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A toast to the underdogs 

Two champions for canines rescue the good, the bad, and the

- BLONDE, BEAUTIFUL, BALLSY :  Cheri Lucas (left) of Second Chance at Love Humane Society, and Debby Sweet of Short 'n' Sweet Dog Rescue, rescue the most challenging homeless dogs, among them (left to right) Pearl, Roxanne, Miss Muffett, and Duke. -  - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • BLONDE, BEAUTIFUL, BALLSY : Cheri Lucas (left) of Second Chance at Love Humane Society, and Debby Sweet of Short 'n' Sweet Dog Rescue, rescue the most challenging homeless dogs, among them (left to right) Pearl, Roxanne, Miss Muffett, and Duke.

Debby Sweet and Cheri Lucas, the founders of Short ’n’ Sweet Dog Rescue and Second Chance at Love Humane Society, respectively, in Templeton are devoted to the outcasts of the animal world. Helping the traumatized, injured, helpless, and sometimes scary strays from the streets and the pounds’ “green mile,” their noble cause takes a lot of dirty work. They will be beneficiaries of the upcoming Pouring Wines for Canines & Felines event on May 14.

“I’m very comfortable with blood, and gore, and poop, and paralysis, and giving shots, and whatever,” Debby Sweet said. “So, I can help some animals that others may shy away from.” She practically single-handedly tends to more than 80 dogs on her 36-acre ranch. Most were rescued from what she calls the “Euth List” (dogs at risk of being put to sleep by California shelters): Her charges are primarily small, and largely ill, handicapped, or injured. With a background in animal health, Sweet began 15 years ago by rescuing specifically chihuahuas and Chinese cresteds before founding the all-encompassing Rescue Alliance for Hairless and Other Dogs in 2005.

“Other” would be a good description for the miscellaneous medically challenged mutts that melt Sweet’s heart. Case in point: a senior Chinese crested named “Ooglee” that was suffering from a malignant carcinoma, cataracts, and a half-missing jaw. After some Short ’n’ Sweet time (and hundreds of dollars in medical bills), Ooglee was not only adopted, he was entered in an Ugliest Dog contest.

Cheri Lucas’ chosen rescues are not quite the picture of the cuddly pup, either. Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other “tough” breeds constitute the more than 30 residents presently at her Second Chance at Love sanctuary. Lucas walks six to eight miles a day, leading packs five to ten dogs strong. And, in the fashion of her mentor and friend Cesar Millan of the Dog Whisperer show, she trains these fearsome packs to follow calmly.

Lucas has come a long way since she founded her humane society. She has trained with the now world-famous Millan for more than ten years, learning to not only save the lives of dogs, but to rehabilitate them for long and fulfilled lives.

“It’s very fulfilling to be able to turn a dog around—especially one that has the possibility of losing its home because of bad behavior,” Lucas says. Now Millan’s most trusted protégé, Lucas is regularly invited to join him on his website training videos and his television show. 

Lucas emphasizes exercise and discipline before affection, and, works to correct human behavior as much as dog behavior. In Sweet’s words, “dogs just bite you,” it’s the humans who are the real obstacles. Though both are optimistic about the county’s dog population challenges strays, over-breeding, and irresponsible and misguided owners continue to keep both women very busy. They say more volunteers would have a great impact on their efforts. Their dog shelters, along with North County Humane Society, will benefit from the Pouring Wines for Canines & Felines event on Thursday, May 14, from 5 to 8 p.m at Shadow Canyon Cellars, 1255 Monterey St., SLO.
For more information, call 748-6358. Donations can be sent directly to Short ’n’ Sweet Dog Rescue, 5425 Jack Creek Road, Templeton 93465 (see; and to Second Chance at Love Humane Society, P.O. Box 396, Templeton 93465 (see

Fast facts
Meet San Luis Obispo County District 1 Supervisor Frank Mecham in the second of five meet-and-greet events sponsored by the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County (ECOSLO). He’ll be on hand from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 1, at 1204 Nipomo St. in SLO. For more information, call 544-1777. …

Get reacquainted with your favorite superheroes or introduce yourself to something new this weekend during the eighth annual Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 2. Captain Nemo Comics in SLO is one of the local comic shops participating in the national event and is offering a “Three for Free” deal. For more info, call Raymond Hanson at 544-6366. …

Food banks have reported more than a 40 percent increase in food requests this year. Take part in the nation’s largest single-day food drive: On Saturday, May 9, postal workers will be collecting food donations along their routes for the 17th Annual National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive. The carriers collected more than 70 million pounds of food in one day last year. Donating is easy—just leave nonperishable items in a bag by your mailbox and your mail carrier will do the rest.

Contributing writer Jamie Relth wrote the Strokes&Plugs feature this week.  Intern Matt Fountain compiled Fast facts.  Send your business and nonprofit news to [email protected].

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