Meet a Student: Lauren Sanders
After years of pushing her passion for animal rescue to the side—waiting for when she was “more established” in her career, she says—recent graduate Lauren Sanders, J.D. ’13, started the Baltimore-based nonprofit organization Saving Grace Animal Rescue of Maryland, which accepts cats and dogs when shelters don’t have space to house all the animals that come to them. Sanders named her organization after her first rescue pet, Grace, a gray-and-white, spotted tabby. While the rescue is run out of Sanders’ home, it also helps place animals in a network of foster homes throughout the city.
Q: What inspired you to transition from being a pet foster mom to starting the Saving Grace Animal Rescue of Maryland?
A: I always knew I wanted to start an animal rescue; it just took some people believing in me and the courage to step out and do it. It was really scary to put myself out there like this, but it has been so rewarding, especially when I get emails from the adopters saying how they love the animal that we saved. My most favorite part of the rescue is the look on [the pets’] face when they leave our care. It’s awesome.
Q: How did you manage your time between your law studies and the animal rescue?
A: I get [this question] all the time. It’s funny, because I am also newly married and I coach a national travel volleyball team for 14-year-olds; we practice three nights a week and travel on weekends. If you are doing the things that you care about, you find the time. I also have amazing volunteers who help out when I can’t get stuff done. My husband is also super understanding, which makes a big difference. I found that if I schedule my life, I can get it all done. It can be very difficult and has the potential to burn me out. Sometimes, I have to say no, just to take a day to get life stuff done. But I make sure that I do take time for myself, so that I can keep doing what I’m doing.
Q: How do you see the animal rescue growing? What are your plans for it?
A: I would love to see the rescue eventually grow into a no-kill shelter, but I have a lot to learn (and finances to raise) before we could get there. My goal is to grow [the rescue] naturally, so I am not pushing to grow too fast—I don’t have time for that—but as we get foster families, we find an animal to fit into their home. So we will keep growing, and I will keep learning, and we will save as many animals as we can, because that’s what it’s all about.
Q: How can people get involved with your animal rescue?
A: We need volunteers on all levels. Our primary need is [for] foster [families] who open their homes [to animals while the shelter tries to find permanent placements for them]. The great thing about fostering is we cover the costs [food, medicine and supplies]—you just open your home and provide the love. We need people to do reference checks [on potential adoptive families], drive the animals to appointments and volunteer at events. I am also looking for someone to take on planning events. In addition, we need donations to cover the medical bills for our animals, because sometimes the adoption fee doesn’t cover [them].
Nicole Reagan is a graduate student in the M.A. in Publications Design program and a graduate assistant in the Office of University Relations.