Tammy Probst-Smith, President/Co-founder of NorthStar Pet Rescue
What inspired you to make the leap to start your own rescue group?
We had been heavily involved with another fantastic local rescue group for more than 10 years. During that time, we developed a love for large breed livestock guardian dogs like the Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, and Akbash. There is an abundance of these breeds in the Southern US, especially Texas. We began to seek out these dogs for the rescue and bring them to NJ to get adopted. Over time, we developed a large network of like-minded people across Texas and gradually expanded to bring other breeds into the rescue as well. After doing this successfully for many many years, it just made sense to spin off a new rescue of our own to continue our work.
How has your rescue changed since you opened your physical location in Boonton?
We opened our first small adoption center in Boonton across from town hall in early 2019. We very rapidly ran out of space and moved to our new much larger adoption center at 187 Plane Street, behind Heavenly Temptations, in December 2020. We don’t have a kennel facility; the adoption center is for our volunteers to do “meet and greets” and to host adoption events. Due to COVID, we were unable to do any events in early 2021, but we just had our first huge event there in June in coordination with the townwide Boonton Rainbow Pride event. Having a physical space in town has definitely helped bring visibility to our rescue. Prior to having the space, we had to do all of our adoptions outside in a volunteer’s yard or park. Now we don’t have to worry about weather, and transport vans with arriving dogs bring them right to the adoption center.
When someone is looking to adopt, what tips can you give them to help find the right dog?
You should definitely seek out and work with a well-established reputable local rescue. A good rescue will ask you lots of questions. If they’re not asking lots of questions, that should be a red flag. The questions may seem intrusive, but we always work for the best interests of our dogs. We want to make sure both the dog and adoptive family are a perfect fit. Sometimes we have to say “no” to a situation we know won’t work, and that is the hardest part. The dogs we get have sometimes been through unimaginable things and they deserve to go to the right home the first time, not be bounced from place to place any more. When you submit an application to NorthStar, you will be paired with an adoption coordinator, or “sherpa” to help guide you through the process. Your adoption coordinator will help find just the right fit for you and your family.
How can people get involved with Northstar?
We are always in need of foster homes in NJ. Short term could be a “closed end” foster where we only need you for a couple days or a week. Long term could be open-ended, i.e. until the dog finds a home. And donations are critically important! Every little bit helps. Throughout COVID we were not able to host fundraising events and we saw our overall donations plummet which puts us under financial strain. As a senior and medical focused rescue, our average costs to vet and transport a dog exceed our adoption fee. The balance is made up through donations. This year we’re having a super 50/50 again – last year’s winner brought home over $26,000 and we expect the pot to grow larger this year. The drawing is September 26, you don’t need to be present to win, and you can reserve tickets on our website. We’ve also just started accepting cryptocurrency donations. Many folks have done very well investing in cryptocurrency and looking to put those earnings to use helping animals so we’ve developed a super easy way to donate tokens such as bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin. Cryptocurrency donors will get an immediate acknowledgment and receipt so the donation can be written off on your taxes. And finally, we are always looking for a motivated, experienced, and hard working volunteer to come up with some creative fundraising ideas and events, and follow those ideas from start to finish. Information on how to foster, donate, adopt, and volunteer is available at www.northstarpets.org.