The Magical Story Behind One Rescue And All The ‘Gotcha Days’ They Bring To Life

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

April 2, 2016

This is Mike D’Elia and Ginger on their Gotcha Day. Mike lost his dog Louise a few months ago after 11 years of faithful companionship. He was overwhelmed with emotion on the day he met his newest pet Ginger.

Let’s rewind a little and tell you the history behind this photo.


“Gotcha Day” is a phrase that denotes the anniversary of the day on which a new pet member joins a family in the adoption process. It is sometimes also called “Homecoming Day,” “Family Day,” or “Adoption Day” – although the date can be different from date on which the legal adoption is made final.


Ginger’s life on the streets took an about-face when Peace Love Dogs Rescue brought her into their program. Darci Davenport and Melissa Raynor own the hearts behind this unique organization and together they rescue tons of abandoned, abused, and neglected dogs in Houston and surrounding areas. They provide every rescued dog with all the care and treatment necessary, for as long as it takes, so that they can move on to wonderful adoptive homes. Like Mike’s!

before pld 1

Since Houston has a severe pet overpopulation issue, they almost exclusively focus on promoting their efforts to potential adopters in the New England states. PLD has had a lot of success with this – largely due to their charm and the relationships they build with potential adopters. They answer emails promptly, are willing to find just the right pet-match for a family (if requested), send cute photos and videos to adopters prior to the transport, and are happy to answer any and all questions. Darci is a professional groomer, so the befores/afters of these little fluffy critters are a sight to behold. And, yes, this is all accomplished on a volunteer basis.


Melissa and Darci have enlisted Rescue Road Trips to make their Gotcha Days possible. You might be familiar with them from their New York Times Bestselling book entitled “Rescue Road” by Peter Zheutlin. Greg Mahle runs the show and has transported over 55,000 dogs to date on his weekly cross country trips over the last 10 years.

Take a look at their bi-weekly schedule of pick-ups in the South and drop-off’s in the North. So incredible.



The new adopters hold decorated signs, probably don’t get much sleep the night before, and are just busting to see which dogs’ name will be called next. One of the adopters, Danielle Caldwell is featured here with her family and had this to say:

It was like a birth really. I was already in tears when the doors of the trailer opened and Greg put Poppy in my arms. It was beautiful and so emotional for us!


Ebony’s Before/After!


Opal’s Before/After!


Hope’s Before/After!


Anne wanted to adopt a dog after her Golden Retriever passed away in June. She applied through Petfinder many times for several dogs and never heard anything back. She applied through PLD and even though the dog she was first interested in wasn’t a good match, she stayed in touch with Melissa. Anne spotted a photo the group posted of a dog still on the street. She knew right away this was the one.

She wrote Melissa and asked her to rescue the dog and she would adopt immediately. This happened just the day before she had plans to call a breeder to purchase a dog. Zoe now goes to work with Anne daily and is the love of her life!


Penny is a dog that PLD rescued after PA resident Tara Sollman reached out to them. Her Springer Spaniel passed away a few months ago and they were looking for another one to join their family and were adamant about adopting. A neighbor of the family in Houston who owned Penny was networking her after it was found Penny was being kept outside, allowed to roam the neighborhood, and was extremely underweight with matted hair.


After Penny was surrendered to the rescue, plans happened very quickly and Tara’s young children were excited for their new dog to join the family. It took a little over two weeks while Melissa fostered Penny in her home, but she was vaccinated, gained weight, got spayed, and then received a health certificate for transport.

Melissa’s young son nicknamed her PennyPotPie and it stuck. Here is Penny’s Gotcha Day!


Peace Love Dogs Rescue is thinking outside the crate. We love that they do things a little differently to get their dogs adopted and that they’ve really taken Gotcha Days to a whole new level.


I think Mike said it best:

The biggest problem is that dogs don’t live as long as we do. My heartbreak almost led me to not adopt again. But, Peace Love Dogs helped heal my broken heart with Ginger.



Find Peace Love Dogs Rescue on Facebook here.

Find Robyn Arouty on Facebook here.

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

April 2, 2016

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