A small but mighty breed of animal rescue has started locally, helping homeless animals find happy new homes — and thrive. Thrive Animal Rescue just started in April 2014, and so far this year it has already helped 68 dogs find new families.
“It’s so great to see them go off, and when their new families send in photos,” said founder CeCe Bloum said. “It’s so exciting. Our slogan is ‘Who rescued who?’ because the dogs help the people as much as the people are helping the dogs.”
She tells one story of an elderly woman who had never owned a dog, but after adopting from Thrive, said that the companionship changed her life.
With Thrive, Bloum seeks to fight the misconception that shelters don’t have good dogs.
“My hope is for people to be more aware that if they want a dog, the dogs in the shelters are great dogs,” she said.
Bloum has lived off Old El Camino Real at the show stable Newmarket Farm for the last 22 years. Her father, actor/singer Jimmy Durante, helped start the Del Mar racetrack, so she would come down to Del Mar every summer during her youth, and her love of animals grew.
She had a successful career as a horse trainer for a long time, riding and showing competitively, but retired from the business five years ago. Her community of fellow “horse people” got together to help Bloum start Thrive.
“There are so many dogs in the shelter that need homes,” Bloum said. “We felt we had to do something to help these sweet dogs.”
Besides Bloum, Thrive is made up of Georgia Spogli, a Rancho Santa Fe resident; Kate Anderson, a third-grade teacher at Del Mar Heights School; Susie Saladino, Rancho Santa Fe horse trainer Marc Grock and Tricia Knapp.
Friends Niki Davidson and Wendy Carter visit shelters with high kill rates in her home of Los Angeles, and Jennifer Guzzardi helps visit shelters in the desert.
“It takes a village,” Bloum remarked.
Anderson has known Bloum for years from her own horse showing days. Anderson has had rescue dogs her whole life and was happy to join Thrive when Bloum started it.
“It’s hard to choose just one success story, because I feel like all the dogs who find new homes are a success story,” Anderson said. “However, one dog, Lila, a Jack Russell, does come to mind because she had a little bit of a rocky road to her forever home.
“I fostered her for a little while, and she really stole my heart. She was a special little dog just looking for the right person to give her very big heart to, and with a little patience on everyone’s part, she found it!”
Anderson said she also cherishes the “freedom rides” with Thrive, the rides home from the shelter with dogs they have saved.
Thrive’s very first rescue was Macy, the basset hound.
Macy’s rescue came after a heartbreaking experience where Bloum went to a local shelter because she had found a Labrador she wanted to adopt. But by the time she arrived, she found that the dog had been euthanized due to medical issues.
Bloum saw Macy in the kennel next door, “scared to death,” just skin and bones and shivering.
“She flourished into the most beautiful dog,” Bloum said. “She was the one that started it all.”
The Thrive members visit overcrowded shelters and try to find good family dogs. They also place a special emphasis on rescuing senior dogs, getting older dogs out of the shelter and into what will become their forever foster homes.
Thrive will pay all the medical expenses for these foster homes.
“We have five seniors that we support now,” Bloum said. “It’s really nice because they get a new start. It’s hard for people to choose to adopt a 10- or 11-year-old dog — those are the dogs that usually get euthanized. We support them and make sure they’re going to great homes.”
In its short existence, Thrive has been very active in the community.
On Dec. 7, the group hosted its first Holiday Farmer’s Market, partnering with Intimate Living Interiors in Solana Beach and Growing Up Community Garden. They brought in 25 local vendors to a decked out Newmarket Farm (complete with Santa Claus visiting with four-legged and two-legged friends). It was a great success — besides raising awareness for Thrive and local businesses, they found homes for four dogs.
During finals week at Cathedral Catholic High School, the group launched its “Revive and Thrive” program, bringing four dogs to campus to help alleviate the stress of test-weary students. They got big help for the event from one of their teen volunteers, Paige Stein, a junior in high school.
“The kids came out on break and lunch, and they were so excited. They said it was so helpful, they loved it,” Bloum said. “We’d love to do that program more … I think animals are so healing for people, so we can help in that way too.”
Thrive has three dogs available for adoption right now.
“We’re not trying to be a huge rescue, so we don’t have a lot of dogs. Typically, we have people take them to horse shows, and we’d had a tremendous amount of success finding homes through the horse community,” Bloum said.
Shelters have started to reach out to Thrive, too — that’s how they got Lance, a spirited 7-year-old Australian shepherd blend who was brought to the San Diego Humane Society’s shelter on Gaines Street with a broken pelvis after being hit by a car. He was welcomed into a new family last week just in time for the holidays.
Thrive is also taking care of Emma, a sweet pup who needed to have her leg amputated last week. Thanks to donations to Thrive, they were able to get her surgery done, and after her recuperation, she will be ready for a new home.
Mostly what Thrive is looking for is foster families, to allow them to save more dogs.
“It’s very rewarding,” Bloum said. “A foster family who can take a dog in until they find a forever home is the best thing for the dogs. We pay all the expenses, so all you need to give is a warm bed and lots of love.”
For more on Thrive, visit facebook.com/ThriveAnimalRescue.