SAN MARCOS — Morning commuters heading to the 78 might not realize that the people walking more than a dozen German shepherds by California State University San Marcos and the shopping center across the street are volunteers for a rescue group.
“Sometimes people ask if there is a German shepherd parade going on,” said Denise von Muhlen, a volunteer since 2009.
The Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of San Diego started as a chapter from Coastal German Rescue in Orange County in 2008. Teresa Baltao was the founder of the San Diego chapter and was the director until earlier this year.
San Marcos Kennel on Twin Oaks Valley Road boards the rescue group’s dogs and the volunteers walk the dogs. There are more than 40 active volunteers, according to the group.
Volunteers tend to carry the rescue’s business cards since there are always curious people who stop their cars to ask about the dogs being walked.
“When I walk the dogs, I always make sure to smile at people looking at the dogs I walk, hopefully inviting them to come say hello and ask questions about them,” said volunteer Wendy Lynn.
Lynn started a couple months ago volunteering with the rescue group and is in love with all the dogs there, especially the older ones.
“I have such hope that people adopt and do not shop at puppy mill stores,” Lynn said. “These dogs deserve a loving home, especially the older dogs who tend to not get adopted compared to puppies. But we all have hope that the veteran dogs will find a forever home.”
The dogs that are up for adoption tend to be abandoned rescues from Southern California shelters. Also, the rescue takes in dogs from families who can no longer care for their German shepherd dogs and are open for requests from different animal welfare organizations.
“The most important criteria we have when evaluating a candidate to join our organization is that the dog should be adoptable. We do rescue dogs with medical and behavioral issues that can be addressed,” von Muhlen said. “Our mission is to rehabilitate and find loving homes for all our beloved dogs.”
San Marcos resident Dillon Price started volunteering with the rescue group a month ago out of curiosity about the people walking the German shepherds.
“I attend Palomar and every morning, I drive past CSUSM, I would always see people walking German shepherds,” Price said. “I was so curious as to why there were all these people walking those dogs. I decided to call the (San Marcos) Kennel, where I saw the dogs coming out and found out there was a rescue boarding dogs there.”
Price decided he wanted to volunteer and has loved it.
“It has been so rewarding walking these dogs that need homes,” he said. “However, it has been difficult hearing some of the stories as to why they are here.”
Von Muhlen stated many people who adopt have unrealistic expectations about a dog they purchased or adopted as a puppy. Some owners tend to get bored when the dog grows up or the puppy is too much work.
“It’s very sad when a dog is turned into the rescue,” she said. “However, I’d rather focus on the new loving home we are going to work hard to find for each dog than in the sad example of a human being who abandoned the dog.”
Adoption events happen on Saturdays in Del Mar at various locations. It is rare for the group to have an event without at least one adoption. If interested in adopting a German shepherd or volunteering with the rescue group, visit Coastalgsrsd.org.