Enumclaw resident Steve Bannerot and his hound complete last year’s fun run, a benefit for Left Behind K9 Rescue, at Lake Wilderness. File photo by Kevin Hanson

Rescue group aims to save dogs’ lives; Saturday fun run will benefit the cause

All great dogs end with a tail, but this great tale begins with a dog.

A homeless pooch to be precise, a Pomeranian confined to a cage at the Seattle Humane Society. Tommy whiled away his days without a purpose, without a family and without the affection canines crave.

That meager existence came to an end the day Jeff Boyd, fresh out of college, walked into the big-city shelter. Along with Molly, now his wife, Boyd provided Tommy with a “forever home,” sparking an idea that has since altered the lives – or saved the lives – of hundreds of four-legged companions.

It was 2007 when the Boyds added Tommy to their household. That led Boyd to volunteer at the Seattle shelter and, eventually, realize he could do more.

The result of the his commitment to man’s best friend is Left Behind K9 Rescue, a home-grown operation that has expanded by leaps and bounds in recent years. It’s a not-for-profit, all-volunteer effort with a simple and single-minded determination to save animals’ lives.

Turning plans to action took some time but, by 2012, Boyd’s group was up and running. Shelter dogs were given homes, strays were placed in foster care until they found an appropriate match and – in a handful of severe cases – sick pups were nursed back to health before being adopted.

While it takes a village to raise a child, it takes kind-hearted folks in many local communities to change the course of a canine life. The LBK9 operation is headquartered in the Boyd’s Covington home, but the effort spreads throughout the area: Buckley Veterinary Clinic offers primary care for rescued pets; the Petco store in Bonney Lake regularly hosts adoption events for LBK9 dogs; the Blue Pearl clinic in Renton has joined the medical mix, treating dogs in need of emergency care; and Centennial Kennels in Maple Valley offers housing, if necessary, before dogs go into foster care.

Corporations have come to the rescue as well. Reber Ranch in Kent is the prime sponsor of LBK9’s annual “Tails ’n’ Trails” 5K fun run, staged at Lake Wilderness Park. Mutual of Enumclaw sponsors the annual dinner-auction that generates much-needed cash for LBK9.

Above all, it’s volunteers that allow Left Behind K9 Rescue to place about 100 dogs a year in loving homes.

Boyd is well aware of the commitment made by those who serve.

“Everyone has a real job and a real family,” he said, noting that his organization’s growth is directly tied to the willingness of roughly 40 people who either provide foster care or volunteer in other ways.

Dogs enter the LBK9 world from a variety of sources. Some come from local shelters and others are rescued from overcrowded facilities in California. In a few cases, dogs have been diagnosed with canine parvovirus – often a fatal illness – and surrendered at veterinary clinics to be euthanized. In those instances, LBK9 stepped in, took ownership and, with the help of vets, saw that the animals were saved.

In the end, it’s all about placing good dogs with good homes.

“If there’s a dog in need,” Boyd said, “we’ll do what we can to help.”