For Otis Sake was founded in 2014 in honor of an amazing Chocolate Labrador named Otis. In 2006, Otis was diagnosed with Mega-esophagus (aka ME) and Laurie was told his onset was “idiopathic” meaning they were not able to pinpoint what triggered this horrible condition. All they knew was that his esophagus no longer could contract to move food to his stomach and he needed to eat vertically to survive. The diagnosis was filled with doom and gloom indicating he would likely live 6 months but it might be best to just “put him out of his misery.” The significant risk to ME dogs is Aspiration Pneumonia of which Otis suffered from about 7 times during his battle.
Regardless of this scary diagnosis; Otis and Laurie were NOT afraid and set out to determine how he could live a normal life and stay healthy.
Laurie found a wonderful Yahoo Group of pet owners dealing with ME dogs and thriving. From this group Laurie learned of the Bailey Chair which was designed for an ME dog and a lifesaver for Otis. A wonderful group member who had recently lost her dog to complications from ME donated her chair to Otis. Otis took to the chair immediately because he knew this is how he received his favorite thing, FOOD!
Unfortunately, the good times came crashing down in 2007 when his symptoms worsened and he was diagnosed with a far worse disease, Myasthenia Gravis. While initially it was thought that the onset was idiopathic (unknown causes) it was clear now that MG was the primary disease with Mega being a secondary problem (very common with MG). This diagnosis was scary to Laurie, as this disease negatively impacts neuromuscular transmission with potentially worse issues such as struggling with swallowing increasing his risk of aspiration pneumonia.
Laurie absorbed and rallied! She and Otis were not giving up without a fight! There was hope of remission and so they marched on. For the next 16 months they fought 5 more episodes of aspiration pneumonia and placement of a feeding tube to give Otis every chance to live. Boy did he LIVE! He had more great days than not so great days and he brought joy, love and life lessons to all he encountered. To say Otis was brave, fearless and resilient does not do him justice.
Otis changed the lives of many, making many believe in miracles. Laure said many times she felt she was a better person because she was blessed with Otis and this connection drives her passion to rescue. Otis lived 3 years and 4 months past his initial diagnosis (way past 6 months)! Never let anyone tell you a situation is HOPELESS! Otis and Laurie had a challenging journey together but many times Laurie said she would not change one moment nor sacrifice one second of their time together.
After losing her mother in June of 2008 and Otis just a few short months later, Laurie began focusing on acting as a benefactor for other rescues. Quickly she learned that there was a huge opportunity to improve the model many small rescues were using and improve the quality of life for the dogs brought in to rescue. The focus on high-kill rural animal control facilities is driven by the exposure to the neglect, abuse and suffering seen firsthand by Laurie. Sadly, many animal control facilities have little interest in the humane treatment of animals, lack the funds and support of local officials and simply cannot support the high volume of dogs found as strays, surrendered or simply abandoned to fend for themselves. This severe injustice is a core passion for Laurie and the rescue has not deviated from this mission. While it has grown and expanded to multiple states across the US, its focus remains with rural animal control facilities.
Laurie has a business background with her undergraduate in Business Management and a Master’s in Technology Management. It was vital to Laurie that For Otis Sake be a legitimate business so in 2014 she applied and received 501c3 non-profit status and incorporated For Otis Sake in Maryland. While founding the rescue and partnering with Kelly to manage the day-to-day operations she has a demanding career in Banking Technology. She attributes their continued success to the commitment, passion and family-focused team of volunteers and supporters.
Co-founder Kelly and Laurie have been friends for 13 years, supported each other through Otis’ battle and again when Kelly’s dog Hunter was diagnosed with Megaesophagus just a few short years after Otis had passed. There was simply no question who her partner would be in the rescue. Kelly and Laurie had many discussions about how they would rescue, what could be done better, what gaps needed filled. So when Laurie decided it was time to execute her dream, Kelly was right by her side. This time to help carry on the legacy of Otis and all he taught them. To save dogs that were thrown away, never given a chance and that would suffer in what many would deem a hopelessly overwhelming task of never leaving an animal behind. For Otis Sake - until they all have a home.
For Otis Sake is built on the same diligence, passion, drive and desire as the battle Laurie and Otis fought together. That passion and drive is the inspiration of For Otis Sake now targeted to rescue and save the lives of the abandoned, abused and neglected. We do this in memory of Otis as a legacy to life he lived and life taken too soon.