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Mary Quinn befriends some of Sonoma County's most miserable dogs.

"They aren't broken," she says, "they're just bent."

Quinn toils to feed, clean, assure, train and straighten out dogs used as fight-ring bait or abandoned, chained and forgotten, traded on the street like chattel or labeled as unredeemable and designated to be killed.

Then she writes a personal ad for them.

A current one features a photograph of Sophia Flower, a white and brown pit bull pup.

"I am very social with all people, kids, and other animals too," states the dog's ad in The Press Democrat classified section. "What I love best is riding in the car with my head across your lap.

"Please call Mary."

Quinn, a 56-year-old former Point Arena country girl, can tell you exactly why she writes a dog-seeks-adoption ad as though the pup were speaking.

She recalls visiting the county animal shelter and looking into the eyes of a homeless dog that had a story and longings she could only imagine.

As the dog looked away, it occurred to Quinn, "She has no voice."

Quinn created the non-profit All Aboard Animal Search & Rescue to give such dogs a voice and find them a good home.

Some dogs come to her from people who are no longer able to keep them, or who discover them running loose or living in often deplorable conditions. Sometimes, Quinn reaches into her own pocket to buy dogs from people she believes are mistreating them.

She'll offer to purchase dogs from homeless people when she perceives that the animal is not a cherished companion but a prop or, worse, a victim of chronic neglect and abuse.

To check on the welfare of dogs kept by homeless people, she'll sometimes venture into encampments "that I probably shouldn't."

With the help of All Aboard donors and the staff of Santa Rosa's Western Farm Center, Quinn also provides dog food, winter-weather gear and other essentials to homeless people she believes are trying to do right by their pets.

"I don't want them to starve. I don't want them to freeze," she said.

Vince Hase, who once was homeless, remembers the day Quinn pulled up alongside him and his dog, Scrappy, on a street in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square/West End neighborhood.

"She asked about my dog and if we needed anything," said Hase. He replied that Scrappy, an elderly blue heeler mix, could use a raincoat.

Hase said Quinn drove off and minutes later returned with a raincoat for his dog. She subsequently shot portraits of Scrappy, brought her food and paid Hase well to perform some yard work at her home.

Quinn also happened by shortly after a hit-and-run car killed Scrappy on Wilson Street early in 2013. Hase was beside himself, and most grateful when Quinn offered to take care of cremation.

Months later, a niece who'd been looking for Hase for the better part of 20 years was on the Internet and came upon a Press Democrat piece about him and Scrappy. Hase now lives happily with her and her family in Antioch.

He said by phone Friday he will return to Santa Rosa to help Quinn with her mission to aid dogs in need.

"She took a piece of my heart," he said.

Quinn figures she would not be volunteering on behalf of distressed dogs were it not for her late parents and her upbringing in the coastal countryside north of Point Arena. Among the many animals that graced her childhood was the gopher, injured by a cat, that she hid under her bed.

Norma and Joseph Quinn encouraged their daughter to follow her heart, and Norma exhibited the rewards and challenges of service through her job directing Point Arena's senior center.

Her daughter decided, "I'd rather advocate for the animals."

Mary Quinn said she could not do the work without the emotional, physical and financial support of her husband, Jerry Cassel.

Quinn is assisted at All Aboard Animal Search & Rescue by several volunteers — she said she'd love to have more. No one gets paid.

Beyond taking in and seeking homes for dogs and other animals, Quinn trains and socializes dogs in danger of being surrendered to a pound for disagreeable behavior, and she helps people search for missing dogs.

She was invaluable to Santa Rosa's Beth Gallatin when her family's Bernese Mountain dog, Boo, ran off during a wind storm last November and went missing for a month.

"She helped me tons and tons," said Gallatin. "She talked me on the phone for hours a day.

"Like me, Mary is kind of a mountain girl. And she's rather an eccentric person, which I really adore about her."

On occasion, the classified ads written by Quinn and featuring homeless dogs report on happy endings — successful adoptions. Quinn is preparing such an ad for a pair of Rottweiler/Bernese Mountain Dogs she called the Grizzly Grizwalds.

She works with all breeds but finds herself powerfully drawn to the breed some people love to hate.

"I specialize in pit bulls," she said.

"They're the most misunderstood dog. They're the most abused dog. And they're the most forgiving dog I've ever worked with."

Whatever the breed, Quinn is convinced that dogs "feed something in our soul that no human being can."

"They give me something," she said, "and I give them something back."

(Contact Staff Writer Chris Smith at 521-5211 or chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)

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