It’s been a little bit since our last rescue spotlight, we’ve been distracted working on our bags on rolls which are coming late August! Without further ado, we’d like to introduce Sharyn!

Meet Sharyn from Long Island, New York. Sharyn is co-founder of Get-A-Bull Rescue (

What is the Gemma Rose Project?:
To be brief, the Gemma Rose Project is a dog waste (poop) bag supplier that aims to raise awareness of animal rescue and also provide an avenue of sustainable funding for animal rescue organizations. Read more about us here.

What is the ‘rescue spotlight’? 
The rescue spotlight is a core component in the Gemma Rose Project’s mission. It’s purpose is purely to raise awareness of animal rescue, the people involved, while giving a genuine insight into what happens behind the scene. We want to make the general public aware of the good, the bad and the ugly truths about what goes on. The rescue spotlight also gives us an opportunity to award those who are dedicating their lives and giving up their valuable resources to help animals in need.

Rescue Spotlight, Edition #4: This is one of our first spotlights based in the local community that Gemma Rose is based out of, Long Island. We got in touch with Sharyn through the founder of an awesome local Long Island pet-walking business, Therese of Suburban Pets. Sharyn is proof that ANYONE can make a significant impact on dog/animal welfare no matter the situation. Sharyn’s journey started with very little knowledge of dogs in an apartment in Queens, NY and evolved to her very own rescue operation. She leaves us with a beautiful message to “open our minds” … “Whether it’s about the age of the dog, a special need, a breed – don’t be so focused on what you think you want in a dog but more on personality traits and your lifestyle and then let the rescue make recommendations based on that.” Read Sharyn’s wonderful interview below!

As part of our Rescue Spotlight tradition, we sent Sharyn a $25 gift card to

(Gemma Rose Project): Tell us a little about yourself, how/when you got into animal rescue and which organization you work with?
(Sharyn): I am the co-founder of Get A Bull Rescue serving pit bull breed dogs and their families in Long Island and Connecticut. I began in animal rescue so long ago, when I was living in an apartment in Queens that only allowed me to have cats (I had two.) I began volunteer dog walking for a local rescue on the weekends and fell in love with a dog named AK. He was strong and powerful but we became good friends. I didn’t even realize until much later on that he was a pit bull! That’s how little I knew about dogs. From that point on I never stopped volunteering for various rescues until founding Get A Bull with my friend Laura. I also currently volunteer walking dogs at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. I grew up with labs and a shepherd and while I truly love all breeds of dogs, I have grown to adore dogs that encompass the “pit bull” label. It’s really a very vast category which is made of so many breeds of blocky headed dogs from american bulldogs, boxers, american staffordhire terriers etc – all mixed together. We call them all pit bulls but they are all different. They are different sizes, they have so many different colors, different ears, different tails, different energy levels. They are all different but get lumped into this one breed, that’s not really a breed. The shelters, especially here in the NY area are full of them. And I don’t think it’s the dogs faults. They all seem to come from the same backyard breeders, really sad beginnings, irresponsible owners, and then we get to turn their lives around.

(Gemma Rose Project): 
Can you tell us about the rescue operation on Long Island? Do many dogs come from Long Island itself or do they come from out of state?

(Sharyn): The majority of the dogs in our rescue come from the LI and CT area – either from local municipal shelters or owner surrender situations.   We do work with one specific shelter and rescue partner in Louisiana that is a rescue only shelter, meaning they don’t do public adoptions, only way out alive is via rescue.  We rescue primarily puppies and non-pit bulls from this shelter and most of the dogs need to be treated for heartworm disease which is done before they are transported.

(Gemma Rose Project): How many dogs have passed through your foster-care in those years? And how many times have you ‘foster failed’?
(Sharyn): In my house specifically I have had about 15 dogs come through!  And many cats as well.  I have foster failed with most of my current pets, Fred, Mewissa and Troy – in their cases because they had medical or behavioral issues that made them hard to adopt out.  Except for my dog Cookie who was legitimately a foster fail for no good reason but love.

(Gemma Rose Project): 
How do you handle bringing in animals that don’t get along with each other? Have you ever come across such a scenario?
(Sharyn): Yes dogs not getting along is inevitable.  My personal dogs have gotten very used to new dogs coming in over the years which is helpful.  When a new dog comes in, I am in no rush to make introductions.  Gates and crates are invaluable tools and I usually have crates all over the house so I am able to shuffle the new dog around, let them see everyone else.  I have had a few fosters that have had to remain totally separate and it’s not easy but you just shuffle them around and then your attention gets divided which is challenging.  Currently I have a unified pack of 4 which is really easy to manage, but there is always a foster around the corner that will shake things up.  I have experienced horrible dog fights unfortunately which causes me to be more cautious than ever.

(Gemma Rose Project): How has fostering and being involved in animal rescue impacted you financially?

(Sharyn): Well fostering should never be a financial burden because the animal rescue should be covering those costs – so I don’t want to deter anyone from choosing to foster!!
For myself personally, rescuing animals is my passion, it’s what I think about most of the time and it’s where a lot of my money goes.  I don’t overthink it, it just is what it is!!  When people say that rescues are in it to make money though, I laugh out loud.
I used to spend all my money on shoes and clothes and now I spend it on pet supplies and vet bills.

(Gemma Rose Project): What has been the most difficult part of fostering and animal rescue?
(Sharyn): The animals are always the easy part!!  It’s dealing with people that can be really challenging.  The callous way some people treat and dump their animals can be hard to bear.  Thinking of new fundraising ideas, building a team, administrative tasks, all of this stuff is the hardest for me personally.

(Gemma Rose Project): On the contrary, what has been the most rewarding?
(Sharyn): Really starting Get A Bull with my friend Laura has been the most rewarding thing.  I always had ideas about how I would do things and I’m proud of the way we do rescue. We focus on the dogs, we go above and beyond for our foster and adoptive homes and we are very hands on.  Our rescue has grown yes but we would like to to stay on the smaller side so we can always be very hands on with all the dogs.  We think it is a huge responsibility to place a dog, especially, a pit bull breed dog, with a family.  And we don’t cut corners in doing that.  I love watching our dogs becoming beloved family members.  I get to see where they started and their journey to home.

Also, I have had the honor to take on two “fospice” dogs and it’s my favorite thing to do in rescue.  Both were quite old and homeless and both had cancer and it really felt like an honor to be there for them for the last month or two of their lives.  One that I rescued last year named Rocky had a huge impact on me.  Nicest dog I have ever met, 16 year old pit bull, and the 5 weeks we had together were amazing.  My dogs really embraced and loved him too.

(Gemma Rose P
roject): What is your most memorable moment in animal rescue?; is there one that stands out the most?

(Sharyn): Really all the dogs are special to me but the harder cases, those tough placements are the most meaningful.  Those dogs that wait so long for a home and you feel like it will never come and then wow, the perfect person finally shows up and it all makes sense.  I have to remind myself of those cases a lot so I don’t lose hope.  

(Gemma Rose Project): What is a something about animal rescue that you would want the general public to be aware of?
(Sharyn): I want the public to open their minds just a little bit.  Whether it’s about the age of the dog, a special need, a breed – don’t be so focused on what you think you want in a dog but more on personality traits and your lifestyle and then let the rescue make recommendations based on that.  Like often times people think they want a puppy but they don’t really want to put the work into raising a baby.  It takes a lot of work!!  Consider that overlooked adult dog who is going to be so appreciative.

We hope you enjoyed reading Sharyn’s story as much as we enjoyed capturing it! Thank you again Sharyn for what you do on a daily basis.

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Much Love,
Nick & Gemma