When it comes to dog rescues, Marley's Mutts is not only expanding in size, but also expanding in heart.
In addition to its volunteers, the local rescue has increased the size of its staff, with 10 employees on the payroll in Tehachapi alone. This number doesn't include team members located in Bakersfield, and more recently, Los Angeles.
Founder Zach Skow continued to grow the non-profit organization after purchasing a ranch which houses rescued animals from around the world.
According to his wife, Heather Skow, Zach has embarked on multiple rescue trips to far-away lands such as Romania, Brazil and Asia. However, he continues his rescue mission locally in Kern County and surrounding areas.
Zach recently flew to New York to pick up Naaji, a dog that was found on the side of the road paralyzed from the waist down in Saudi Arabia by another American. Naaji is one of several paralyzed dogs housed at the ranch which includes its own paraplegic unit.
"He was a lot skinnier when we first got him, but now he is starting to stand on his back legs, so he has made a ton of progress," said Heather of Naaji.
A separate section of the ranch features the Old Dog Boot Camp where senior dogs are housed before they are found a forever home.
According to "Drool Sergeant" Joel Rockey, who is in charge of the senior camp, the animalstypically are found in shelters and rescued due to their age.
"They are kinda on their last chance at the shelter, so we snag them up, bring them here, and then enlighten everyone of the character that they do have before we get them adopted," said Rockey.
Marley's Mutts does not accept owner surrenders, however, animals with medical conditions that have been discarded are taken into the fold, such as one dog who was found without a tongue.
"He's a challenging case," said Rockey. "The ranch operates as a place to hang out until we can find them a forever home."
Currently, Marley's Mutts needs volunteers to help care for and interact with the dogs. Individuals interested in volunteering are asked to contact the ranch and will then go through a three-hour orientation.
"It can be very emotionally draining, but very emotionally fulfilling as well," said Leticia Singleterry, social media coordinator for Marley's Mutts. "It's a really great feeling when you can find homes for these animals that would have otherwise been put down or overlooked."
Last August, Marley's Mutts received a tip about three dogs that were left abandoned in the middle of the desert in Lancaster. Upon arriving, it was discovered that one of the dogs had died after baking in the summer sun without shade, food or water. The other two dogs were rescued and brought to the ranch.
"How they ended up in the desert, God only knows," said Glen McKinley, assistant ranch manager and father to Heather who now resides at the ranch.
For animals that are suspected of being abused or neglected, McKinley said the first step is to call animal control.
"If they can legally take the dog, then it will go to a shelter, and then we can pull it from the shelter," said McKinley.
Although ranch hand Dylan Decant has only been working at the ranch for six weeks, he said it has been the most rewarding job he has ever had.
"It's a really great job, and I love working here," said Decant.
For more information on Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue or how you can adopt or foster an animal, visit marleysmutts.org where a listing and photo of available dogs can be found.