Saving lives, one dog at a time

WAXHAW – Madi Joselyn has always been an animal lover, especially when it comes to dogs.

Marvin Ridge High School senior Madi Joselyn helped rescue Dutch, a Jack Russell terrier, and Lizzy, a German Shepherd mix (above), in addition to 119 other dogs since April 2011.

Marvin Ridge High School senior Madi Joselyn helped rescue Dutch, a Jack Russell terrier, and Lizzy, a German Shepherd mix (above), in addition to 119 other dogs since April 2011.

Madi’s passion for canines has grown into an ongoing effort to save scores of dogs from euthanization through partnerships with animal shelters and foster families. The Marvin Ridge High School senior recently rescued her 121st dog, and April 2014 will mark the third anniversary of her initiative.

Madi wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a kid. Born in Oklahoma and raised primarily in Canada and Ohio, Madi never saw a high euthanization rate as a problem until moving to North Carolina several years ago. When she learned how many dogs in local shelters were being ushered into the gas chamber on a regular basis, Madi knew she had to do something to help.

“Once I realized this is true and was seeing it for myself, it’s like, ‘Wow,’” she said. “You want to do something to help, and it’s not that hard to get (the dogs) where they need to be.”

Madi started by rescuing four dogs from the Anderson County Animal Shelter in South Carolina when she was 15 years old. She and a friend each
fostered two of the dogs and were able to find good homes for all four.

“Pretty much after that, we realized it was possible, and we could save them,” Madi said.

Since then, Madi has reached out to numerous shelters in North and South Carolina including shelters in York County and Columbia, S.C. – two of the shelters she works with the most. The shelters communicate regularly with Madi, alerting her when there is a need she could help meet. Madi travels to the shelters, often immediately after school, to pick up the dogs and briefly houses them in her home until a more permanent foster home can be found.

Madi and her family foster at least one dog at all times – currently, they’re fostering two – with their favorite breeds being dachshunds and pit bulls. She also works with Rescue Express, a traveling service based out of Georgia that rescues and relocates dogs across several states including Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Madi transports some of the dogs she rescues to Belmont to meet Rescue Express on its way to Richmond, Va.

“I try to bring people along with me,” including members of the Marvin Ridge High School Humane Society Club, Madi said. She currently serves as the club’s president. “It’s a huge eye-opener, and it’s nice for them to meet (Rescue Express leaders) in person.”

Through her rescue efforts, Madi has discovered some of the best pets a person can have are shelter and rescue dogs.

“Twenty-five percent of dogs in shelters are purebred – you can find any dog if you really look for it,” she said. “A lot of them are housebroken, a lot of them are really obviously someone’s pets who were never found, or (the pet of) someone who couldn’t take care of it anymore. Most of them are really healthy.”

Madi has worked at the Rea Road Animal Hospital in south Charlotte for two-and-a-half years, mainly in the kennel area. She’ll graduate this spring and plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington for her undergraduate degree and, potentially, North Carolina State University’s veterinary school. Though she’s not sure what the future holds for her rescue efforts, Madi mentioned possibly keeping up with her efforts as much as she can during her visits home, as well as potentially launching a rescue initiative in the Wilmington area.

Madi hopes her accomplishments will encourage others in the community to become involved in rescuing and fostering, as well.

“Even if it’s just one dog and you foster it for one or two weeks, you’re helping,” she said. “You can’t save them all, but you can save them one at a time.”

Email Madi at for information on how to help her rescue efforts.


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