Chatting With Animal Rescuer Shannon Hottes
At Kinds of Grace we love speaking with women who inspire us. Women who have a great sense of style, but also of morality.
Shannon Hottes is the founder of the Hottes Foundation, which she runs with an all women team. The Hottes Foundation aims to educate people about animals and their care, while rescuing and rehoming them. Shannon and her team rescue and re-home many dogs, including dogs with disabilities, or that are sometimes considered 'aggressive' - knowing that all these animals deserve love and safety. The Foundation also has assisted with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and supports environmental protection initiatives. Shannon is pictured above with her rescued family member, Whinny.
Two rescued golden retriever puppies. A puppy breeder was going to have them be killed (put down at a vet) because they are blind, and they wouldn't have been able to sell the puppies for a good profit.
What’s the Hottes Foundation, and what inspired you to start it?
The Hottes Foundation is an animal rescue and conservation group. It's founded by myself and working with a team of dedicated women including two co-founders. I’ve been working with animals for almost 5 years now, previously I was an independent rescuer working with other organisations to save and rehome puppies that had no mothers.
The reasons they had no mothers was due to either the litter being rejected or the litter being abandoned without their mama. I would be given the puppies to raise by bottle feeding, teaching them to wean and preparing them for their furever families at 8 weeks old. Some litters I would get as early as one day old.
This is how I got my dog Hug, she was part of an abandoned litter of 5 puppies, 3 days old. After my experiences with puppies I knew that this was my passion and knew that there were hundreds if not thousands of dogs out there needing homes like the puppies I was raising.
I founded The Hottes Rescue (self titled) in 2017 and just worked solo one litter at a time until I met my co-founders in 2019 and rebranded into The Hottes Foundation. Now we have our core efforts of rescuing abused, neglected and animals on deathrow but also have a passion for working alongside other organisations who are actively saving animals and our planet. I believe that to really make a difference in this world we must work together!
Shannon and rescued dog Hug.
How many dogs have you helped re-home? Is there a particular rescue story that is dearest to you?
Oh wow! Well over 100 now I think! I really should keep count but I have never thought to do so. All my rescues are so unique, just like humans they are all individuals with personal individual stories.
Hug is always one of my favourites to tell people because it was such a personal time that really changed my life and cemented my passion for rescue. Hug and her litter of sisters came to me at 3 days old, no mama and nowhere safe to go. I had to bottle feed the babies every 2 hours, 24/7 for the first week. When they are this young they also can’t toilet themselves so I had to toilet them by rubbing their little bellies with a soft wet cloth to stimulate them to go.
Between 3-4 weeks old is when I had to wean them onto solids but prior to this I was bottle feeding and toileting all day everyday. I had this litter for 8 weeks and it was the most transformative 8 weeks of my life at that point. I was going through a bad domestic violent breakup so I was doing all this while sleeping on my couch. To some that might sound insane but for me it was my escape, caring for these innocent tiny lives gave me purpose and so much love and joy. It truly got me through everything. From then I knew that rescue was what I needed to do, I knew that this was my purpose on this earth.
What can you tell us about pitbulls and other dogs with reputations for being aggressive?
I love pitbulls! They are truly one of my favourite breeds. Any bully breed is just beautiful in my eyes. I grew up with Staffordshire bull terriers, and have had many staffs over my life span with my family and on my own.
The saying “there aren’t any bad dogs, just bad owners” is so true! Pitbulls are big, solid, muscly, sometimes mean looking marshmallows. They have been historically designed to take down large animals, they have been bred with high pain tolerance and a strong work ethic but a pitbull still needs to be taught how to fight, how to be aggressive and so on. These are all learned behaviours. This also doesn’t mean that if you have a dog and never showed them aggression that they won’t have moments. Any dog can become uncomfortable enough for their fight system to engage, this goes for all dogs, not just pitbulls.
For any dog with or without reputations, proper socialisation from a young age is always needed. Socialising them slowly, with all types of breeds and sizes is essential. Also good amounts of exercise is essential, having the energy outlet is positive for all dogs and their mental stimulation.
Something else is see a lot of is people not researching their puppies breeds before getting them. I always ask my adoption applicants to research the breed they are applying for before we go ahead with the adoption process. This gives a clear indication if the breed is 100% suited to your lifestyle and further research ensures that all owners understand that their dog may be friendly at 6 months old but may all of a sudden show signs of intolerance towards other dogs 2 years old due to this time being the last inset of maturity. Knowledge is always power in all things but specially when bringing any breed of pooch into you family.
Tell us about your efforts as a rainforest ambassador?
Being an ambassador for the Earth is one of my greatest achievements! I am an ambassador for our rainforests with the amazing organisation called HalfCut. I have been with this team for over a year now and in this year HalfCut has raised $356,205 and protected 142,482m of land in the Daintree rainforest by planting trees and building precious new land and ecosystem protections and facilities for our wildlife including the endangered species, the Cassowary which is mostly only found in the far north Queensland region.
I am forever in awe of the incredible founders, Jimmy and Jess. HalfCut represents the deforestation percentage of our world. 50% of our worlds natural forests have been destroyed. Jimmy and Jess are fundraising wizards with the aim to save our planet from the climate crisis and being a part of this team is definitely something I am extremely proud of!
What inspired you to live vegan?
7 years ago I decided to go vegan, I did it in one day and it was such an easy transition for me. I was never a huge meat eater anyway but what secured my decision was seeing abuse with my own eyes. A friend put me onto Gary Yourofsky, it was a YouTube video of a speech he gave and it changed my life, not only did I not really like meat but then I had this huge amount of knowledge dumped on me and an urge to research and see it for myself.
It’s always a delicate subject and I respect that we all come from a long line of human conditioning that some may find scary to break away from, but the knowledge and evidence is so clear that once you see it, you can't unseen it.
Animal rescue also dug me deeper into my veganism, it doesn’t make sense in my mind that some people can rescue a dog but still eat a pig. I’ve worked with farmed animals a lot over the years and one thing that always stands out to me is that there is no difference when I look into their eyes, I still see a soul inside a living breathing being that loves, and feels pain and fear. They want to live as much as we do, and they communicate as much as well do too, you just have to listen a little differently.
What Kinds of Grace bag do you have, and why did you choose that one?
I have the Bravia Onyx Handbag and Wallet. I love this bag! It’s my absolute favourite vegan buy! It’s classy and stylish and looks way better than any designer animal skin bag I’ve ever seen! I’ve had this bag for some time now and use it everyday, it still looks brand new. I haven’t had any issues and it hasn’t broken, which is great for me because I’m always breaking bags, haha! It’s an all around beautiful bag that can be used for any occasion.