Ashley Scire can’t remember a time when she didn’t love dogs.
As a child with her Disney Fairies vet kit in tow, she pretended to be the veterinarian for her stuffed animals. That passion has never wavered. These days, the 15-year-old Windermere High School junior shows her love for dogs through her family’s dog rescue organization, Creegan Canine Rescue.
And most recently, Scire’s dedication to man’s best friend earned her the President’s Volunteer Service Award, for which she received certificates and a medal from the White House.
“It was cool to be honored,” Scire said. “Not every day that you receive stuff like that from the White House, so it was pretty cool.”
HEART IS AT THE START
Scire’s love for dogs runs in the family.
“I have three vets in my family, so I got to see their offices and use their stethoscopes,” she said. “I’d help over the summer, and I used to play every game imaginable that had to do with animals.”
Scire and her family started Creegan Canine Rescue in 2013. Based in Windermere, CCR is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing dogs and finding homes for them. The organization is run by Scire and her parents, Melissa and Justin.
The name Creegan comes from the Irish word for “heart,” but it also is a symbol for what the Scires want the rescue to be about.
“Heart is at the start of what we do for dogs in need,” Scire said.
The rescue was the dream of her grandmother, Diane Mary Creegan, who loved animals — dogs especially — and the family was more than happy to start the rescue by naming it after her. Since they began, CCR has rescued thousands of dogs and given them to good homes. They have rescued more than 100 dogs in 2021 alone.
Days are long, and the Scires rarely get time for themselves. During the pandemic, they averaged receiving between 25 and 40 calls per day about cases involving dogs due to many being given up and shelters being at capacity. Some of these calls occur at three in the morning. Even so, they say they would not trade it for anything.
“If we don’t do it, who will?” Ashley Scire said. “It’s our job to answer that call and be there for dogs when other people can’t always be there for them. It feels good to do it and also know that you’re helping animals in the process.”
“They somehow know that they have been saved,” Melissa Scire said. “They know you are the good people who have given them a better life. You see it in the way they behave, how they smile. They’re different dogs. You see this dog that’s in this horrible situation, and then you see this happy, smily face that wants to give you kisses.”
The Scires say their rescue differs from others, because it specializes in cases many others won’t take.
One special case occurred in October 2020 when Boo-Boo, a black lab mix, appeared at their door. She suffered from hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid in the brain. It can be fatal if left untreated. In Boo-Boo’s case, her eyes were spread farther apart than a normal dog.
“She was an owner surrender to a vet,” Ashley Scire said. “We had her ever since she was a little thing that you could hold in your hand up until my knee. I had contacted a local station to give her the spotlight on her.”
Ashley Scire arranged everything all by herself to give Boo-Boo a spotlight. Her mother had no idea about it until she received a call asking about Boo-Boo.
“I just went ‘Hello?’” Melissa Scire said. “I didn’t even know what was going on. They said, ‘We got a call from Ashley,’ and I said, ‘My daughter?’ I thought she was in trouble, but they said they wanted to meet Boo-Boo and wanted to do a story on her.”
Boo-Boo eventually got adopted as a result of that.
That wasn’t the only time Creegan Canine Rescue earned the spotlight. Because of their partnership with Rescue Flights Orlando, the rescue had pilots fly to Alabama earlier this year to pick up a collection of dogs to bring over. One video of these “puppy flights” as they call them, garnered more than 10 million views on Tik Tok and was picked up by “ABC World News Tonight.”
“We get the greatest, sweet puppies out of it, and they get great lives,” Melissa Scire said. “It’s a great system.”
The attention is great, but the Scires primary use for the notoriety is for help with donations to provide all the essential needs for the dogs they take in. Eventually, they would like to buy their own mobile adoption vehicle.