It all started with a little black dog. After being abandoned at the intersection of Highway 169 and I-80, the dog that would come to be known as Grace endured rough Iowa weather, limited food and little to no shelter while Amy Heinz raced against time in order to bring her to a safe, good home.

“We brought her home, fed her, and gave her lots of water. I made a bed for us on the floor of my laundry room and as soon as I laid down, she snuggled right under my arm and slept soundly,” Heinz said. “My veterinarian opens at 7:30 and I wanted to get her medical attention as soon as possible. On the way home, I drove past a sign for Grace Church, which made me think of how God’s grace was in this adventure in so many ways. That’s why I knew her name should be Grace.”

It was this story of Grace that would ultimately serve as the inspiration for the creation of AHeinz57, a non-profit and foster-based animal rescue organization headquartered in DeSoto, Iowa.

“Grace was my little treasure and inspired so much good in this world for other homeless dogs. She completely changed my world and I will be forever grateful that she was in my life,” Heinz said.

Now, today, after nearly a decade of operating, AHeinz57 strives to bridge the gap between traditional animal shelters and no kill rescues. This ranges from removing and transporting dogs from traditional shelters before they are euthanized to offering a temporary foster-based housing program for homeless dogs.

AHeinz57 also participates in unique programs, such as this year’s Puppy Bowl XIII, as a way to bring awareness to their important cause. A program hosted by the Animal Planet, the Puppy Bowl features rescue dogs in a game of football between team Ruff and team Fluff. This past year, AHeinz57 drove four of their puppies to NYC in October 2016 for the filming of the event.

“Bismark, a blue tick coonhound, came from a shelter in Oklahoma that reached out to us for help. Laila, a pit/boxer mix was found living under a trailer. Luciana, a long-haired Chihuahua, was also from a shelter in Oklahoma. And, Sweet Corn, a mixed breed, was found during Adel’s Sweet Corn Festival. Bismark was adopted by a family in New Jersey and the other pups have been adopted by Iowa families,” Heinz said.

However despite its efforts to aid homeless dogs, AHeinz57 is currently at risk of outgrowing its current building, an old vet clinic that has been remodeled throughout the years to fit the organization’s needs. In an effort to expand their facilities and to meet their increasing needs, the non-profit has launched a capital campaign in order to raise $1.2 million for the construction of two new buildings.

“One building will be our rescue building that will enable us to save more lives, provide better resources for law enforcement with animal-related issues, provide resources and programs for our community, and function far more efficiently and effectively,” Heinz said, “The other will be a boarding facility that will generate income for the rescue building. We will provide boarding for the public, doggie daycare, and training programs for dogs.”

Opportunities to aid the construction of the two new buildings include but are not limited to monetary donations, stock gifting, structured giving, donations such as trees, benches, or bushes for the memorial garden and donations of manpower, time, and talents.

“We plan to be a great asset to Dallas County and to surrounding counties that currently have no outlet for homeless dogs,” Heinz said.