Yoko Furuno is a woman who moves mountains to make things happen. As the Founder and Executive Director of DOGzHAUS Rescue, Yoko may be known simply as a dog rescuer, but it took a lot of her own hard work, determination and perseverance to get to where she is now.
Yoko arrived from Japan more than 20 years ago to study in the United States, but due to the limitations of her student visa, Yoko was unable to work and provide herself with a sustainable income. Eventually, Yoko got married and gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Although she was still unable to work, she decided to build a life in the U.S. for herself and her child. Yoko was living the American Dream, but her dream turned into a nightmare when she became a victim of domestic violence. Yoko knew if she left her marriage, she would have little or nothing left to her name. Fearing for her life, she packed her few belongings, her daughter and her animals into her car and set out to start a new life as a single mom.
Needing a job, Yoko found work as a newspaper delivery person for less than $30 a day. During this period of her life, Yoko says she felt humiliation and shame. To her dismay, she discovered that no one would lend her a helping hand in her dire situation. Not having much already, Yoko was forced to give up 90% of what she owned, including many of her cherished books. At no point, however, did she ever consider giving up her animals. One thing that kept her pushing herself forward, was to remember that as long as she and her daughter were alive and safe, she had a reason to smile. After finally obtaining her green card, her circumstances took a turn for the better.
Yoko admits she was very shy when she was child, but says that the dogs she grew up with “were always there for (her).” She was so incredibly affected the first time she visited a local shelter to adopt a dog; she left the shelter in tears after realizing how many dogs were basically waiting to be euthanized. Determined to help, she began to volunteer and do whatever she could to network and promote the adoption of shelter dogs.
In the US, there are an estimated 14,000 pet rescue groups and shelters taking in approximately 7.6 million cats and dogs annually. Of that figure, 2.7 million cats and dogs end up euthanized each year. In late 2013, Yoko founded DOGzHAUS RESCUE, a non-profit dog rescue organization. DOGzHAUS not only rescues dogs from animal shelters – prioritizing those who are on the brink of being euthanized – but allows owners, who can no longer keep their dogs, to surrender their dogs to DOGzHAUS. The DOGzHAUS RESCUE team works to find permanent, loving homes for their rescued dogs with qualified owners. They also educate the public about the benefits of adopting dogs from shelters and rescue organizations, and help raise awareness about the importance of the spaying and neutering of dogs. Last but not least, they provide instruction on proper dog care and training – focusing on the particular aspects of each breed – to current and prospective dog owners.
Always conscious of cost-saving methods, Yoko tackled and completed all of the non-profit paperwork to startup DOGzHAUS RESCUE – without the assistance of an attorney or a CPA. Even now, Yoko completes all of the monthly required financial paperwork, without a CPA. She does this in order to save thousands of dollars so she can use those funds for the many rescued dogs that DOGzHAUS supports. Not only is she a champion for dogs, Yoko has kept a day job to support her family.
Yoko’s outreach and charity has gone beyond dog rescue. When Yoko met a homeless woman, whose dog Yoko had found, she noticed how defensive the woman acted. Yoko understood her; in Yoko’s own brief homeless experience, she had felt insulted and degraded by others. Yoko also saw that the woman’s affinity for her dog was unmatched and that no amount of material items could ever compare to that kind of love. Not only did Yoko reunite the homeless woman and her dog, Yoko is now working with other organizations to help this woman get back on her feet again. Yoko has moved mountains in her personal life, but she also helps move others – both people and dogs – to a better, happier place. Yoko’s tip to anyone who wants to achieve their goals is: “Don’t give up. You can do it!”