A small business, with a big mission;

To end k9 homelessness, and positively impact the lives of as many dogs as possible. 

 

Baribeau and Memon, New England natives, moved to Jacksonville, Fla., where they lived for three years before coming back to Rhode Island. The came back up north to start up Oh My Dog, a retail store, located at 259 Front St., in Lincoln. While living in Florida, the couple was horrified when they came across countless ads in which people were trading puppies for money or objects, or simply trying to get rid of them - many at just days old.

Memon said she and Baribeau traded an Xbox and even an old car for litters of puppies that Florida residents were looking to remove from their homes.

"I can't even tell you how many things we traded," Baribeau said, and explained that many times, people were just looking to make some quick cash in return for handing out puppies.

It got to a point, Memon said, where strangers would leave dogs on our front porch.

Memon said that puppies who are removed from their mother too early can experience immunity and behavioral issues, which are some of the reasons these pups wind up in shelters years later.

"All of that can be avoided if somebody intervenes early in their life, so that's what we started doing," Memon said.

The couple would meet with Craigslist sellers and attempt to talk them out of separating pups from their mother, and offered to pay for spaying or neutering surgeries so there would be no unwanted pups in the future. When any of these attempts failed, Memon and Baribeau continued to take in dogs that could otherwise be put in danger.

This was not the couple's original plan for their time in Florida, though. Memon had been taking law school classes in Florida, and had no intentions of having a dog - she was terrified of them.

It wasn't until Baribeau convinced her to get a pup, which they later named Nani, that she fell in love with the animals. After seeing first-hand how dangerously simple it was to get a puppy through Craigslist, Memon began rescuing with Baribeau.

"I was finding that school was interfering with rescue instead of it being the other way around, and I said, 'I think I figured out what I want to do with my life. I'm going to figure out a way to save these dogs,'" Memon said.

She then dropped out of law school and made a commitment to finding pups that needed homes. "We've never had less than five dogs in the house in the past six years," Memon said.

After about three years in Florida, Memon and Baribeau began to feel defeated. "We'd rescued something like 365 dogs," Memon said, "but we didn't even make a dent. It was exhausting."

The couple moved back to Rhode Island, but their efforts continued. The two started up Broken Tail Foster and Rescue of Rhode Island, a registered nonprofit, and named the organization after a pitbull they rescued at seven weeks old. Mosey, whose tail bent at a 90-degree angle, was the inspiration behind the name, Baribeau said.

This November marks two years since Oh My Dog opened on 259 Front St. in Lincoln. The retail-to-rescue store offers cage-free grooming, day care and training sessions, as well as dog products and foods Memon and Baribeau have tested with their own pets. Most of the profits go directly to their rescue service.

Adoption through Broken Tail includes spay or neuter surgery and age-appropriate vaccinations, a six-week basic obedience course, a microchip, and various deals at Oh My Dog on grooming, nail trimming and gear.

When reviewing an applicant's information, Baribeau said, the couple does a home check to make sure the space is safe, and matches dogs to people based on the dog's personality. Baribeau said the rescue service seeks "forever homes" where dogs won't switch owners or later wind up in a shelter.

"That's why our selection process is so in-depth," he said.

Many of the dogs the couple has rescued have become mobility assist dogs or service animals for military veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. "That's a really big accomplishment in my eyes," Memon said.

Oh My Dog supports other rescues in the area, Memon said, and donates constantly to the Lincoln Animal Shelter and Cumberland Animal Control.

"You shop at this store, essentially you're saving dogs," Memon said, "It's always the dogs over profit, any day."

She continued, "Dogs deserve us, they deserve the best of us. They're not getting the best of us right now, so I'm hoping to change that."