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Puppy Junction store prepares debut

  • Aimee Goodwin snuggles with one of the rescue puppies she helped bring to Vermont from Puerto Rico at her home in Norwich, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/5/2019 9:53:52 PM
Modified: 4/5/2019 9:54:06 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Norwich woman who started rescuing stray dogs from Puerto Rico three years ago has her eyes set on her next venture: an adoption, volunteer and education center in downtown White River Junction.

Aimee Goodwin has plans to open Puppy Junction next month, a storefront that will give the nonprofit Student Rescue Project a place to showcase rescued dogs that are up for adoption in the Upper Valley. It also will provide an area for people of all ages to volunteer and learn about a program that gets hundreds of canines off the streets and into homes.

The main goal of having a retail location is to create a revenue stream to hire staff and generate resources to help more dogs, many facing a grim fate on the streets of Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and other places with animal overpopulation problems.

“We are growing. Demand is up for adoptions,” Goodwin said this week.

And that’s a good thing, given the number of dogs needing homes.

“They are suffering on the streets,” said Goodwin, who started rescuing dogs in 2016 under the name Surfin’ Sato, a nonprofit she dreamed up.

The organization has since been renamed the Student Rescue Project, but has the same mission of “animal welfare education.” Volunteers, many of them students, work with individual rescuers or organizations in Puerto Rico and other places to get dogs off the streets.

For the past three years, the rescued dogs go into foster homes after arriving in the Upper Valley while the adoption process is carried out.

With the White River Junction location, the dogs still will be placed in foster homes but will be at Puppy Junction during the day. They will then return to their foster homes at night, and no overnight boarding is planned.

“It’s that ‘doggie in the window’ concept,” she said.

Passers-by and their pooches can stop into the shop to see the dogs, as well as take advantage of services Puppy Junction hopes to offer.

Goodwin said there likely will be a grooming salon and dog-human bakery, services that would help generate funds for the organization.

Goodwin is close to signing an agreement with Phil Edson to rent space in his Main Street Furniture building, which sits on the corner of North Main Street and Bridge Street in downtown White River Junction, Edson said this week.

Edson, who will continue to run Main Street Furniture next door, said he is excited about the prospects of Puppy Junction.

“The town needs something that is different,” he said. “And the Upper Valley is very dog-friendly.”

Hartford Zoning Administrator Jo-Ann Ells said Goodwin’s proposal is an option for use within North Main Street’s central business district, though she wasn’t sure if it would require a hearing.

Edson is still in the process of moving his belongings out of the space that Puppy Junction will utilize. Renovations will begin soon after.

Although she called the move “ambitious,” Goodwin hopes to open around Memorial Day.

“We anticipate that having a physical location where kids can get involved with formal dog rescue programs will be a huge hit,” Goodwin said, adding that another desire is to offer puppy rescue summer camp programs for kids.

So far in 2019, the Student Rescue Project has rescued 70 dogs. Since 2016, the project has rescued more than 400 dogs.

The organization in late 2017 had to suspend rescues for a period of time after a handful dogs fell ill and one tested positive for leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be transmitted from animals to humans and other pets.

“Every time we place a dog in a home it brings in the funds and opens up availability to get another dog off the street,” said Goodwin, who also owns Canine Mountain Adventures, a dog walking and socialization business in Norwich. “This is going to allow us to meet the demand for our programs and services and help take advantage of the many opportunities that are coming our way by increasing our scope and reach.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at or 603-727-3248.

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