We've been following this organization for years. We've been wanting to take all of these fuzzy beauties home. We even know the founder of this AWESOME concept.. so it made sense to talk to Laura Bye of Save our Scruff and share our love of rescue to the world!
Disclaimer: you might be on the hunt for next furry friend after this post.
1. First off, tell us about Save Our Scruff. What makes you different from other rescues?
Well, there are many rescues, I'd say. I think, first off, Save Our Scruff (SOS) isn't just a dog rescue. We have so many aspects that keep us involved and dialled into the community at all times, so it's hard to find something that SOS is not involved in when it comes to dogs. The rescue part is only an addition to the foster program, the events we host, the seminars we put on for our alumni and volunteers, the support system we have going on internally.. it's all just a super cool working wheel that we have an amazing group of people a part of.
Staying professional is always important, but we do keep as open-minded and hearted as we can, and we try to focus more on the positives than the negatives. Our volunteers are supporters really seem to mirror that as well (BOO YAH!) which only continues to lift us up and keep us going.
We've kept things organic and natural, allowing for an ease. Our adoption protocol and the work we put into every scruff is well, commendable (am I allowed to say that? *laughs*)
We realize that there ARE tragedies, there is neglect and abuse and suffering, but we focus on WHAT'S NEXT, rather than staying behind and worrying about what has happened. There are always rescues covering the heartbreaker stories, while we keep people engaged by getting personal and allowing those to laugh and get comfy in an industry that is definitely not always fun and games.
2. You've got quite a large following on social media! How did you build up your brand?
I get asked this quite often and I always wish I had a better answer. But maybe that in itself is really what allowed for such a 'brand' to exist and grow - it wasn't forced or trying. I just put myself out there - me and the dogs. I kept it organic, stayed true to my voice and things caught on quickly. I didn't ever think "oh maybe I shouldn't write this," or "is this too much." because it wasn't really for anyone else, it was for me. I think that because infectious: people wanted to read our posts and people wanted to get involved. I really think that allowed for us to start a community of like-minded humans wanting to make a difference, with the same vibe as my sister and I.
If I asked my sister about branding, she'd probably say hashtags and funny posts (both of which she's good at). She kept the crowd around with mixing things up and keeping rescue as 'forever trendy.' Now we can focus on education and support with the people already committed to what we were putting out there.
Intent is everything - and it shines through my sister, our dedicated volunteers, and even our supporters. What we have going is authentic and the way we regime, rescue and support rings true for a lot of people which allows us to continue to grow.
3. Managing a rescue must involve some crazy logistics! What were some of the biggest challenges for you starting out?
MONAYYY! Money was the BIGGEST issue, I think. But I didn't think of it as one and it ended up larger than I expected. My sanity, too - and some people probably don't think I have that back yet, but I am working on it. It was really hard to balance a job, social life and have a responsible (questioning the use of the word 'responsible!') dog habit. To be honest, I didn't always remain on top, but I never really considered 'hey, this might not work,' which in the end worked to my benefit.
4. It takes a lot of volunteers and staff to make SOS work. Can you share tips with your fellow entrepreneurs on how to find and hire the right people?
Does it ever. We have built something truly astounding and I wish I had a step-by-step manual to share, but I don't. I think creating this so-called 'brand' of ours really called out to the right people. It would be impossible to do it alone - something I tried for a year on my own but it was absolutely consuming. We would not be standing here if we did not have the right people in place and to be fair, we wouldn't be where we are now without making the mistakes we have.
I'm always willing to admit when something has gone wrong and in turn, SOS benefits changing up protocols or processes to make sure we're encompassing everything we have learned.
Staying open and honest is ALWAYS the way to go and we have been able to pick out the people who we know will speak up when they need to and want to be heard for the same reason as is. It is sometimes really difficult working with a full staff of volunteers because, hey, we all have real lives, jobs and responsibilities and 18 billion other things going on. But, we have found the most amazing people through the community we've put together and it only continues to grow.
We rare really focusing this year on making sure our volunteers are happy, comfortable and appreciated, because this can be so easy to put aside when we're so busy looking out for our four legged. Opening up a safe space for conversation goes an extremely long way.
5. What's something you know now that you wish you knew before starting your organization?
Other than someone breaking the news to me early on that I'd be 'the dog lady' forever, probably nothing. I think what we've done here was authentic as hell and don't feel the need to change much. We've completely built something from the bottom up and took something out of every lesson we learned. If anything, I would have personally liked to know more about working with dogs on a behavioural level, because it was something I went into completely blind at the start. Now I'm having to learn, unlearn and then teach and although this has benefits, too, starting out as a legitimate 'dog whisperer' would have been an asset!
6. How do you and your team #workit everyday?
How do we not?! We #workit when we're sleeping.. holy crap we never stop! We try to create a space where everyone is working when they're able to be open-minded, kind and understanding. Willing to look at things from more than one perspective.. and that is really DAMN hard sometimes, especially in such an emotional industry. But it's so important to feel good about what you're doing and be willing to make mistakes, learn and ask questions. This is what we're doing everyday, non-stop.