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About Us 

PARTNERS! Canines Hopes to End the Euthanasia of Adoptable Dogs and Puppies in NC!


Intake Numbers of Dogs and Puppies in rural Southern shelters is extremely high. Many times puppies and highly adoptable dogs are being euthanized due to lack of space. We hope to help shelters change their intake policies, promote spay/neuter in communities and find ways to rescue the majority of adoptable dogs and puppies in high kill shelters.


Once a canine training and behavior counseling business, PARTNERS! Canines became a registered 501c3 non-profit organization in 2007 in order to continue to grow our shelter canine transport and rescue efforts throughout North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.


All proceeds raised through our fundraising efforts go toward transferring great (friendly, healthy, non-aggressive) but unadopted dogs and puppies from shelters in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to other states and national “no kill” facilities and rescue organizations where they are held until they are adopted. Most of these dogs and puppies are adopted in days.


The donations and contributions we receive allow us to cover medical, vet, food, shelter (while awaiting transport) and transport expenses  to save hundreds of precious lives every year, providing a chance at a new life for our rescued dogs and puppies!


If you would like to contribute to our rescue efforts or receive information about our transports please email us at





Our Founder, Melissa Bahleda, received her certification in Canine Training and Behavior Counseling from the Animal Behavior Center of New York and was finally able to combine her Master’s Degree in Education with her love for dogs and her desire to help those in need. She volunteered and worked for several shelters during this time and began teaching workshops. Once she completed her certification she started up her own training business and taught classes at local VA animal shelters and donated the proceeds.



PARTNERS! began the process of becoming a non-profit organization in order to expand our transport and rescue efforts throughout Virginia and North Carolina.



With Melissa’s help she successfully launched spay/neuter clinics in VA and was able to drastically reduce euthanasia numbers in participating shelters.


PARTNERS! worked with North Shore Animal League regularly and helped them rescue over 1,000 dogs per year allowing Melissa to transfer in highly adoptable dogs and puppies every month.


Partners! became an official 501c3 non-profit organization.



Melissa and her husband Tom moved to Boone, NC. Tom and Melissa had lived in Boone as newlyweds throughout their college years and had always loved the area. As soon as they moved Melissa was able to begin doing transports in the High Country as and began a wonderful partnership with local shelters and Jessica Bryant a local volunteer, became our President.  Jessica was responsible for developing and expanding our transport program.



PARTNERS! Canines began a transport program called the NC Muttigree Express with rescue partner North Shore Animal League. NSAL agreed to begin sending their mobile rescue unit down to help with overpopulation issues in the region.


In 2013 Jessica and Melissa were able to rescue over 2,000 dogs and puppies in the area!


PARTNERS! welcomes Dr. Patrice Covington with Mitchell Mill Animal Hospital Rescue in Raleigh NC into the program as medical director.


The NSAL rescue unit has now began coming to pick up dogs and puppies from our program in Raleigh NC

In February 2014 PARTNERS! received confirmation that NSAL will continue to award funds to allow us to rescue more dogs and puppies from the High Country region. We hope to have another successful year rescuing thousands that would otherwise be euthanized!



Dr. Eva Hyatt became the Executive Director.


With the help of all our PARTNERS, volunteers, and donors we saved over 2500 dogs and puppies from euthanasia this year!


Continued success with saving another 1047  dogs from high-kill shelters in Northwestern North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia. That number includes large breeds, older, needing medical care or handicapped.



Thanks to a grant from the ASPCA we purchased a new transport-ready, two-zoned air conditioned/heated Dodge Ram van.  Also in 2017 we already have achieved saving over 12,000 dogs in the 10 years since Partners! has existed.

We began our year continuing our transports with the ASPCA through their Nancy Silverman Rescue Ride Program. However, by June we had lost our overnighting location so we worked hard to reorganize and start transports solely on our own with our Dodge Promaster Van. We struggled at first finding destination shelters but by September, not only did we get back on track with 2-3 transports per month but ended the year saving over 1000 animals through traditional transports, supported the rescue of 174 dogs in rural Georgia and even helped with rescue efforts in hurricane ravaged Eastern North Carolina.
We developed direct relationships with our destination shelter partners including Providence Animal Center in Media, PA, Augusta SPCA in Staunton, VA and Brandywine Valley SPCA serving DE/PA. Partners! won the High Country Best of the Best Non-Profit of the YEAR! 
Partners! was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic  (March through December) but was still able to rescue over 596 dogs and puppies.
Stay tuned for more exciting news about PARTNERS! work and achievements!
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