Rescue Spotlight: Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network

Running a rescue takes a lot of dedication and organization to boot, but that key factor to many rescues is networking. If any organization is serious about saving animal lives, they’ll tell you that you have to constantly be meeting people and finding the really dependable ones. That’s what one rescue depends on and has built itself into a national, all-volunteer, breed-specific organization. It’s all started with a little Cairn Terrier named Colonel Potter. Read his story and more about the organization he inspired in the BestBullySticks Rescue Spotlight on the Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network.

When & Why did you start?

Col. Potter began as the result of ONE little Cairn boy (named Col. Potter) who was tragically killed. As donations in his honor began to come in from Cairn club members  – so many wanted to help – the process began so that the organization was formed and became a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) in October 2001. Since that time, over 3,500 Cairns or mostly Cairn mixes have been rescued and brought into CPCRN (Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network). Many of the dogs that we have helped have been what is considered to be “non-regular” Cairn rescues—those from puppy mills (the breeding dogs) and those who are purchased at auction. We also handle those with some health issues and the elderly. Several have had Heartworm and were treated for this. Some have had some behavioral issues, and are now great little pals in private homes.

What’s different about your rescue?

Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network is truly a network of volunteers. We have 600+ members and 200+ active volunteers. We do not have a facility. We were the first non-shelter, all volunteer national online rescue group working across the U.S. and Canada. Our volunteers donate their time, homes, hearts, and money so that CPCRN can be the great organization it is. We are the largest single breed rescue and do not receive any corporate funding. All volunteers, including our Board of Directors and Officers, are unpaid. We have teams for all aspects of the rescue and adoption process: Communications; Home Visit; Foster Home; Match Maker (yes, that is right – matching the right home for the right Cairn); Contracts; Transport; Promotion/Fundraising; Medical; and the first stop for a rescue Cairn, the Intakes Team.

What is the greatest success story or “win” that your rescue has had?

We have two Cairns whose rescue stories stand out.

Two years ago, Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network received a call from the SPCA that they had saved numerous dogs from horrid conditions but had a couple of Cairns that they felt were impossibly un-adoptable, could we take them.

That is what Col. Potter Cairn Rescue does — the impossible. Not only could we take them, we could give them loving foster homes, nurse them back to health, and find them perfect furever homes. Sarut was one of these Cairns. She lived 6.5 years with filth, cruelty and abuse, producing litter after litter of puppies for money. Her tiny 12 pound body endured more than it’s share of neglect. Sarut was in danger of losing her life let alone both of her eyes. Sarut had a dental [checkup] when she was spayed, and besides the 5 missing teeth she had already, she had 17 more extracted. As if her emancipated body had not had enough hardship, she also had mange; they all did. Like all Cairns, Sarut was a fighter and wanted to live a good life. Col. Potter would move heaven and earth to do that for her and all the little Cairns we can.

Fortunately, Sarut did not lose her eyes. With loving care, numerous medications and constant eye drops, little Sarut improved and then flourished. Soon Sarut was healthy enough to be adopted. A fantastic couple had seen her picture and story on the Col. Potter Cairn Rescue adoption page, as well as Sarut’s own Facebook page, and knew they were meant to be Sarut’s loving family. And so it was to be, Sarut is now healthy, loved and a cherished member of a wonderful family.


We also have taken in Cairns with severe skin issues. Take Marvel. She was purchased at a pet shop. Her owner didn’t get her spayed and vet care was questionable. Marvel suffered from severe skin allergies from flea bites that were not treated. When her owner lost her home, she quickly turned Marvel and her other two Cairns (one of whom was Marvel’s surprise puppy) over to a rescue.

The rescue got the dogs and immediately contacted Col. Potter, as they didn’t feel they would be able to care for these dogs. They just weren’t used to taking in dogs in such poor health.

Little Marvel arrived at her foster home almost entirely naked at two years of age. She acted as if she felt as pathetic as she looked. She also showed a total lack of house manners such as knowing that dogs don’t get on tables. Her foster home immediately put Marvel on antibiotics for the bacterial skin infection and on meds to conquer the yeast infection. The initial vet had decided that her health was too poor to put her body through spay surgery. Not only was her skin in terrible shape, her eyes were infected, and she also had a pot belly and was drinking more water than normal. As soon as the bacterial infection cleared up, she started making progress in great bounds. She started to be a happy little girl instead of a depressed little dog. She enjoying going on walks in the park with her foster siblings. She loved everyone — human and canine. Her yeast started to disappear little by little and hair started sprouting. Soon she was a fuzzy little bundle and it was time to get her spayed and have her teeth cleaned. It’s not normal for a dog to be in a foster home unspayed or un-neutered but sometimes we need to get their health stabilized and improved before that important step can be taken. Having an unspayed or neutered dog means extra care for the foster mom or dad, but Col. Potter foster homes are willing to go above and beyond for the sake of the fosters.

Marvelous Marvy just kept getting better, although she continued to be mischievous about house manners other than pottying, which was perfect. Almost as soon as Marvel was made available, someone snapped her up and she was on a plane to her new home. Marvel is doing really well in her Forever Home. Her life could have been so different if she had gone to a shelter, as they would most likely have deemed her unadoptable and ended her life.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working at your rescue?

The people who make up Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network are AMAZING! It is a truly a second family, even though many have never met one another. Everyone has a life outside of rescue. Many of us have full-time jobs, families, and hobbies, but we are so devoted to this organization and helping in any way we can. A number of the Col. Potter volunteers do get to meet at fundraising events and for a few minutes on transports, which is so very rewarding! We all believe that saving just one dog won’t change the world, but it surely will change the world for that one dog. We are a strong team just like the Cairn Terriers we save.

What can people do to help your rescue?

We are 100% volunteer-based. We are always in need of volunteers, whether you can spare a few minutes a week or a few hours:  administration, communication (phone calls, reference checks, etc.), transporting dogs from point A to point B and beyond, making products such as belly bands for the boys, bandanas, pullovers, and shipping our products to customers. We are also in need of the organization of public education events to get the word out, to educate people that the puppy in the window is from a puppy mill and no matter how their heart strings are tugged – DO NOT SHOP – ADOPT! Sign up to volunteer here:! We always need more foster homes, as we can only save as many Cairns as we have foster homes. There are always more at the door. Apply to foster here: Or donate: Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network, c/o Danielle Rackstraw – Donations, PO Box 1354, Menifee, CA 92585-1354. We appreciate help in any capacity!

Thank you to Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network for sharing their story and even greater thanks for the work they do for this breed.

To read more inspiring stories or find a rescue in your neck of the woods, browse all of BestBullySticks Rescue Spotlights.

You can donate all natural bully sticks to any rescue or your choice! Check out our conveniently priced Charity Packs of Bully Sticks!

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