A “dog person” or just about any kind of person would be touched by the mission of A New Chance Animal Rescue (ANCAR), a nonprofit organization based in Bedford Hills. It was formed in 2011 by a mother-daughter team who realized that there was ample need to rescue abandoned and unwanted dogs and a desire by people of all ages in the area to volunteer and help make a difference for these animals.

Sophia Silverman, a graduate of Fox Lane High School, said her family had been taking in hundreds of foster dogs over the years. At age 15, she and her mother Sharon decided to start their own rescue effort and began welcoming stray or surrendered dogs and those from kill shelters in such states as North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana. 

“We are entirely foster-based,” Silverman said. The rescued dogs are nurtured and introduced to home life; first put with a host family and then eventually moved to a permanent home. “We place the highest emphasis on matching our dogs to adoptive families—we get to know what the families’ lives look like and then match them to a dog that is appropriate.”

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All of the approximately 145 dogs that ANCAR takes in each year are temporarily housed within a 90-mile radius of Bedford Hills. Those offering their homes receive training support as well as supplies and paid medical care for the pet during the fostering period, which lasts about three to four weeks on average. They can choose a “foster-to-adopt” option, as well. 

“Some of our dogs have never known kindness, never have lived in a home, never have known a warm bed,” Silverman added. 

The benefits of rescuing dogs are mutual, said Mary Pat Wachter of Katonah, a longtime volunteer whose family has fostered multiple dogs. 

“Fostering allows my family to be a crucial bridge in making a love connection between dogs and their ‘forever’ families,” she said.

“Of course, it is always hard to say goodbye to the dogs when they get adopted, but it is a great reminder for my family that sometimes being a supporting actor is just as important as being the main character.”

Even some airplane pilots have joined the effort to save these vulnerable dogs.

The nonprofit group Pilots to the Rescue, whose volunteer pilots rescue and transport animals, has partnered with ANCAR to deliver dogs to our area. When the plane lands, the lucky canines are met by ANCAR volunteers who give each individual animal a dignified new lease on life through fostering and adoption. 

The work of the organization is supported entirely by private donations and it relies on dedicated volunteers to continue its mission.

Silverman said that the intake of the dogs, including elderly dogs and some that might require medical care, comes with a significant ongoing cost. 

“Between bedding, transport, leashes, collars, food and care, we are talking about upwards of seven- or eight-hundred dollars per dog,” she said.

The operation, however, continues to be a worthwhile labor of love. “Looking at a photo, three months after adoption, there is a light

in the dog’s eyes—it is something that was not there before—a softness in their face of a tension that has been released. It is just the most beautiful thing to see.”