Holly Moen adopted her first basset hound from Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue in 2000 because she wanted a companion for a new puppy. Little did the Cody resident know that she would one day become the organization’s director.
Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue was founded by Erica Phillips in Casper in 1987. When she decided to retire in 2005, she looked to Moen to continue her work with bassets.
“Since my husband and I had been helping with fostering, transporting, that sort of thing, she [Phillips] asked if we would be interested in taking it over,” Moen said.
Not only is Moen the Cody-based organization’s director, she has continued to adopt basset hounds. She and her husband, Allen, currently are the adoptive parents to two 12-year-old basset males, Oscar and Copper. The duo makes six bassets the Moens have adopted.
The Moens fostered Oscar after his owner relinquished him in August 2007. Since Oscar has motion sickness and no one stepped forward to adopt him after five months, the Moens did so.
Copper was originally a Casper shelter dog the organization rescued. After two adoption placements fell through, the Moens adopted him in November 2008.
“Oscar and Copper have been great rescue, family dogs,” Moen said. “We had Cyndi, Toby, Ally and Wishy before them, but all six rescues were [and] are just great. [They have] different personalities — like people [they] can vary. Oscar had to have been a clown in a former life.”
Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue has rescued, fostered and re-homed hundreds of dogs in its existence — roughly two to three dozen of the adorable, long-eared hounds with short legs each year — with a maximum of 62 dogs one year. The organization also has rescued bloodhounds (think bassets with longer legs) since 2014.
“Somebody contacted us about [a bloodhound] that was on one of the Facebook [marketplaces] — Powell Valley or something like that — that somebody was giving away in Lovell,” Moen said. “And they asked if we’d take them. So it’s just like a taller basset.”
Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue is not only active throughout Wyoming, but it is also active in all of the bordering states, plus North Dakota — eight states in all.
“It feels good when you find a good family and people that love the dogs as much as we do — the volunteers,” Moen said. “We have volunteers everywhere.”
They’re in Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and the Dakotas.
With such a wide area to serve, Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue’s lifeblood is in its volunteers, not all of whom are able to have pets in their homes.
“Really, the whole thing’s about volunteers,” Moen said, then added, “There’s just people that want to transport. They can’t maybe foster, or maybe the people that do foster, they eventually adopt some of their fosters [dogs] and then they can’t foster anymore because they’ve got too many dogs.”
Moen said Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue goes through a vetting process to make sure their adoptions are successful.
“With our adoption process, we go through an application that the people have to fill out,” Moen said. “We check their references, we check with their prior veterinarian — just make sure that they’re truthful in their application. Once we get to the point of somebody actually adopting, then we do home visits. Depending upon the location, we can get some people in the area that want to go by the house and make sure the fenced yard is fenced, and that sort of thing.”
In addition to rescuing bassets and bloodhounds, Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue hosts an annual picnic, usually at Hugh Smith Park in Cody in June. The organization also does an annual Santa pet photo shoot in early-to-mid November in cooperation with Park County Animal Shelter at Tractor Supply in Cody. Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue also has a website (www.wyomingbassetrescue.com), a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/wyomingbasset), a newsletter, and also seeks to educate people about dog rescue. Judy Lumbardy administers the Facebook page, Jane Elliott runs the website and Michael Ryan is in charge of the newsletter.
Beyond the many dogs Moen has adopted, she said the dogs who have required Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue to go the extra mile have stood out.
“If any [dogs] stand out, they would be the ones that we had to put more time and energy into,” Moen said. “We have had our surgery cases because of their already-crooked feet that they can end up with in the front — with their front legs — sometimes due maybe to inbreeding or maybe malnutrition. We’ve had a couple where we’ve had to do surgery because they were so deformed that their legs weren’t functioning and they really weren’t comfortable even standing.”
One of those dogs was Nick, who was more or less deserted by his owners in their backyard about five years ago, Moen said. Though he has since passed away, he is still remembered fondly by Moen.
“He needed some surgery for removal of cancer,” Moen said. “He ended up being diabetic — but he was just the most mellow, laid-back, happy dog. [Bassets] don’t hold grudges. ... He was just one of those dogs that liked everybody.”
(Editor's note: This version corrects the name of Moen's husband.)