In the city of Houston, Texas, there is a remarkable organization with a mission that shines as a beacon of hope for stray dogs in the area - Lola's Lucky Day. Founded in January 2015 by Larissa Gavin, this heartwarming journey began with a simple desire: to change the lives of homeless dogs who had no other option.
Larissa Gavin: A Visionary with a Heart of Gold
Larissa Gavin's roots trace back to Wisconsin, a place where the issue of animal overpopulation differs dramatically from the dire situation in Houston. In Wisconsin, stray dogs were a rarity; however, in Texas, Larissa found herself in a world where dogs roamed the streets, abandoned and searching for scraps of kindness. In our conversation, she reflected, "Coming from Wisconsin, it was a complete opposite experience. In Houston, it's an everyday occurrence. There are parts of the city where dogs just roam around. There are people that feed them. The shelters are beyond full."
The contrast between Larissa's Wisconsin upbringing and the Houston reality was stark, but it was this contrast that fueled her determination to make a change. She embarked on a mission to build an organization that could offer these animals a lifeline to a brighter future.
The Birth of Hope
Lola's Lucky Day began as a passionate response to the plight of homeless animals in Houston. Larissa's vision was clear - she wanted to create an organization that could provide hope and a future for these dogs. To achieve this, she started networking and building partnerships with rescue groups and shelters back in Wisconsin. "At that moment, I was like, we need to do something about this. We started networking, and I contacted anybody that would listen to me to see who would take in a fully vetted dog."
The Road to Rescue
In the beginning, the Road to Rescue was windy, long, and often unknown. Larissa acknowledges that the initial days of Lola's Lucky Day were not without challenges. She recalls, "We had no idea what we were doing." And further notes, “There's not like a school to go to for learning how to rescue dogs and transport them, which was kind of a newer thing. It was a lot of learning – what to do, what not to do." She gave much credit to her husband and Treasurer of LLD, Mark, for supporting her: “I have an amazing husband who has been so supportive and really has stood by me since I started this crazy idea. I'd come home from work, and I would have like ten puppies. And he still stayed married to me!”
Mark further elaborated as he smiled thinking of the early years and the many unknown aspects of the endeavor, "We would load up a rented SUV from Houston at our house. And we're kind of like, how many can fit in this SUV that we picked up 30 minutes ago? We would drive straight through, and we would get there Sunday morning." Of course, after adopting out the dogs to loving families in Wisconsin, the couple would jump on a plane back to Houston and be back at their “day” jobs Monday Morning.
Meet Lola, the Inspiration and the Catalyst
Lola, the namesake of the organization, was one of the first dogs rescued and one Lucky pup that helped drive the early growth of the organization. In a conversation with her boss in 2014 at her corporate job, it came up that his family was looking to adopt another puppy. In response, Larissa said under her breath, “oh, I have like eight at my house.” That next weekend 4 bathed and extra cute puppies were brought to the exceptional residence of her Boss. As Larissa was getting them ready, she recalled thinking, “whoever gets this gig, it's going to be your lucky day.” Lola was the dog selected that day, and indeed, it was her Lucky Day. She now lives a life filled with love and care, serving as a heartwarming reminder that every rescue is indeed a "lucky day" for these dogs.
After the adoption of Lola, Larissa's determination took a significant step forward when her boss offered a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $20,000, to help her launch Lola's Lucky Day as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This generous gesture provided the initial foundation needed to expand their rescue efforts and eventually purchase their first transport vehicle. “It really just took like one person believing in me that I could do it, and it took off from there."
Fast forward to 2023, and Lola's Lucky Day has come a long way. Larissa and her team now possess two transport vehicles and a well-organized system for each rescued dog. The journey from self-funding to an established rescue organization has made them grateful for what they have achieved. They also were adamant about the fact they did not do it alone and relied heavily on an amazing team of volunteers. Larissa emphasizes, "It's really come full circle now. We have an amazing team, and I really cannot stress how important that is because I'm not doing it alone. We have amazing people helping." She believes in treating everyone on the team equally, encouraging open communication, and embracing suggestions for improvement.
Additionally, a major focus essential to the success of their mission is to drive collaboration with other rescue groups and organizations. Their approach is to work together, as they all share the common goal of saving animals.
How You Can Help
When asked about funding, Larissa mentioned that Lola's Lucky Day relies on a multitude of small donations. These contributions, whether large or small, come together to make a significant impact. She highlighted the importance of monthly donors, explaining how it helps with budgeting and planning.
Supporting Lola's Lucky Day is as easy as a few clicks. Consider becoming a monthly donor or making a one-time contribution. Every dollar counts and goes toward the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of dogs in need. Visit their website to learn more about their mission and discover ways you can get involved.
Lola's Lucky Day has come a long way since its inception, and the journey is far from over. Lola's Lucky Day is more than a rescue organization; it's a testament to the transformative power of compassion and action. Larissa Gavin's unwavering dedication, supported by an incredible team and community, has transformed the lives of thousands of dogs. With each rescue, they bring hope, happiness, and a second chance to those who need it most.
To support Lola's Lucky Day and learn more about their mission, please visit their website LolasLuckyDay.com where you can adopt a furry friend or contribute to their life-saving work.
PACKT is proud to be committing 5% of our sales to Lola's Lucky Day through December 31, 2023.
Interested in listening or watching the great conversation we had with Larissa and Mark Gavin? Click below!