Lake Norman & Mooresville

Finding new homes for gentle giants

Running a rescue center for dogs in 100-degree temperatures brings new meaning to the expression "dog days of summer," especially when many of those dogs weigh more than the digits on the thermometer.

Huntersville residents Don and Lisa Reid opened the Great Dane Rescue of the Carolinas on Mount Holly-Huntersville Road 13 years ago, and during that time, the facility has cared for hundreds of dogs, including both Danes and other mixed breeds in need of shelter. The rescue is a nonprofit organization and no-kill shelter dedicated to placing abandoned Great Danes from the Carolinas in safe and loving homes. The center's website states the Great Dane Rescue of the Carolinas' core belief, "We find Great People for Danes, not Great Danes for people."

Currently, the facility has approximately 15 Great Danes in need of adoption.

The Reids began their journey with the giant dogs while searching for property in the Lake Norman area. They discovered an injured and emaciated Great Dane in a roadside ditch and with the help of a local veterinarian, saved the animal's life. Since then, they have become dedicated to educating the public about the growing problem of neglect, abandonment and surrender of Great Danes.

Right now, the Reids count monetary donations as the rescue's biggest need, because the food bill alone for the animals runs at least $400 a week.

"We're really in need of a corporate sponsorship," said Don Reid. Right now, he said, the various fundraisers throughout the year garner attention but not enough money.

The Reids have seen it all when it comes to people surrendering Danes. The animals often appear anonymously tied to the shelter's front gate, and someone recently released an adult male Dane and several puppies in a neighboring field.

"We also see a lot of financial surrenders," said Lisa Reid, where families can no longer afford to feed or provide veterinary care for the animals.

Often described as "gentle giants," Great Danes are social creatures who, in most circumstances, are very calm, devoted to their family and good with children. A male Dane might stand 30-32 inches tall and weigh close to 200 pounds, with females standing 28-30 inches tall and weighing in the upper 100s.

The Great Dane Rescue of the Carolinas typically holds fundraisers during March through October, but the summer months prove to be a hard time to raise awareness for the rescue, with more local residents heading out of town. The rescue runs open houses 1-4 p.m. the first and third Sundays of each month. Those interested in helping the shelter but who can't afford monetary donations can contribute a variety of services, said Renee Toneske, a volunteer.

"We are in need of dedicated volunteers," she said.

The Great Dane Rescue of the Carolinas, which has two full-time caretakers, holds volunteer orientation 11 a.m. the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Volunteers can help out by grooming and bathing the dogs, providing the dogs with exercise, transporting dogs to and from vet appointments, greeting visitors and answering questions about the adoption process and helping out with fundraising events.

A recent visit to the rescue reinforced just how many dogs are in need of foster care and adoption. The Danes, especially, were happy to greet visitors who attended the open house.

"I tell people to come out here a few different times and spend time with the dogs," said Don Reid. "You won't find a dog here; instead, your dog will find you."