Downeast Dog News

Rescue of the Month: Rescue Charlie’s Friends Dog Rescue

Caring for Abandoned, Neglected, and Abused Dogs
By Susan Spisak | Sep 01, 2019

Janine Hague was volunteering for a Maine nonprofit when she fostered a frightened black Lab mix pup and his sister - both were rescued from a high kill southern shelter in 2011. The sister was adopted but the sweet puppy who was terrified of everything - fireworks, storms, and loud noises - soon knew he was in his forever home with Janine, her husband Lee, and their Shepherd mix. They called him Charlie and in early 2018 when she initiated this foster-based nonprofit, she named the rescue in his honor with the mission of saving his friends that were left behind.

She and her volunteers have been busy - in 2018 they rescued 190 dogs, while they’ve taken in 130 dogs thus far in 2019 - most from southern high kill shelters. Their dogs are often homeless due to fires, floods, hurricanes, or other disasters, while others are victims of neglect, abuse, or abandonment. These shelters do their best to accommodate dogs, but they have limited space.

Rescue Charlie’s Friends aka RCF has a network of southern partners in Alabama - she has a group of “fantastic ladies” there, as well as Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. In many cases RCF has only 24 hours to commit to taking at-risk dogs. Then their southern volunteers quickly pick up the canines, have them vetted, and arrange for local foster care.

RCF utilizes several methods of transport. RCF’s Alabama partner has their own van and drives the rescues to “Vacationland” - the state nickname takes on a unique meaning for these dogs. Carolina dogs get their freedom rides via the “big guys,” aka professional transporters. Janine also calls on other Maine rescue contacts who are transporting north and arranges for a dog or two to hitch a ride. Once in state, they’re quarantined according to Maine laws, cared for by fosters, are spayed/neutered, microchipped, and provided with any necessary vaccinations and medical attention.

Recently they received 15 dogs from Alabama and 14 were spoken for before their transport. “I know it’s weird,” she said of adopting a dog by website pictures/posts only. In part, it’s because she doesn’t take in aggressive or difficult dogs, and she has reliable info on each dog’s personality that she shares with applicants. So they have a good idea if the pet will be a match for their lifestyle and home. Occasionally, an adopter may feel it’s not a good fit after meeting the canine, but that’s fine with Janine – she wants what’s best for all. “I’ve got so many apps for all dogs; I can just go to number 2 [approved adopter].

Janine admitted RCF is a full-time job - even though she also owns her own online dog merchandise business - It’s ok that it’s time-consuming ‘cause she’s saving dogs.

RCF needs foster, volunteers, fundraising ideas, dog supplies, and food, and welcomes monetary donations. Visit