Foster-based K9 rescue in Warren provides ‘second chance at life’

WARREN – The Dog House K9 Rescue, a volunteer run 501(c)3 in Warren, works to provide four legged friends with a second chance at life.

Sarah and Mark Holmes, founders of the Dog House, operate the rescue from their residence.

According to the couple, their mission is “to help one dog at a time find their forever home. We will do our very best to teach our rescue dogs how to behave in the real world before we send them off to their new home.”

They continued, “Each applicant will be vetted and a foster period of at least two weeks will be in place before an adoption can be finalized. We do this to ensure that the dog is the right fit for your home.”

Currently, the Holmes have four rescue dogs named Bear, Lemon, Brenda and Bella. Sarah explained that all four come from different backgrounds and have different needs.

For instance, Lemon, a one-and-a-half-year-old Jack Terrier mix, came from a Massachusetts 501(c)3. He is a feral dog, meaning he “never had human contact,” said Mark.

Bear, a 126-pound mastiff mix, came from the town of Warren. Sarah described Bear as a “snuggler.”

Brenda, a six-year-old Red Heeler mix, is a “working dog.” The Holmes’ explained that a working dog is high in energy and enjoys being active.

Last but not least, Bella is a 13-month-old puppy that Mark and Sarah are continuing to work with. They noted that she has made immense improvements since coming to their home.

Currently, Lemon, Bear and Brenda are the only three dogs that are available for adoption. They predicted that Bella will soon join them, after she receives her health certificate.

On top of the four rescue dogs, the Holmes’ have four personal dogs: Shay, Bruiser, Chewie and Gunther. All of them were adopted from Big Hair Animal Rescue in Sturbridge.

Mark explained that The Dog House has a kennel license for up to 10 canines at a time, meaning they can take up to six rescue dogs. However, he said that they prefer less, as they value the one-on-one time to train and work with each dog daily.

He continued, “We board and train [the dogs]” before releasing them to another family.

When it comes to fostering, Sarah said they carry out a specific process. This includes receiving applications, a reference and vet check having a meet and greet a two-week foster period if all goes well.

“We want to make sure the dog fits in the home,” said Mark.

As trainers, Sarah said they hold themtselves to a certain standard to ensure that the dogs leave their care in the best state possible. Mark added on to this point and said if there ever were any problems, they like to be aware. “We care about these dogs,” he said.

To assist in their training, the Holmes’ use their personal dogs. Sarah noted that their pack is “very important” in the rescue dogs training, whether it be teaching them how to walk or even when practicing best listening skills.

Every day the dogs go on walks, either in a group or on their own. Sometimes, Mark said they will bring the dogs on separate trips to places such as Petco or Lowes. “They know their obedience and social situations,” he added.

When the dogs are not out and about, they are kept in indestructible crates. Mark shared that these types of crates are secure enough so that the dogs cannot break out.

In this “business,” Sarah said they have to say no more than yes. She continued by saying that boarding and training is a unique skill that not everyone is qualified for. After adopting from Big Hair Animal Rescue, Sarah said they were able to learn a lot of skills from them. Additionally, the couple shared that they did a lot of their own studying including reading, learning about a dog’s body language and so on.

While the Holmes’ operate their dog rescue all on their own, Sarah said they have been obtaining more volunteers and fosters. She added that they prefer local foster homes, as it’s difficult to travel long distances, if needed, due to working full-time jobs on top of running their rescue. Nonetheless, they noted that they would like more fosters.

When looking to become a 501(c)3, Sarah told Reminder Publishing that the process took time as it is controlled by the state. “We filed [in] January 2022 for the 501(c)3 and as a nonprofit corporation in Massachusetts,” she said. “We received the 501(c)3 at the end of February 2022.”

As a 501(c)3, Sarah shared that they cannot legally ask for money. Therefore, the nonprofit organization relies on donations. “Little things matter such as a bag of dog food,” she said. To donate, visit their website at

When a dog goes to a foster home, Sarah said they bring toys, food and other essentials.

To learn more about the dogs available for adoption, visit

For additional information on The Dog House K9 Rescue visit their website at or their Facebook page,

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