How A Phone Call Changed The Life Of A Miami Dog Groomer (And Thousands Of Animals) Forever

By Ana Cedeno

We live in a time where altruism can be seen as somewhat subjective. You can’t be nice to strangers, because they could rob you, some would negatively say.

Trusting people, or rather being naive about it can make you seem stupid in the eyes of many, if not an easy target, and no good deed goes unrewarded has turned into no good deed goes unpunished.

But Regina Nicole Vlasek has decided to live her life in a more hopeful manner.

Vlasek is the president and founding partner of the Saving Sage Rescue organization.

A no kill animal shelter located in the northern Miami suburb of Miami Shores, Saving Sage’s story began from a single act of kindness.

The story began with a phone call in 2012.

At the time, Vlazek was working as an animal groomer and while she and her friends often rescued animals who were abandoned at her salon, they were far from a legit non-profit.

But then, the call came.

“A client Judy Sanchez reached out to me about the dog sighting situation” Vlasek said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “A bunch of dogs were picked up by animal rescue and a little dog was left behind.”

Vlasek and Sanchez raced to where the dog had been sighted intending to make sure he was safe and to find a place for him.

“We made a big scene. We stopped traffic to get the dog,” Vlasek recalled.

Regina Nicole Vlasek, the founder of Saving Sage. Photo Credit: Facebook.

Regina Nicole Vlasek, the founder of Saving Sage. Photo Credit: Facebook.

Despite their best efforts they couldn’t plan or prevent what would happen next.

The dog was startled by some nearby children.

Skittish and still not used to people, the dog ran from under the house she was hiding in and into a car.

“The dog had very bad injuries,” Vlasek said. “There were pictures of this dog being picked up on the stretcher. Channel 7 [WSVN] picked up the story and it was on the news.”

It was while they had the dog-who they later named Sage on the stretcher that they noticed she was lactating.

They sent Sanchez’s child to check under the house and they found seven puppies.

In her efforts to help Sage and her puppies Vlasek and Sanchez contacted Karina Goldenberg who was at the time affiliated with another animal rescue organization named A Way For Strays.

Vlasek also contacted Dr. Michael Zender, a veterinarian she knew from her days as a groomer.

Both Goldenberg and Zender donated money and medical supplies respectively to ensure that Sage and her puppies made it through.

It was that tight-knit group that started Saving Sage.

“It grew from there,” Vlasek said as she explained how Saving Sage went on to become much more than just saving Sage and her puppies. “We went from being girls who just kind of liked helping to meeting this girl who was part of the organization and it grew from there.”

Saving Sage took off as a full-fledged animal rescue and in their first year alone rescued 198 animals.

In their second year they went over double that number.

Sage and her puppies also found a good home.

The organization doesn’t limit itself to just dogs.

As Vlasek explained, on any given day dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and snakes all could drop by the office.

They’ve also started a program called The All About Animals Class, in which they teach children the importance of spaying and neutering their pets, as well as the often forgotten lesson that a pet is not a toy.
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“We can’t just condemn people for not knowing any better,” Vlasek said. “We have to teach them and make a difference. People can go on and on to say that this is wrong but does anyone try to understand? It’s having patience and teaching children from an early age.”

Although they are branching out into educating the public, Vlasek says the purpose of Saving Sage remains as always, to save animals that are out in the streets.

“Even with animal control and the humane organization, the number of stray animals is so overwhelming, any one organization would have a hard time,” Vlasek said.

It isn’t a placid life to be sure and not one, Vlasek ever saw herself having when she answered that fateful phone call in 2012.

“I never dreamed that it would turn into something like this,” Vlasek said. “Sometimes I want my old life back when the phone doesn’t ring all the time, but it’s something I can some day look back and be proud of.”

While it isn’t always easy, Vlasek said that it is rewarding.

“We’ve saved dogs that were days away from being put to sleep and we get pictures,” Vlasek said. “[We] develop friendships from the people who adopt them. It will inspire people to get involved and it spreads and I think it feels awesome to be able to express this. Everyone has their own battle, this is the one that I choose.”
Saving Sage is located at 212 NE 98th St in Miami Shores, FL, 33138.

for information on volunteering, fostering, or adopting, visit their webpage at http://www.savingsagerescue.org

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credits: Saving Sage Animal Rescue

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