There's nothing small about Small Miracles Cat and Dog Rescue in Ellicott City.
Since its founding in 2009 as Small Miracle Cat Rescue, the nonprofit organization has saved the lives of over 6,000 stray, surrendered and abandoned cats.
In 2011, Small Miracles expanded to include dogs. To date, over 600 dogs have been rescued from high-kill shelters and abused, neglected and homeless situations.
Before the rescued animals are available for adoption, they receive a vet exam, vaccines, spay and neuter surgery, flea and tick treatment, de-wormer and stool check. In addition, cats are tested for feline leukemia and feline AIDS and dogs are tested for heartworm.
The visionary and tireless animal advocate behind Small Miracles is founder and president Moira Liskovec.
The idea began as a cat rescue run from her home. It quickly grew and, in 2009, Liskovec's late husband helped her move the operation to it's current location on Route 40 — a white house near the corner of Bethany Lane just past the Sunoco gas station. This move allowed Liskovec to expand her animal recuse to house 100 cats and 20 dogs.
Molly, a pit bull, likely used as a bait animal for dog fighting, was found whimpering in the basement of an abandoned Baltimore row house with such severe injuries that she required seven surgeries to repair bites covering her entire body, including the removal of one of her eyes.
Despite the pain of her horrific injuries and multiple surgeries, Molly always wagged her tail and gave kisses to her adoptive parents and fans. She even has a Facebook page "Hope for Molly" liked by almost 22,000 from around the world who followed her grueling recovery. After making tremendous strides for two months, sadly complications from her injuries proved too great and this sweet girl gained her angel wings this past February surrounded by her family and friends.
In March 2013, Molly's story was the impetus behind the groundbreaking bill passed by the Maryland legislature, House Bill 542 and SenateBill 360. Dubbed "Molly's Law," the bill makes dog baiting the same offense as dog fighting — giving law enforcement the tools to apprehend criminals who are using bait dogs for the heinous purpose of training fighting dogs.
The "tripod" kittens were also rescued by Small Miracles. Found under a home deck, the kittens were literally being eaten alive by rats. Several of the kittens' injuries were so extensive they required amputation of a leg, hence their "tripod" name. Luckily, all the kittens were treated and nursed back to health by Small Miracle volunteers and found caring and loving families.
Liskovec's extraordinary rescue efforts at Small Miracles attracted the attention of Howard County government, which named her 2011 Volunteer of the Year.
Her tenacity and fierce determination have also attracted a cadre of volunteers to Small Miracles who share her vision of animal advocacy. Ellicott City resident Steve Stanton, one of the owners of Jilly's Bar & Grill, and his son Steven Stanton are two of those volunteers.
When Liskovec posted a plea on Small Miracle's Facebook page that transport was needed for dogs, including two pregnant dogs, on death row in a West Virginia kill center, animal lover Steve Stanton answered the call.
Despite a debilitating back injury that required frequent drive breaks, a person to load the animals in his car plus an overnight stay in a hotel, Stanton agreed to drive six hours round trip to West Virginia. When he arrived, one of the dogs had just given birth and was not able to be transported. On the spot, he agreed to come back for the dog and her puppies, saving them from the euthanasia list.
A few weeks later, Stanton drove back to West Virginia with a larger van, courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and returned with numerous dogs including 21 puppies.
Just recently, Stanton participated in a third transport mission. This time he drove to Hagerstown to pick up 18 dogs that the SAFE organization had rescued and transported from another West Virginia kill center.
Small Miracles relies on a small network of volunteers who provide needy animals with shelter, socialization, training and necessary veterinary care in preparation for adoption.
Foster parent and volunteer Elizabeth Schroen told me the rescue would be able to save many more animals if they expand their foster parent, transport, donor and volunteer groups.
In fact, at the end of June, Small Miracles is in need of fosters for 15 chilhuahua dogs who are being flown in for free from a California high-kill center courtesy of a rescue group there.
Go to the Small Miracles' website at smallmiraclesrescue.org to view all the adoptable pet photos, volunteer opportunities and the rescue's wish list for items and services in need. Teenagers are also encouraged to contact the rescue for summer volunteer opportunities. Also, keep an eye out for Small Miracle's adoptable animals that are shown at Petco stores in Ellicott City and Columbia as well as at Today's Pet in Elkridge.