It all started with Hope.

In January 2010, Azure Davis was a 23-year-old studying business at a local university when she saw a dog named Hope living in a shelter in Ohio. Hope, a pitbull mix, was heartworm positive, extremely emaciated, and nearly out of time. Feeling a tug in her heart, Davis knew she needed to act quickly to save Hope’s life.

Davis told the Ohio-based shelter that she would take Hope in as part of a newly developed rescue in Central Minnesota. She then contacted Pilots N Paws, first arranging ground transportation from Ohio to Illinois and then air transportation from Illinois to the Princeton, MN airport. Once the plane touched the ground, Ruff Start Rescue had officially taken in its first rescue dog.

Despite her condition, Hope arrived in Minnesota in good spirits. She was placed immediately in with a foster family who showered her with the love and attention she needed to heal. After watching her miraculous transformation, her foster family decided she was already home and adopted her shortly after she became healthy. 

Hope was the first companion animal saved by Ruff Start Rescue, inspiring the rescue of over 22,000 animals since she touched down in Minnesota in 2010. The rescue also provided a gateway to a career for Davis, who still acts as the rescue’s Founder and Executive Director. Under her exhilarating leadership, Ruff Start has emerged as a figurehead of the Central Minnesota animal welfare community and has served as the Princeton area’s sole non-profit 501c3 animal rescue organization since July 2010.

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Since its inception, Ruff Start has made large strides as the sole resource for animal welfare and rescue in its hometown of Princeton, MN. The rescue quickly outgrew its primary residence – a small office space in downtown Princeton – and decided it was time to move on to bigger and better things to better accommodate its volunteers, fosters, and staff members.

In 2018, we made the leap by purchasing a 5,400 sq. ft. facility. This facility has become our new home over the last several years, housing a veterinary suite, onsite grooming station, storage for foster animal supplies, and adequate office space for staff. Learn more about our current facility.

Ruff Start Rescue