By Stephanie Pego

WestielogoOctober is the American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month so anyone looking to fill a canine-sized hole in their heart needs look no further than the Sunshine State Westie Rescue of Hillsborough County.

Sunshine State Westie Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that works year round to save, shelter, and adopt West Highland White Terriers, otherwise known as Westies. Topping out at about 10 lbs., the American Kennel Club said Westies are, “All Terrier, possessing a large amount of spunk, determination and devotion stuffed into a compact little body.”

Aggie Latyak is head of the Westie Rescue in Florida, and she explained how at this time of year there is a tremendous need for volunteers to help with transporting and vet visits for rescues, in addition to available foster parents.

Laytak joined the Westie Rescue three years ago when it began as just two people looking to help local Westies in need. Since that time, the organization has become part of the Mid-Atlantic Westie Rescue and secured its 501(c)(3) status, which Laytak explained they work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to protect.

“We are on call about 365 days a year at any time of night or day,” she said.

The Sunshine State Westie Rescue is entirely volunteer run and regularly has five to six dogs in foster, ready for a permanent home. All vet bills to prepare the dogs for adoption are absorbed by the Rescue, and adoption fees are voluntary with an encouraged donation of $100-$500 depending on the age of the dog.

One of the things that sets the Sunshine State Westie Rescue apart from larger organizations is Laytak’s commitment to “always match the dog to the family and the family to the dog; it’s not first come first serve no matter how great our need may be.”

For Laytak, the sweetest reward that keeps her going in this line of work is the before and after stories on many of the dogs they encounter. One Westie in particular, Bob Barker, had been hit by a car before they rescued him from a shelter. His injuries necessitated the removal of his tail and he stayed with a foster family during the recuperation.

“The family who fostered him couldn’t let him go. Even through all of the pain he was in, he was just such a ridiculously sweet dog; they couldn’t bear to give him up,” Laytak said.

For more information on the rescue, visit www.sunshinestatewestierescue.org.