About Us

Mission Statement

The mission of Cayuga Dog Rescue (CDR) is to rescue stray, abandoned, neglected, and abused dogs as well as dogs that are deteriorating in regional shelters or are scheduled for euthanasia due to shelter overcrowding.

What We Do

We place rescued dogs into foster homes where they receive needed veterinary care, and emotional, physical, and social rehabilitation on their way to carefully screened permanent adoptive homes.

We provide ongoing consultation and support to foster homes and permanent adopters for the life of the rescued dog. We promote compassionate dog guardianship through our public education efforts.

Who We Are


Susan is the director and co-founder of Cayuga Dog Rescue. She has been a dog-lover since childhood. In 1993, she rescued and adopted her first dog from a decrepit shelter on Long Island. That beautiful, soulful Shepherd/Akita (and her dog-loving husband) awakened a relentlessly wonderful dog obsession in her that she has been nurturing ever since. She fostered for her local SPCA, as well as fostered, volunteered, and served on the Board of a regional nonprofit dog rescue organization. In July of 2005, she and Melissa formed Cayuga Dog Rescue to more effectively continue their dog rescue efforts. Almost nothing makes Susan happier than finding a loving, stable, caring home for a CDR gorgeous rescue dog.


Melissa is the co-founder of Cayuga Dog Rescue. She came by her dog passion naturally, as her father raised English Setters during her childhood. Smitten with an enduring love and appreciation for all things furry, she has spent the majority of her adult life rescuing, rehabilitating, and educating people about dogs. During this time, she has fostered over 85 dogs and puppies, has interned with and served on the Board of a regional dog rescue organization, and is a member of Cornell Companions Pet Therapy Program and the Ithaca Dog Training Club. Her permanent home pack includes Jarvis, Jonah, Orion, Myrtle, Tobias, Giacomo, Zen, Skeet and Trill who fill her heart with love, endlessly make her laugh, and keep her continually vacuuming!

Melissa very actively co-directed CDR until 2009, at which time life took her in other directions. She is no longer associated with CDR, but continues to care for her large home pack of dogs and to long-term foster several hard-to-place Beagles.


Sharon is the assistant director of Cayuga Dog Rescue. She grew up with dogs and absolutely adores them. While living in Florida she adopted her first dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix named Lucie, from a shelter in Clearwater. Lucie was Sharon’s constant companion and dog soul mate and fueled her interest in working with a rescue to help other abandoned or mistreated dogs. Lucie had not been well socialized in her previous life so bringing foster dogs into her home was not really an option (but has since learned that it could have been done!).

In 2009, shortly after moving back to her home state of NY, Lucie passed away. Once she recovered from the loss, she decided in Lucie’s memory she would work with a dog rescue like she had always wanted. Thus began her search for a good local rescue to work with……then she found CDR and Susan!!

In addition to Sharon’s love for the Ridgeback breed she has now been totally smitten by the Great Pyrenees breed. They are a loyal, loving, fabulous and funny dog. They have become her favorite breed to foster and own :). You can find her happily living in the country, in a ramshackle house with her current home pack of 3, 2 cardigan corgi’s and a Great Pyrenees (former foster) and inevitably a foster waiting for a home, usually a Great Pyr. Sharon has found it amazing that CDR is able to find so many crazy (totally meant in a good way) dog people to adopt these wonderful rescue dogs. She is living her dream of helping these dogs who have no voice and thinks it is a wonderful and rewarding place to be!


Mike is the web maintenence man. It’s hard for some of us to believe that web coding is an enjoyable hobby.


Elizabeth is the social media nerd on our team. She got involved with dog rescue to honor the passing of her best (canine) friend of 13 years, and now helps out with fostering and helping keep other fosters organized. By day a graduate student at Cornell, by night she is the voice behind our Facebook page. She is also in the “foster failure” club, having adopted the very charming Sidney from us in 2014!

Board of Directors

Cayuga Dog Rescue is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our Board of Directors includes:

  • Susan Wiser, Ph.D.
  • Chrstine Armao, D.V.M.
  • Rob Costello, M.F.A.
  • Sharon Bachner, RN, CCM, CMCN, CHCQM

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