TAYLORSVILLE — If you told John Sasser that he and his wife Diana had gone to the dogs they wouldn’t take it badly.
The two operate the Triple J Great Dane Rescue program and will be one of the featured participants in the upcoming Pet Adoptathon to be held at Petsense’s in Mount Airy on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The Sasser’s interest in the breed — which originated from breeding between mastiffs and wolfhounds to hunt wild board — began in 1978 when the first dog they adopted was a six-month-old puppy named Max who developed health issues. After taking Max to two different veterinarians, the couple had to take the pup to the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh where he was diagnosed with a type of rare, non-contagious mange.
Max’s immune system had no defense against the mites that spread mange. Soon infection developed around the bites and mites traveled under Max’s skin. The dipping treatments could not help him. Then family discovered Joe would have to accept a job opportunity in Florida. That state’s climate would make Max’s problems even worse. The couple had to make the painful decision to put Max down.
Upon returning to North Carolina years later, the Sassers promptly went to a Great Dane breeder and bought themselves another pup. The two became involved as a foster home with the Mid Atlantic Rescue group. The adopted their first foster dog named Shawn.
“Once we got involved with the fostering for them (Danes) it became a passion quickly,” explained Joe Sasser. “Our first four Great Danes we fostered…we adopted.” The couple had six Great Danes by 2004 and Sasser said he was having so much fun that he decided their add-on garage would make a nice kennel for rescued dogs.
In 2008, Sasser retired and he already knew what he wanted to do. He created Triple J Great Dane Rescue and received his non-profit certification in 2009.
“Now I have a 30-by-40 kennel that is air conditioned and heated with outside runs,” Sasser said. He also said he has added outside play yards and is proud he has only had to contribute labor. Materials came from a variety of places, such as a laundry in Hickory that he once managed.
Another firm had bought the facility and was converting it so all the building materials they didn’t want were carried to the Sasser’s garage-turned-kennel. He also said Craigslist has been a valuable resource for him to purchase supplies inexpensively.
“Over the years I’ve turned my place into being absolutely functional which many marvel at,” said Sasser. “Even if it’s not the best looking. It is still an ongoing project.”
Sasser says Mount Airy has always been good for him and his rescued dogs. Many of the dogs he has taken on came from the county’s shelter. He says there is still many dogs that are in need.
Triple J depends on donations for its operations. Sasser said 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Great Danes. Interested persons may send donations to Triple J Great Dane Rescue at P.O. Box 45, Taylorsville, NC 26861. All donations are tax deductible. A virtual fostering program is also offered. People may email Sasser at email@example.com.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.