to give elderly and sick animals the best life possible.

Chris and Mariesa Hughes have dedicated their lives to helping their furry friends by taking in dogs that are abandoned and left without a chance.

Incredibly, they even go so far as helping fund their medical bills – even if they are rehomed.

Chris and Mariesa are the cofounders of the Mr Mo Project, a non-profit that helps dogs find loving homes and pay for their lifetime medical costs.

Chris, 34, was originally born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, but moved to the US when he was only three years old.

Chris, 34, was originally born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, but moved to the US when he was only three years old.

When they met, Chris already had six dogs and Mariesa had two, bringing the family to a big number of eight straight away, but they didn’t stop there.

Mariesa, 40, told TeamDogs : “I’ve always wanted to rescue dogs since I was a child. I had my first rescue dog off the streets when I was nine. Chris has been the same way.

“Now we take in specialist dogs with the hope to rehome them.”

Despite the pair both working full time jobs, they know that 'sick and old' dogs don't stand a chance, and so they are the heroes to do it instead.

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The Mr. Mo project was inspired by Chris’ dog Moses who unfortunately passed away.

He said: “Moses was an old Pittie that was surrendered to the shelter for being too old. We ended up having him for 22 months before passing away from a spinal cord tumour.

“During the last few months with him we realised how expensive it was to care for a senior and sick dog and decided after he passed away to take on that challenge of finding homes for senior dogs by covering all of the veterinary care and opening up great homes that have all the love but not the additional income.”

A lot of shelters reach out to Chris and Mariesa because they take a very specific dog. The couple adopt sick and medically challenged dogs and dogs that other people don’t want to take because of medical costs.

The couple’s project involves a lot of fundraising in order to take care of the dogs. Last year they spent $700,000 (£508,536) on vet care.

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Chris said: “Shelters call us and we take the dogs in and give them all of the financial care, and finally find them the right foster home where they will live for the rest of their lives. But it is us that looks after that medical care for the rest of their lives.”

In the couple’s home they have everything set for the dogs to live comfortably. They have a large fenced back garden for the dogs to run around freely, while also having their own kennels with their names on.

They have a hydrotherapy treadmill and a laser therapy unit to work on joints and wounds.

Chris said: “All of our dogs have special needs and it’s a lot cheaper having it all in our house.

“Feeding time is crazy, it takes about 30 minutes. We have dogs that are hand-fed because they don’t have teeth, or they don’t have bottom jaws. Some dogs can get a little food aggressive, and we have dogs with all different diets.

“We also have some insanely old dogs here too. We have a 22-year-old Chihuahua and a 20-year-old Pug.”

The 19 dogs are all different ages, breeds and suffer with different disabilities, which Mariesa admits makes their care especially challenging.

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She said: “It’s bittersweet because it’s not always such a dream, it can be very chaotic but it’s great to see all of the work that you’ve done and seeing all of these wonderful dogs loved, that are all deserving of a second chance.

“But the lows are really low when there are dogs you can’t save, it really affects you. It’s also very messy all of the time.

“I would like to say ‘no we won’t get any more dogs’, but I also didn’t think that we would get two new ones quite recently.

“Seeing their transformations makes all of the stress and heartache so worth it. It’s really hard but this is truly our life’s passion.”

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