Article Written by: Robert Blizard…
She wasn’t allowed to have a dog as a child and once worked as a receptionist for the hit music group Hall & Oates, but, decades later, Unchain America founder and president Robin Budin has helped improve the lives of more than 300 dogs since launching the nationwide nonprofit in 2016.
“We are so far at 60 dogs assisted as of March 31 this year and we helped 150 last year,” she said. Unchain America has at least one or two volunteers in every state, according to Budin, who lives in the small western Massachusetts town of Longmeadow.
With a mission to “help chained, penned, caged, stray or surrendered dogs in their most desperate time of need,” Unchain America coaches animal lovers who want to save a dog from a life of misery spent on a short tether or in a small fenced enclosure. People from coast to coast contact the organization to report a dog(s) in inhumane conditions, seek advice on interacting with the owner or animal control as a means of getting the animal(s) out of the situation, and/or ultimately find a forever home for the dog(s).
“No dog should ever suffer at the end of a chain or be tortured in a pen. There is no such thing as an outdoor-only dog,” Budin said. “All dogs are family members who belong inside. They should be loved, bathed, fed, trained, walked, and sleep in a dog bed or your own bed.”
After learning about the plight of chained dogs through Hurricane Katrina coverage, she reached out to Dogs Deserve Better (DDB), a group that also rescues dogs living outdoors in poor conditions. For DDB, she served as a volunteer and in a staff role as national rescue coordinator.
“I would check on chained or penned dogs if e-mails came into headquarters as a DDB representative for Massachusetts and Connecticut,” she said. She also increased the Facebook page’s number of likes from 150,000 to 750,000.
After seven years of service with DDB, she launched the eponymous organization Robin Budin Rescue to help more canines. As donations picked up, Budin changed the name to Unchain America and obtained 501c3 charity status through the IRS. In early 2018, the group celebrated helping its 300th dog.
What led her to this life of doing so much to save man’s best friend? Budin worked in the music business in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She worked for acts including Hall & Oates, Aerosmith and Ted Nugent. Her background also comprises stints in insurance, banking, marketing and work behind the scenes on Broadway’s “Beatlemania.” Later, she began volunteering to transport pitbulls and other dogs from Florida to rescue groups and shelters in the Northeast that would find forever homes.
Her personal pets have included several Cavalier King Charles spaniels, chocolate Labrador retrievers (one of whom she found on the street), an American Staffordshire terrier, and even some cats.
Callie, a formerly chained Alaskan husky who was tied in a pen with 110 other huskies and husky mixes, was another companion.
“When she came to us, she was about two years old, very shy, and emaciated. Callie has come a long way in the seven years our family has shared their lives with her,” she said.
Later, Budin rescued Lulu from an RV park in Mississippi, where she was going to be shot.
Knowing the joy of rescuing chained or penned dogs and seeing them blossom into the loving pets they were meant to be, Budin’s charity offers an America 2018 Fund to individuals and dog rescue groups willing to unchain a dog, find a foster, and secure an adoptive home.
“The America 2018 Fund will pay up to $250 directly to the veterinarian to cover vaccines, exams, de-wormer, a heartworm test, and spay or neuter,” she explained.
Unchain America also occasionally asks for contributions to cover expensive and lengthy treatments for heartworm-positive dogs. Typically, funds are generated via the group’s Facebook page with more than 5,400 followers.