Stephen Michael Hamm and I met a bunch of years ago when my kids’ books about animal rescue first launched. Stephen has always been a “yes” guy. When I started an affiliate program he raised his hand and said “yes”, he would like for Sweetwater Valley Dog Rescue (SVDR) to participate.
The opening sentence on SVDR’s website is:
“Save the hounds from the pound is our one and only goal and priority.”
They specialize in rescuing hound dog breeds (especially Catahoula Hound Dogs), but they are not breed exclusive. A couple of years ago, we had a phone conversation and he said something really wise about understanding the traits of any breed you are considering adopting. I asked if I could quote him in my upcoming book, and as yes people do, he said “yes”.
You can find out what he shared in What to Expect When Adopting a Dog. As you will learn here, he continues to be a “yes” guy and it looks like as long as there’s work to do, he will have his hand raised saying “I’ll do it.” I have tons of respect for Stephen and the work he does in Tennessee. Animal rescue in the South continues to be challenging and it takes a huge heart and a lot of hard work to do the job he does. Let’s see why he does what he does:
DRS: How did you get started in animal rescue?
SMH: In 2013 I was diagnosed with possible epilepsy or multiple sclerosis, which unfortunately required me to seek alternate methods of keeping myself busy and since I have always loved dogs this to me represented a prime opportunity to begin my own rescue.
DRS: How does your rescue work help both animals and people?
SMH: Sweetwater Valley Dog Rescue is dedicated to help the dogs within our small corner of East TN while also providing spay/neuter assistance thanks to a yearly spay/neuter grant provided by the state.
DRS: What is your relationship to animal rescue. Why you?
SMH: It is staggering the number of unwanted dogs that end up in shelters across this country and to me either you can sit on the sidelines waiting on someone else to step up or you can just go ahead and step up yourself.
DRS: Clearly, you stepped up! Can you tell us about your favorite pet?
SMH: My favorite pet is my trusted sidekick Diddy Bite-Cha he is a 4-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog and is always by my side.
DRS: I love that name! I think I might need to rename my little dog.
Can you offer 3 professional tips from someone on the front lines in rescue that might be helpful to my readers?
1. Research the breed of dog before committing to anything to ensure you are ready, willing, and able to provide for the dog’s needs.
2. Ensure you never adopt out of emotion. Keep it realistic as to what you are willing to provide for the dog.
3. Make a list of questions to ask the shelter, rescue, individual, breeder, etc. as to details regarding the dog i.e. how did the dog end up with your rescue organization.
DRS: What’s next up for Sweetwater Valley Dog Rescue?
SMH: Always expansion. We now are able to help six county shelters in our area and we are looking to add others as time and resources permit.
DRS: Stephen- that’s incredible. Where can we learn more about you and your business?
SMH: Follow us on Facebook at Sweetwater Valley Dog Rescue or our website
DRS: Is there anything else you would like for people to know about animal rescue or what they can do to make a difference?
SMH: We are committed to helping the dogs in need within our immediate area of East TN. Our hope is one day we won’t have to but until then we are here and will remain. Also remember if everyone would consider volunteering, fostering, donating, sharing information, etc. we could change the mindset of animal treatment in this country literally overnight.