MONTANA AVE — “Can you take six dogs?” Jean McCoy’s friend asked her in October.
Animal Control officers had just busted a family of dog hoarders in Westlake and a few of the canines needed a home. McCoy, a Santa Monica resident who owns To Wag For, a boutique and spa for pets on Montana Avenue, has been taking in homeless dogs for more than two years, so she agreed.
She made space for six and asked for pictures of them so she could put out a call for foster owners on Facebook.
“I can take some and they can take some and we’ll work it out,” she was thinking.
“A week went by and there were no pictures. Then I heard they might need me to take 15 or 20.”
McCoy drove out to the building to take pictures of the dogs. There were at least 106 of them, she said. In the following weeks, McCoy took 68 of them and found homes all over Los Angeles County. They were mixes of all different breeds. They smelled awful at first, she said, but they were very well behaved.
McCoy has a complicated and impressive distribution system, surprising for someone who has been taking in rescued pets for less than three years.
She’d take them back to her shop by the dozen and groom them with the help of friends and employees. A few times, they groomed until 2 a.m.
Then she’d reach out to her Santa Monica foster community, which is apparently pretty large.
“You get all the fun of having a puppy without having the responsibility of having them all the time,” she said. “Plus, it’s good for the dogs to be around a bunch of different owners.”
The foster owners take the dogs at night and bring them back to McCoy’s shop in the morning. She puts them on display during business hours and that’s when they get adopted.
She has a handful of adult dogs and 13 puppies left, many of them born after their mothers were rescued.
Carole Hart helped McCoy distribute mutts in the San Fernando Valley. She found foster homes for six. Many of them have since been adopted.
“The people across the street from us had never had a dog in their life,” Hart said. “I have probably 100 text messages. They go to Europe for two months every year. They said, ‘what are we going to do?’ I said, ‘don’t worry about it. We’ll figure it out!’”
Many of McCoy’s foster connections are her customers. Some celebrities have taken on dogs, she said.
And even health problems don’t stop her. On Saturday, she’s holding a fundraiser for two puppies with heart conditions. They need to raise about $8,000 to pay for surgery to save both.
“I don’t usually have this many dogs,” she said. “I’m not trying to build a rescue empire. I just saw a problem and I tried to solve it.”
For more information, visit towagfor.com or call (310) 656-9663.