Emergency and trauma services director with his fosters dogs

Carrying His Weight in Saving the Lives of Shelter Dogs

Monday, September 30, 2019 |
Three years ago when the son of Bayhealth Emergency and Trauma Services Director Gust Bages, RN, BSN, MHA, volunteered to work with puppies for a senior project, Bages had no idea it would change their lives. The family quickly applied to foster animals and since then has saved the lives of 60 dogs.

Bages and his family works with nonprofit Wags Rescue, which rescues dogs from kill shelters in Georgia and the Carolinas. The nonprofit links shelter dogs with foster families, who then care for the animals until they’re ready for adoption events; the events are held every Sunday.

Quite often Bages and his family take in pregnant dogs, and care for both the mom and puppies until the puppies are ready for adoption at eight weeks old. Sometimes they’ll only have a dog for a few days, getting them on Wednesdays after the dogs have been transported from the South, and then say goodbye at the Sunday adoption events. Right now Bages is only caring for senior dogs until the rest of his family moves from New Jersey to Delaware; he joined Bayhealth in late 2018. “This started as a family project and it remains a family project; we’re all involved,” Bages said.

While they’ve helped 60-plus dogs find loving homes, the Bages family adopted three of their foster dogs; this is known as a “foster fail.” Ria was pregnant and deaf when they brought her home; she regained her hearing after her puppies were born. Then there was Tori, a feral dog who never made it to the adoption events because of severe anxiety; sadly, Tori passed away. Finally, there’s George; within 30 minutes of picking up the Great Dane/Bulldog mix, Bages knew the dog was meant to be a part of the family.

“Doing this brings a lot of happiness to our family and home,” Bages said. “Fostering is hard work, but it feels good to save an animal’s life. We’re saving one dog at a time and that’s all that matters.”

If you'd like to follow the story of George with the occasional appearance of Bages and Ria, check out their "Oh George" Facebook page, which gives people insight into George's life as a rescue dog.