There are no kennels or cages in this house. People are sparse, too.
Indeed, when speaking with husbands Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, both 69, it’s clear almost immediately: the majority of their home’s occupants are being kept quiet so they can complete our conversation with minimal interference.
“We’re lucky the dogs are cooperating,” Danta said. “At the end of the day, it’s really their house. We’re just living in it.”
It’s not an exaggeration.
The men have 172 dogs presently, all of whom roam free in the 4200 sq. foot Camden, SC home which doubles as the headquarters of their rescue and adoption organization, Danny and Ron’s Rescue.
Started in 2005, the strictly nonprofit (and non-kill) organization distinguishes itself from other similar outfits by not just finding homes for its furry, four-legged patrons, but by providing a home until their adoptions happen.
The guiding philosophy, according to Danny and Ron’s website, is simple: “The opportunity to live with humans and other dogs in a real home environment is the best way to prepare a dog for adoption and a life with a loving family.”
It also works, if the numbers are any indication:
The organization just celebrated its 14,000th adoption, and this in spite of the fact that they don’t exactly deal in the cutesy little Fidos that many would classify as their dream companions.
On the contrary, as Robertshaw explained, “The ones that kiss and jump, those are the ones that get adopted from shelters. The ones that are petrified sitting in the back and want nothing to do with anyone, those are the ones we go after.”
It’s yet another distinctive quality of Danny and Ron’s Rescue: whether it’s medical issues, abandonment, neglect, or outright condemnation (yes, like to death), theirs are the dogs you only see in the PETA commercials for the split second before you turn your head to stop from bawling.
The ones who good things never happen to.
Until they do.
Born From Devastation
The beginnings of the rescue date back nearly two decades, according to its website. Hurricane Katrina had just ravaged Louisiana, and left hundreds of thousands of people — and their pets — without homes.
Danny and Ron, together for nearly 30 years as partners (they wed in 2011) were just two guys then — horse trainers, to be specific, and mutual lovers of animals.
They couldn’t bear the devastation they’d witnessed, the dogs left destitute, many without owners, let alone places to plant their paws.
And so they took action.
“We rescued 600 dogs,” Robertshaw said, in the wake of Katrina. “And we weren’t even a nonprofit yet.”
But they became one quickly. And kept at it.
A deep freeze in Texas where, as Robertshaw said, “pipes were breaking and people didn’t have electricity”; wildfires in California; another hurricane in Puerto Rico — after all of them, Danny and Ron were there, boots laced, hard hats in tow, ready to rescue as many of the man’s best friends as they could accommodate.
They’ve swooped in to rescue dogs from puppy mills, dog fights, and kill shelters; from junkyards and bondage and cages so small they couldn’t scratch their ears.
And this is just some of their story.
In addition to their rescue operation, Danny and Ron have donated significant amounts of money to animal shelters nationwide, and helped those in need to feed their pets.
During COVID alone, they distributed 140,000 pounds of dog food from what Danta jokingly likened to a “sweatshop operation” out of their garage.
“We saw all these people in lines with no food and water, and we thought, God, what could be happening to their pets?” Danta said of the impetus for the operation.
All this, and they’ve managed international work, too:
When migrants were surging at the Ukrainian and Romanian borders, Danny and Ron were there with dog food and donations.
Fires in Australia: it was Danny and Ron who brought in some of the dogs who helped with the rescue operations.
Dogs in Aruba needed spaying and neutering.
You guessed it.
Danny and Ron were there, too.
Living Their Dream
To be fair, juggling a constant flow of projects, many of which are built on tragedy, is no easy task. But Danta and Robertshaw do not seem the least bit fatigued or overwhelmed during our conversation.
Rather, they are chatty and vivacious. Danta, clearly the designated spokesperson, and the tallest of the impeccably bronzed duo by a head (if pictures are any indication; the conversation is over the phone), is polished on facts and quick to the punch: at the start of the discussion, he spells out his and Robertshaw’s names without being prompted.
Robertshaw, on the other hand, is softer in tone, the reflective counter to Danta’s more empirical approach to interviewing. Both men laugh regularly, and convey a warmth and geniality that makes it easy to imagine they’re sitting in their living room (surrounded by furry companions, of course), sharing a cup of coffee on an easy Sunday morning.
Then, perhaps the men are drinking coffee — or at the very least would welcome from such an opportunity:
“We don’t get a lot of sleep,” Danta said, of how he and Robertshaw manage such an action-packed schedule.
They do have help, though.
A staff of 33 is on hand to assist them in their efforts at the “dog house” in Camden – as well as at a second house, also owned by Danta and Robertshaw, a couple miles up the road. It houses several larger rescue dogs in addition to horses, cows, chickens, and an African Zebu named Zena.
“We got a call from Animal Control that said it was bleeding and couldn’t get up,” Danta said of the Zebu, a species of cattle common to Africa. How exactly it got to the states is unknown to both men, but Danta said that once it arose and “came out of shock,” there was nowhere for it to go, and no owner to claim it.
“So they called us,” Danta said. “Animal Control knows us very well. Too well.”
When they’re not managing their homes in South Carolina, Danta and Robertshaw own a third home in Wellington, FL, where they train and show horses.
More than a side-note, it’s actually how the pair make a living (and how they met): Robertshaw was a horse-trainer and rode professionally as a hunter/jumper rider for years. Danta was a coach and trainer.
Today, it’s this very operation, in addition to private donations, which help fund their rescue. Staff stay back in South Carolina while the men work in Wellington from November to April — and even then, Danta and Robertshaw find a way to incorporate their rescue efforts into their daily routines: in between training and showing horses, they show their dogs to potential adopters. (Staff transport the dogs on buses in weekly batches from South Carolina.)
In all, Danta estimates that Danny and Ron’s Rescue facilitates 350–500 adoptions per year in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
To name just a few of the locations where they’ve left their marks.
For Life, For Love
Far from a sign-and-drive operation, adoption with Danny and Ron’s Rescue is a process which involves at least some measure of red tape.
It’s all part of the “For Life Guarantee” that the men extend as protection — less so to the dogs’ new owners, than to the dogs themselves:
“We do background checks before we adopt and we don’t allow people to give our dogs away or put them in a shelter,” Robertshaw explained. “It’s our promise to the animals. For whatever reason, if something happens where the dog is not wanted or can’t be taken care of properly, they come back to us. We give our dogs a forever home, no matter what.”
Veterinary examinations, vaccinations, microchipping, grooming — all are a part of the adoption process, and are bankrolled by Danta and Robertshaw using funds from the organization.
Adopters pay nothing except what they can “afford,” a fact which further separates Danny and Ron’s Rescue from similar organizations in that most charge pre-set adoption fees.
Call it further reflection of who Danta and Robertshaw are as people.
“If you give, it makes you a lot richer inside,” Robertshaw explained.
It was somewhere near the end of the discussion, and brought a hint of finality to the whole affair.
It offered perspective, too, on these men, what has driven them in their extraordinary feats of altruism. Monetary compensation, recognition – they’ve never sought either in their charitable pursuits.
Even regarding other areas of their lives, they had to be pushed to recall the breadth of their accomplishments:
“Gosh, it’s been forever,” was Danta’s response when asked how long he and Robertshaw had been together. Robertshaw had to think about it, too.
All of which is to say, these are not men who’ve kept a tally of their deeds. Instead, they’ve endeavored simply to give of themselves — to their dogs (and other rescues), to those who wish to adopt, and to fellow pet owners worldwide.
And in so doing, they’ve become perhaps the richest men alive – in love.
In addition to their rescue, Robertshaw and Danta have released four children’s books, a memoir and a Netflix documentary. The latter, “Life in the Dog House,” is now on Amazon Prime and has received 3.5 million views.
For more information on Robertshaw and Danta’s rescue or to give a donation, visit: www.dannyronsrescue.org.