RESCUING DOGS is a family labor of love for the Coughlins. Francine and Mike Coughlin and their daughter Ophelia prepare to take three of the dogs they flew home with to adopt out of Puerto Rico in June as part of a Rock n’ Rescue trip. (Courtesy Photo)

By ALLIE HASTINGS

NORTH READING The past few months have been eventful for North Reading resident and business owner Francine Coughlin as she is attempting to expand upon both her entrepreneurial and charitable endeavors.

Coughlin is the owner of Bark n’ Roll located at 211 Main Street, which provides boarding, daycare, and positive training services for dogs. She is also the founder of BnR’s Rock n’ Rescue, a charitable nonprofit organization that works to rescue dogs in need of forever homes and has been busy rescuing dogs from both Puerto Rico and Thailand over the past several months.

Due to an increased need for space and an uptick in puppy adoptions, Coughlin recently requested a special permit from the Community Planning Commission under its site plan review process for a property located at 72 Main Street, in the Walmart Plaza, to expand BnR’s business to a second location.

During the virtual meeting via Zoom with North Reading’s CPC on October 19, Coughlin stated that the new location would enable more opportunities for training programs, as she cannot adequately offer daycare, boarding, and behavioral training services in her current space.

Following a discussion, a motion was made to approve the site plan review special permit for Bark n’ Roll and approved by the four members of the CPC who were present. Four out of five members must approve special permits.

When her second location opens, Coughlin’s new storefront will be located in-between the Dollar Store and Triple AAA. This additional site will have a small retail section in the front but will primarily be used as a training-only studio, with Bark n’ Roll’s daycare center remaining at her current location at 211 Main Street.

Rock n’ Rescue’s global impact

Rock n’ Rescue was founded in 2018 but Coughlin has been rescuing dogs for approximately four and a half years. She recently stepped up her rescue efforts through working with two of Rock n’ Rescue’s major partners: Organización pro Bienestar, Rescate y Adopción de los Animales, Corp. (OBRA), which is based in Puerto Rico, and Soi Dog Foundation, headquartered in Phuket, Thailand.

This past June, she traveled to Puerto Rico with her husband Mike and their daughter Ophelia to meet with Rock n’ Rescue’s partner and OBRA’s founder, Giselle Colón, who rescues dogs in the mountainous region of Jayuya and all over the island so that they can be sent to a veterinarian in San Juan to receive their proper vaccinations.

Coughlin noted that there is definitely a need for rescue aid in Puerto Rico, as a lack of spay and neuter practices has led to an overpopulation of cats and an increase in the number of Puerto Rican Street dogs or SATOs wandering the island, abandoned. Through her partnership with Colón, Coughlin has managed to rescue over 100 mixed breeds from Puerto Rico, bringing these dogs to the United States to give them their happy ever after homes.

 

HEADING TO Washington, D.C. on a “crazy” 24-hour round-trip to pick up 19 Soi dogs from Thailand are Francine Coughlin and her dad, Ralph DiChiara. She organized the trip with Soi Dog to get as many dogs out as possible to U.S. before a CDC ban on dog imports was imposed over the summer. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Rescues dogs before CDC ban imposed

Rock n’ Rescue’s other major partner, Soi Dog Foundation, also benefited from Coughlin and her team’s tireless efforts this summer. On June 15, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a ban on all dog importations from countries that are at high risk for the canine rabies virus. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Phuket Island where Soi Dog Foundation is headquartered is rabies-free, Thailand was placed on the list of affected countries.

Upon hearing this devastating news, Coughlin wasted no time in springing to action.

“We made a crazy 24-hour round-trip to D.C. with two Great Dog New England staff members to pick up 19 Soi Dogs and transport them to Massachusetts. I organized this with Soi Dog to get as many dogs out as possible to land in the U.S. right before the ban; like a few days before it went into effect!” she said.

In the span of a month, she worked with Soi Dog’s medical, behavior, adoptions, and logistics teams as well as with multiple supporters, local volunteers, and rescue partners in New York and California to arrange for the freedom flights and transport of 86 dogs to the United States. Coughlin and her staff at Rock n’ Rescue exhausted all efforts to find adopters and forever homes for these rescued dogs, many of whom arrived to the United States suffering from a broken limb or worse.

As of now, the CDC ban will remain in effect for a full year, meaning that the Rock n’ Rescue cannot take in any dogs from the Soi Dog Foundation, which Coughlin describes as “heartbreaking.”

She supports the ‘Revise the Ban’ Campaign, which calls upon the CDC to kindly reconsider their blanket ban and to favor an approach that would continue to permit the safe passage of fully vaccinated animals from bonafide organizations like Soi Dog, and encourages concerned citizens to add their name to Soi Dog’s petition letter on the Foundation’s website.

Local events

Earlier this month, Coughlin held Rock n’ Rescue’s annual reunion fundraiser at Bone Up Brewing Co. in Everett, which garnered a turnout of roughly 200 people, who attended with their beloved adopted rescues. Local businesses, including The Maids of New England, Axle Color Studio, Eastern Bank, Reading Cooperative Bank, the Boston Bruins Foundation and others helped to sponsor the event.

A record amount of ticket sales and raffle baskets were donated. Giselle Colón, Coughlin’s rescue partner in Puerto Rico, made a special trip here to attend the reunion and meet some of the families she had a hand in bringing together.

As Coughlin likes to host events monthly, she encourages the families that have adopted dogs through Rock n’ Rescue to keep their eyes peeled for announcements to be posted within the coming weeks. In December, she is hoping to work with a professional photographer to offer a photo shoot weekend, during which families can register to get photos of their dogs taken for the holidays.

How to support

Rock n’ Rescue

All of Rock n’ Rescue’s adopters are required to enroll their dog in a six-week positive reinforcement group training class or schedule a private session with one of their certified trainers within 90 days of adopting. Rock n’ Rescue requires proof of certificate of enrollment and completion to ensure all adoptable dogs will not be subjected to aversive methods of training.

Those who have questions about adopting through Rock n’ Rescue may contact the new Director of Operations, Lauren Evans or Francine Coughlin directly by emailing [email protected] by filling out the contact form at https://www.rescueallthedogs.org/contact.

To learn more about how the CDC ban is affecting the Soi Dog Foundation and to sign their petition letter, visit: https://www.soidog.org/cdc-usa-ban-2021/sign

To donate to Rock n’ Rescue, view their list of “Five Ways to Donate” at: https://www.rescueallthedogs.org/donate.