Our Facilities

A Collection of Photos from LoveHandlers Animal Sanctuary












Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together
…. Author unknown…








Why I Volunteer at LoveHandlers


LoveHandlers is completely staffed by volunteers.  No one has ever taken a salary. LoveHandlers runs on the good will of two full time volunteers and two additional volunteers. It’s a good thing we set up operation in the “Volunteer State”. This has been the way it’s been since we started many years ago.  We thought we would ask these good folks “Why do you volunteer at LoveHandlers?”.  Here’s what they told us:

When I was asked to write about why I volunteer I was a little taken back.  I actually had to stop and think about “Why”?  The question I wanted to ask immediately was,  “Why Not?”  You need only to look into all the eyes of those souls with wagging tails and you would know why.  I thought about this.  When you visit high kill facilities and see pens filled with dogs, knowing you are the last chance for some of them, why wouldn’t I volunteer.  It is these beautiful dogs – living souls, wagging


tails, wet tongues – all attempting to get your attention is why I volunteer.

With over 3000 dogs in Eastern Tennessee being put down weekly, we need to have all hands on deck.  Whether just an hour or two a week, or a full lifestyle of volunteering, these dogs need help.   When you work with a dog that has been newly rescued — one that is so frightened and so nervous of what is coming next — and you watch them transform into the life light creatures they were meant to be, that is why you volunteer.  When you groom him or bath her, towel them dry, and see how those scared fearful look in the eyes transforms right in from of you into soft gentle loving wagging tail beings, that is why you volunteer.  On a day when you load a dog onto a transport to say good bye, knowing you’ll never see it again because it’s heading to it’s forever home, and the last gift, the only gift of thank you that dog can give to you is a lick of it’s tongue connecting to your cheek, that is why you volunteer.  The unconditional love of appreciation in that very swift moment of goodbye is why you volunteer.
I would encourage anyone to take a Saturday morning and observe a northbound transport for dogs who will be meeting their new families.  Position yourself to watch the growing crowds gathering and anticipating the arrival of their newest member of the family on these customized, climate controlled freight liners.  Watch people of all ages waiting to experience life’s magic.  Listen to them as the silent nervous anticipation evolves into  joyful sounds of  applause, with screams and vocal yells of delight to see that southern transport arriving with a precious cargo of wagging tails.   Watch as folks line up as the transports door opens wide and the first precious best friend walks off, hitting the ground with jumping excitement to meet his or her new family.  Watch as adopters choke up, tears of happiness flowing down their cheeks and hearts pounding so hard that even an observer can feel them.  Watch the hugs and licks as new best friend relationships begin. Why do I volunteer?  I can hardly wrap my mind around that question; I guess my best answer to that question is “Why Not?”.   

I’ve always believed in treating others the way I would like to be treated.  I was raised that way.  And It seems natural to me to include animals under the umbrella of that principle.  That’s especially true for the vulnerable, those that are homeless, disabled, abused.  No living creature, human or animal,


should ever have to live in fear, without the assurance of quality food, safe shelter and a gentle touch.  I’ve seen that a well-run animal rescue like LoveHandlers provides just that while attempting to connect each dog with a carefully selected “forever home”.

I do love dogs.  I always have.  But wishing them well won’t protect them or find them a home.  So actually doing something is what makes a difference.  Of course I could help through a monetary donation, as I have on occasion.  (Most folks with pets realize how much quality pet food and vet care has gone up in recent years, so money can always be put to good use by a reputable animal rescue.)  But I am of limited resources so a more workable way for me to help care for these little friends of mine is by volunteering a couple times a week at LoveHandlers.  I get to help feed the dogs, clean up after them, brush and bathe them, break up fights when necessary, talk to them, soothe them and look into their eyes and tell them it’s going to be OK.  I also enjoy maintenance duties like repairing gates, fences, pens and crates, helping to build dog houses, decks, play areas.  Most any needed task accomplished is a reward.
So why do I volunteer?  I volunteer to support a cause I believe in.  I volunteer to help animals I care about.  I volunteer for the privilege of working with people at LoveHandlers who moved where they were needed and have literally built a life around their love of animals.  Their sacrifices seven days a week and their fierce determination to make things better for those in their care inspires me and makes me want to try to be a better person.  I also volunteer for the joyful farewell (and sometimes misty eyes) for a special friend who is leaving on transport to their new family and home.  And of course, I volunteer for the unconditional “puppy love”.  The joyful barks, the licks, the wags, the raucous leaps into the air that greet me each and every time I enter the gate.  I get so much in return for the little I can offer.  It’s a pretty good deal.

Mark Twain once said, “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog”.  Dogs and humans have been sharing this world together fo


r a very long time.  In some ways, dogs consistently have the better qualities of unconditional love, living in the moment, quick to forgive, and loyalty.  Also…dogs don’t text, use up the Wi-Fi, hog the remote control, or care about the Kardashians…so there’s that too.  It seems that we humans can do a better job of caring for them.  Ivolunteer at LoveHandlers because the dogs inspire, entertain and welcome me.  It’s my way to give back to these wonderful beings.  They are my family.

I volunteer because it’s a win. Who wins? Well, it’s actually 4 wins. Most importantly, the dog wins because he or she gets extra attention that might not happen otherwise. I enjoy spending time with the dogs, letting them lick my face and pull on my shoelaces. I like giving them big hugs. Another win is for the family that adopts

the dog. They get a happier, more socialized dog that will hopefully not have some of the behavioral problems attributable to being attention starved. My friends, who’ve dedicated their lives to this rescue operation, win because they have just a little help. It’s just a day every now and then when they get some help and can spend more time on that neverending “to do” list. Finally, I win because I feel like I’ve done something; helped out in some way to make the world just a tiny bit better. Who cannot go home, feeling really great after just having played with a group of happy, lovable dogs?


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