LURAY – The black puppy walked around the living room, pointing his nose at his new owners and the keeper he would soon be saying goodbye to.
The life of Hamlin, his siblings and his mother has changed from dire outdoor living conditions on farmland in North Carolina to the warm care of Tabatha Casalaspro, 33, of Luray.
Casalaspro has been training dogs for 16 years. She spent five years as a trainer at Petco, but found there was room for improvement in the way things were done.
“When I was at Petco, I really noticed a huge need for training and socialization in rescues,” said Casalaspro.
She started what became 180 Degree Rescue while living in Fredericksburg. Casalaspro and his son moved to Luray about a year and a half ago due to the housing market.
However, she is moving again because her house has two floors and she has back problems. These same back problems led her to have her first service dog years ago.
Casalaspro is a single mother to her son, Gabriel, 7, who, like Hamlin, toured the house on Tuesday.
Other volunteers are part of 180 Degree Rescue and do their part as host families, but Casalaspro’s house is the center.
She estimates that between 500 and 700 dogs have been in her care since she created the group in 2015. The group became a nonprofit in 2019, according to Casalaspro.
Many dogs are “shelters” – dogs that should be slaughtered by shelters because they have not been adopted.
Casalaspro stated that 180 Degree Rescue fills a role in the dog assistance system by doing this and handling surrenders. This reduces the burden on other groups trying to care for the dogs and find them new homes.
The dogs that Casalaspro welcomes are trained to be social, peaceful creatures that would excel as assistance or therapy dogs. And many of the dogs adopted by 180 Degree Rescue end up in those roles, according to Casalaspro.
She said she wouldn’t adopt dogs for just anyone. Interested parties must commit to taking good care of the animals in a variety of ways, set out in a contract that Alex White, 26, of Arlington, and her boyfriend Ryan Mahoney, 27, agreed to in order to adopt Hamlin. Tuesday.
Mahoney said that when he and White were looking for a dog, they knew they wanted to find someone who would take care of the dogs humanely.
As they completed the papers, Hamlin licked Casalaspro’s face – even though he had spent most of his time with a foster family, his love for her and her new owners was clear.
With the papers completed and Hamlin happy on a leash, White led him to the door of Casalaspro’s house.
“That’s the purpose of the 180 Degree Rescue name,” she said from her porch as Hamlin got into the car with her new family. “We take them, turn them over and give them new life.”