Before founding Bichons and Buddies, Jeanine Curcione served as the Southern California Coordinator for Small Paws Rescue, the nation's largest Bichon rescue organization. She entered the world of animal rescuing after hearing of a Bichon that had been thrown from a car into the park she took her own dogs to daily. Uncertain of the dog's fate, she visited the city shelter he had been taken to, and decided to adopt him with the intention of finding him a permanent home. It was at that point that Curcione met a woman from Small Paws Rescue who at that time held the position she would eventually take over. Curcione admits, "I never even knew a Bichon rescue existed, nor could I imagine the need for one. Thus began my long and wonderful service for an incredible nationwide organization devoted to closing down puppy mills."
After working for Small Paws for five years, Curcione dcided to branch out in 2004 and create a local breed rescue group. She opened her own non-profit and now runs the organization with the help of a few volunteers while working full-time as a court reporter. Despite the demands of running Bichons and Buddies, Curcione is not daunted by the task of rescuing animals with little outside help while maintaining a day job. "While I have never had the luxury of having a lot of foster homes and had to rely on sub-par boarding facilities," she admits, "I just celebrated my one year anniversary at a doggie day care/boarding facility called Wags 2 Whiskers in Culver City where I lease space in a cage free environment to house my dogs." She concedes that the boarding facility is costly, but the fact that all the dogs are together allows her to place them in homes more quickly.
Bichons and Buddies also works to help alleviate the problem of animal overpopulation by working with other organizations outside of LA. Curcione says, "my goal has always been and always will be to save as many dogs as possible" and hopes that by "networking with other rescuers throughout the community," organizations will be able to "streamline our efforts and conserve valuable resources." Curcione has established relationships with two reputable animal rescues in Canada and one in Washington state in hopes of providing these rescues with animals from LA's overcrowded shelters. "Over the last year and a half I've sent almost 300 dogs outside of California and given them a chance I never could have here. It's an incredibly rewarding experience to receive countless e-mail updates and pictures from the happy homes they get adopted to through my wonderful, dedicated rescue affiliates."
Ultimately, Curcione hopes to continue her work in order to save as many Bichons--and other breeds--as possible. She remarks, "the combination of my local adoptions in addition to my transports has enabled me to increase the number of precious souls saved, which is in the end what it's all about--for me." To see photos of available dogs through Bichons and Buddies, check out the slideshow above.