K9 Spirit Organization is a dog rescue dedicated to helping dogs get out of high kill shelters and finding them forever homes. We are located in Orange County, California and focus on rescuing small dogs and herding breeds. Although we love dogs of all breeds, we have chosen to specifically rescue these types of dogs because that is what most of our fosters are able to take care of.
How It All Started: The Story of Spirit – The Shelter Survivor
In June of 2010, a three month old puppy was rescued from South Los Angeles County Shelter on the day he was set to be euthanized. He had come in as a stray with a broken elbow, therefore, was not available for adoption to the public. His picture was posted on Facebook by Angels For Animals Network with the plea that a rescue would pull him if they could find someone who could take him to Dr. Jones Animal Rights Veterinary Hospital in Santa Monica. Dr. Jones offered to fix his elbow, free of charge, in order to help this pup in need. Through shares and networking of this puppy’s picture, Stacy McIlveen stumbled upon it and volunteered to pick up the puppy and take him to his destination.
The next morning, Stacy and her daughter Kirby were up early to drive from Orange County to this high kill shelter on the day of the NBA Laker’s parade. They arrived at the shelter to pick the puppy, listed as a Labrador Retriever mix, from the pound. The shelter employee brought out a nervous 10 lb. dog with short, white fur. He didn’t seem to know much about dogs, considering held the dog underneath its armpits, with its belly facing towards Kirby. This puppy didn’t seem to know much about people either, since he wasn’t aware that they don’t like to be peed on. (Luckily, Stacy had a jacket that Kirby could change into.) They drove the scared pup to the vet’s office, where they were assured he would be given quality care. Puppy might have actually gotten a little too much quality care since he came back a pretty spoiled. The vet’s wife, Suzanne, named him Spirit White Buffalo and gave him all kinds of attention. When the McIlveen duo returned, Suzanne asked Stacy and Kirby to foster him, even though he was supposed to go to a rescue with another foster. They got sucked into bringing him home, as Suzanne would have it no other way.
As always, the first dog that one fosters is one of the hardest to let go. But there were countless signs that Spirit was meant to stay in the McIlveen family. The most eerie one was what Kirby saw in front of Dr. Jones’s Hospital on the day they went to pick him up. Kirby opened the passenger door which almost touched the tall curb outside of the vet’s office. As it slid over the sidewalk, she noticed the letters “K” and “i” etched in the cement. After looking closer, the letters that followed were”r” “b” and “y”. “Kirby” was spelled not more than 15 feet from the veterinary hospital’s front door. It was pretty difficult to say no with that kind of sign glaring you in the face.
As Spirit got to be about six months old, he stopped growing at 20 lbs. and sprouted his crazy, wiry coat which he sports today. This was not a Labrador mix, but some kind of Terrier. The rest of Stacy and Kirby’s pack of dogs consisted of two Border Collies (Sketch and Blitz) and two McNabs (Flash and Torch). They are all medium sized dogs and compete with Kirby in disc dog competitions across the USA. Torch happens to be only two months older than Spirit, so inevitably, they become buddies.
No one ever planned for Spirit’s passion for chasing and catching flying discs. In fact, Kirby never even tried it because she didn’t know if his leg could handle it. That is, until one day, after watching his puppy pal Torch playing disc in the back yard, Spirit decided he wanted to get in on the fun. As Kirby sat down in her room after playing with Torch, Spirit grabbed one of Torch’s discs off the kitchen table and ran in, placing it on Kirby’s lap. By doing this, he made a statement that he didn’t want to live a sedentary life just because of his unfortunate start to life. She took him outside and rolled it on the ground a few feet away. Spirit scurried to it, grabbing it and started to chomp on it, happily. That’s when Kirby and Spirit started running and going on bike rides together to build up strength in his leg so he could do what he so loved. Kirby continues to allow him to play disc as long as he is happy and healthy. Spirit is now a two-time Micro Dog Disc Dog World Finalist and an advocate for shelter dogs. Kirby and Spirit are currently in the process of training to be one of the best disc dog teams, and with his fiery terrier attitude…he just might be. If you want to see Spirit in action, check out Kirby’s website for the Sky High Flying Canines, www.flyingcanines.com.
Spirit is the dog that sparked Stacy’s incredible passion for rescuing animals. But he is only the first of countless rescue missions that Stacy and Kirby have embarked on. Over 5,000 dogs have been saved from unnecessary euthanasia in just three years because of Stacy’s help along with the help of the many friends she’s made through rescue. After an incalculable amount of hours put into helping out and gaining experience with many fantastic rescue organizations, Stacy decided that it was time to start her own organization. This is how K9 Spirit Organization was started. Our mission is to help dogs in need, educate the public in responsible pet ownership, and stop puppy mills.