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Apr 5, 2010 8:25 PM by Elaine Sheridan

Local dog rescue is looking for a new home

A local dog rescue that was made famous after the Denver pit bull ban enforcement had Denver dog owners scrambling to find homes for their illegal pets, is now scrambling to find a home themselves.

The owners of Mariah's Promise Animal Sanctuary, a rescue for pit bulls-type dogs, say financial problems could force the seven-year-old shelter to move from its Divide, Colorado location.

The property owned by Toni Phillips and her husband, Mike, is currently under foreclosure. The couple hopes that they will be able to come to an agreement with their lender, but if they can't they will forced to move from its current location as early as next week.

Foreclosures and moves aren't easy for anyone, but it makes even more difficult when the fate of 87 dogs-65 of them pit bulls-lies in the balance.

"We are determined to find a safe place for the dogs," Toni Phillips said. "Ideally, we'd like to find a vacated boarding kennel where we could move the dogs without upsetting them too much."

She cited the economy, which severely impacted the Phillips' personal business that supported the rescue as the reason for the sanctuary's need to relocate. Phillips said there are several possibilities where the shelter could relocate, but nothing has been finalized.

"We have been struggling since our business plummeted, but there is nothing wrong with the dogs," she said. "This is purely an economic situation where we cannot keep our current property. We just want to do everything we can to ensure that the dogs are safe."

The three-acre non-profit organization says they have been successful in finding new homes for many dogs since opening in 2003. . "Last year we took in 197 dogs and placed 148," Phillips said. In fact, Mariah's Promise has been a major landing spot for pit bull types since the Denver metropolitan area began enforcing its breed ordinance in 2005.

"We've tried to do all we can since that time to take care of so many pit bulls that were given up because of this horrible law," she said. "What they are doing in Denver and any other breed-ban city is terrible. It takes animals out of loving homes where they are wanted and cared for, and then puts them in harm's way."

The group has five full time volunteers and many others that help out on weekends. If they are forced to move volunteers from Best Friends Animal Society in Utah will help move the dogs. For now, the Phillips' are watching, waiting and hoping that the right solution for the dogs will come along.

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