By Shelby Deering
Dogs have a magical power to heal hearts and inspire empathy all over the world. Today, American dog-lovers can easily find videos all over the internet showcasing dogs being rescued in faraway places, stirring people to donate, send much-needed supplies or even adopt a rescue pup from a distant location. One such organization that has a strong support system in the Geneva Lake area is Potcake Place K9 Rescue, which is based in Turks and Caicos, a group of Caribbean islands popular with American vacationers.
Robin Randolph — whose golden retrievers Amos and Truman were “Lake Dogs” in the Autumn 2021 issue of At The Lake and graced the cover — believes wholeheartedly in this rescue group. She and her partner have been visiting Turks and Caicos for 25 years, and early on, Randolph says she noticed the many stray dogs on the island. Not long after they first began visiting, a Turks and Caicos resident named Jane Parker- Rauw identified the same challenge. She founded the nonprofit rescue organization Potcake Place K9 Rescue in 2004, deriving its name from the local mixed-breed dogs, nicknamed “Potcakes,” from an earlier era when residents would cook their food over a fire on the beach, scraping what was left in the bottom of the pots to feed to the stray dogs. Potcake pups are generally medium-sized with a short coat and have a Lab-like build.
Parker-Rauw has enjoyed great success with her rescue organization.
Lines of people form at the door of the rescue organization every day to play with the puppies, take them on beach walks and help to socialize them. Randolph herself visits the islands two to three times a year and has acted as a courier for several Potcake puppies, bringing them back with her for adoption by families in Illinois, Indiana and California. Thanks to modern technology, Randolph has even video-chatted with a woman in Illinois while she was visiting the rescue organization, helping her to pick out a puppy, which Randolph then couriered home.
With top goals of spaying, neutering and finding homes for their dogs, Parker-Rauw says that Potcake Place adopts out roughly 500 pups a year to “fully vetted, approved homes.” Even though the organization is located over 1,500 miles away from Lake Geneva, its ripples can be felt here. Another committed local supporter of Potcake Place K9 Rescue is Dr. Terry Johnson, a veterinarian at Clinton Animal Clinic.
“Potcake Place is close to my heart because, in short, they’re doing all they can to rescue and find homes for puppies who would otherwise have to fend for themselves,” Dr. Johnson says. “Jane and her staff rescue pups from dumpsters, the bush, highways — basically anywhere. They’re up to speed on government regulations, travel needs, vaccinations and para- site control.”
The rescue organization boasts over 32,000 followers on their Instagram profile (@potcakeplacek9rescue) and a large roster of dedicated volunteers and supporters who live not only on the islands, but around the world in places like Lake Geneva, as Randolph and Johnson demonstrate.
Randolph feels that adopting a Potcake as a rescue is a win-win: of course adopters make a huge difference in the life of each dog, but she feels that welcoming dogs into the household is equally beneficial for humans’ health and well-being, and Potcakes are well- suited to this kind of international adoption, she says. “These are such precious dogs, and they adapt well to new homes.”
Potcake Place K9 Rescue operates on a strictly donation-based model, so Parker-Rauw says the best way to support their efforts is to make a donation directly through their website, potcakeplace.com. Additionally, visitors to Turks and Caicos can arrange to volunteer to take the puppies for walks and to help with their socialization, and can even volunteer to act as a courier for a pup when returning to the United States, as Randolph has done. Randolph says she finds the volunteer work extremely rewarding: “Dogs ask for so little in comparison to all the love and attention they give us.”
Adopting closer to home
For those looking to adopt a rescue pet a little closer to home, the Geneva Lake area has several places where you can meet your new best friend.
- LAKELAND ANIMAL SHELTER
For more than 40 years, Elkhorn’s Lakeland Animal Shelter has served as the area’s primary rescue and adoption center for homeless pets, including dogs, cats, rabbits, pocket pets, birds and even barn animals. lakelandanimalshelter.org
- HOOVER’S HAUSE ALL DOG RESCUE
Based in North Prairie (north of East Troy) and Olive Branch, Mississippi, Hoover’s Hause has an active fostering community in Walworth and Waukesha counties, with several dogs waiting for adoption. hoovershausealldogrescue.org
- ALIVE RESCUE
Chicago’s ALIVE Rescue is currently constructing “The Big Barn” in nearby Salem Lakes, where adoptable dogs will have more freedom to roam and socialize prior to finding their forever families. aliverescue.org