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'You're getting a best friend and you're saving a life.'

Liz Waters with her daughter, Nora, and the two pitbull dogs she is fostering, Layla and Honey. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
December 14, 2011 - Ortonville- Still looking for a special family gift this holiday season? If everyone in the household is in agreement, you could save lives by rescuing a dog or cat, puppy or kitten that needs a home, while receiving much love in return.

According to, about 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized at U.S. shelters every year.

While it is a major decision and not one to be made spur of the moment due to the excitement of the season, it can be the right decision for a family who has given it thought and careful consideration.

"If a mom and dad are in a situation where the kids have been asking for a dog, for example, and it's a family decision, that's fine," said village resident and self-professed dog rescuer Liz Waters. "It's when someone gets an animal as a surprise gift that it's not a good idea."

Waters adopted her first rescue dog 10 years ago, when she was 19. Since then, she has been involved in rescuing animals in various capacities. She has adopted dogs, she has temporarily fostered dogs, and she has transported other dogs from various shelters where they were scheduled for euthanasia to no-kill shelters or foster homes.

"I love it," she says simply. "I love animals and there is a major need for fosters and volunteers. It's just something that needs to be done. Animals are being put down not because they are bad, or sick, or a specific breed, but just because they don't have a good home."

On Tuesday, Waters drove to Livonia to pick up an approximately 2-year-old American Bulldog mix who was pushed out of a moving car in Detroit. A witness to the incident called various shelters to take in the dog, knowing if animal control was called, the pregnant dog with infection in both eyes, would likely be put down.

Waters was prepared to bring the dog to her home before Canine Companions Rescue in Clarkston offered to give the dog a foster home in which she could have her puppies, which are due soon, and stay until homes are found for all. The mother dog is receiving vet care to treat the eye infections.

On Thursday, Waters was planning to go to a shelter in Port Huron to pick up a 6-month-old Dalmatian/rat terrier mix, turned in when her owners learned she was deaf; a 3-year-old purebred black labrador retriever, given up because her owner said her nails get too long; and a 3-year-old tan shepherd/lab mix.

"He is so sweet," she said of the shepherd/lab. "I've seen him three times now and I can't bear to leave him there once again, I have to bring him home."

It might seem there would be "no room at the inn" at the Waters' home. Liz is married to Ray and they have three daughters, Nora, 4, Ella, 2, and Lily, 8 months, own three rescued dogs (mastiff, St. Bernard, and Newfoundland/lab mix) and foster two 1-year-old pitbulls and three 1-year-old cats; however, she is hoping to place the new rescues quickly. Waters works closely with various pet rescues, including K-9 Stray Rescue League, which keeps 50 adoptable dogs and puppies at their kennels in Oxford, and also has several volunteers who foster animals at their homes.

Waters does a home check, and anyone interested in a dog she has available for adoption fills out an application. She prefers fenced-in yards for bully breeds and is hoping to recoup the $75 she has spent on each of the pitbulls she currently has available for adoption. At K-9 Stray Rescue League, each dog, which is fully vetted, spayed or neutered, temperament tested, and is on flea and heartworm preventative, has a $200 adoption fee. Waters notes that if you are looking for a specific breed, age, gender, etc., your new furry friend can be discovered at

"If you feel it is the right thing for your family, adoption is the best way to go," she said. "You're getting a best friend and you're saving a life."

For more information, call Liz Waters at 248-941-4152. For more dogs available for adoption, call Canine Companions Rescue at 248-834-9419 or visit, call K-9 Stray Rescue League at 248-628-0435 or visit

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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