Ashley Owen Hill is a compassionate and inspiring animal advocate living in Mississippi—a part of the country not traditionally known for helping animals. Fortunately for the dogs in her care, this doesn’t affect the dedicated darling who is helping not only homeless dogs in her own neck of the woods, but thousands of dogs throughout the entire country. As the Founder and President of Lucky Dog Rescue and the Mississippi representative for Dogs Deserve Better, Ashley spends every second of her time helping cast-off dogs attain a new leash on life. All the while she keeps up with her inspiring blog, the Lucky Dog Rescue Blog, that has attracted a massive following online. Not content with helping only the animals in her care, she set out to create a community that could help homeless animals everywhere. In co-founding Pet Pardons, Ashley has helped to create a unique application on Facebook that is helping thousands of animals every single day across the United States.
Through her work with Lucky Dog Rescue, along with her blog, Ashley gives pups of all shapes and sizes (who otherwise would have zero chance of any future) the ability to live a happy and healthy life. Ashley says “Saving the forgotten souls—the dogs on death row, the Pit Bulls, the abused, and the special needs” is her main focus. Ashley is working hard to make a difference in what she truly believes she was put on earth to do—rescue animals. It takes a compassionate soul to take in the forgotten dogs that have never been loved, never felt a kind touch, and many that have never even heard a gentle word. Ashley saves these forgotten souls who otherwise would have never known that humans could be considerate and capable of love—and shows them what love is.
To truly understand Ashley’s spirit, just take a look at this excerpt from her blog about her beloved Rudy, a rescue close to her heart, who passed away. “It was the worst day of my life. But on that day, I stood over Rudy’s lifeless body, and I didn’t see a dog. I saw my son. I saw my child, my heart, my life. I saw a once-forgotten soul, who will be remembered forever. I saw the reason for everything I am, and everything I do. I saw a boy who didn’t die in the pound, but rather lived in my heart.”
She’s saving dogs like Noah, a two-year-old Pit Bull mix who was used as a “bait” dog. A bait dog is a dog (or other small animal) that is restricted from being able to move or fight back while another dog is taught to attack it while being trained how to fight and kill. Most of the dogs turned into bait dogs are either too submissive to fight themselves or are stolen from a loving home. It is a vicious, cowardly, and unforgivable human-forced act that is put upon many animals throughout our country via underground and illegal dog fighting rings. Horrifically the typical motivation behind these acts is simply a person wanting to win “bragging rights” and power by their dog being tougher than the rest. Before Ashley saved Noah from losing his life in a high-kill shelter, Noah faced the horrific life of a bait dog where his mouth was likely taped shut so he could not fight back while fighting dogs attacked him over and over again. Then Noah was dumped on the streets to die by those cowardly people who had no further use for him. He had to have surgery on his nasal cavity because the fighting wounds literally crushed his nose. That was his life before his Angel Ashley.
Then there is Lucy, a beautiful American Bulldog mix who spent over ten years of her life outside on a chain. When a terrible storm ripped through her neighborhood she was unable to run for shelter as her family left her chained to the doghouse during a natural disaster. The tornado threw her about, all the while being choked by her chain and collar. The home of her so-called “guardians” was destroyed and gone and so were they, leaving her without food and anything to drink for a very long time. After days of neglect she was taken to the pound where her family never showed up for her. Ashley did.
All of these dogs and so many more—all with stories that will bring tears to your eyes—are lucky to be alive because of Ashley Owen Hill. She is dedicating her entire life, every single day, to helping as many dogs as possible that have been given an unfair position in life. Ashley does not turn away from animal cruelty and she hopes others will not either. She hopes anyone who comes into contact with cruelty will call on a rescue group or local animal welfare agency to help. “DO NOT TURN YOUR HEAD!” Ashley pleads. Her ultimate goal is to end euthanasia and animal cruelty in our country but that cannot happen until everyone understands the value of animals in our lives and the importance of spaying and neutering your pets.
Ashley is a shining example of what one person can do to make a difference in her own community. Of course, many people cannot dedicate as much time and resources to fighting animal cruelty and overpopulation as Ashley does, but each person can easily play a part in breaking the cycle. One of the most important aspects of creating change in our world is education. Educating people on fostering animals is another very significant part of what Ashley does. Fostering an animal is simply providing temporary shelter, love, food, and care until they find their forever home. Helping an animal heal, then falling in love with them and having to let go is hard, but knowing that animal has finally made it to his perfect forever home is incredibly rewarding! Fostering a homeless pet is critically important as you not only save the life of that one animal, but you also create additional space in the shelter that they came from. Through foster programs a plethora of animals can avoid euthanasia. As much as they would like to take every dog, a rescue group cannot take in animals until they have an available foster home ready. Ashley says that while her heart does hurt when a dog departs for its new family, knowing that she gave an unloved animal who had a minimal chance of survival love, happiness, and a future is much more important than the sadness she feels. Every dog takes a piece of her heart with them but then a portion of it is replaced when a new foster arrives. Being able to help the next animal in desperate need makes the heartache hurt just a little less.
Pet Pardons, co-founded by Ashley in 2010 with Chris Hoar, gives animals a voice from all over the United States who otherwise would not be heard. Users of the application—more than 180,000 in its first year!—can post a last minute “Hail Mary” to save an animal from an untimely death. This community, accessed through Facebook, allows all of their members to share pictures and stories of animals currently in kill shelters that are “on death row,” as well as rescue organizations to post their available pups for adoption. It also gives various groups and shelters an outlet to reach so many others who may be able to help. With the help of Chris, Ashley can edify a large audience on the massively large euthanasia epidemic going on in our country that can be solved by responsible pet owners who spay and neuter their pets. In less than a year, Pet Pardons has saved more than 5,000 animals. All of this grew from one idea of two people who were dedicated to making their vision a reality.
While there are millions of animals that never find their forever homes each year in the United States, we can all do our part to show kindness and help the ones that we do come in contact with. The dogs that enter Ashley’s life are incredibly lucky, but Ashley insists that she is the lucky one. Our hope is that you will be inspired by Ashley to make a difference, big or small, in your own community. Remember that one person can and should make a difference, even when the task in front of you appears daunting.
Be Passionate. Be Proactive. Spay + Neuter.
The Pet Pardons community can be found online at: www.facebook.com/petpardons