NewsWomen's History Month


Meet the Bakersfield dog rescuer who never gives up

"I can't turn a blind eye," says Gina Rolow, founder of Rescuing Abandoned Dogs in Bakersfield. "I'm sorry."
Feeding Dumped Dogs (FILE)
Posted at 9:39 PM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-11 14:57:13-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Full of heart and never giving up is how friends of Kern County dog rescuer Gina Rolow describe her. If you could ask the dogs she rescues, whether they are left out in the orchards, abandoned as pregnant moms on the side of the road, or the puppies she pulls off the train tracks, they would probably say the same.

If you've ever been out driving in Kern County, you might have seen someone on the side of the road filling up containers of dog food, leaving out buckets of fresh water, or persuading a stray dog to jump in their car to be rescued.

You might have seen Gina.

"Because if I don't do something about it, I can't sleep at night," said Rolow. "I can't stand it. I can't handle it."

Gina Rolow
Gina Rolow, local dog rescuer and founder of RAD (Rescuing Abandoned Dogs) in Bakersfield

And doing something about the growing issue of dog dumping in Kern County is all Rolow does, whether it's responding to every Facebook post about a found dog or spreading the word about spay and neuter, to her, it's more of a job than a hobby.

It all started after Rolow opened her own gym and noticed some unexpected neighbors.

"One day, I noticed at the store that this dog was coming to the backyard of my gym, and he had what looked like an injured hip, and I got them with me right now. It's Buddy," said Rolow. "He's my first stray at 11 years old. He was 11 years old and he's been with me ever since I witnessed what people were doing to him in that neighborhood."

Buddy Rolow

According to Rolow, Buddy was all it took to get the ball rolling.

"I think I took maybe 400 pounds of food and just all these pans," said Rolow. "I sit on the railroad tracks for these dogs that I saw all the time."

The efforts continued to grow, until finally Rolow started the organization Rescuing Abandoned Dogs, or RAD.

"Four years ago, I formed RAD. I had to get serious 'cause I saw more and more dogs posted on Facebook, and I thought, 'Oh, my God! In between clients in my gym, I'm gonna go run out and go run out and go run out… will you run out of gas?'" said Rolow.

Along with going out to save dogs, Rolow was also recruiting fellow animal lovers to help with the job. One of those animal lovers is Melissa Hutton.

Melissa Hutton
RAD animal rescuer Melissa Hutton

"The thing she (Rolow) says all the time is 'We'll never give up. We'll never give up.' And that's on the back of my shirt," said Hutton. "I can prove it, and we don't give up."

When asked why she decided to actually make a difference instead of scrolling past the posts about the dogs, Rolow says she doesn't have a choice.

"I can't turn a blind eye," said Rolow. "I'm sorry."

Rolow is encouraging others to help too, through education on the topic.

"And it isn't to knock them. Some people don't know there's spay and neuter. Some people don't know that it's accessible or affordable," said Rolow. "They just don't know."

Rolow adds that she thinks it's going to take a sea-change in public attitudes to see real change for the dogs.

Feeding an abandoned dog
On any given day in Bakersfield, you might see Gina Rolow, Melissa Hutton, or another member of the animal rescue RAD out on the side of the road providing food, clean water, and human interaction to stray and abandoned dogs. "Because if I don't do something about it, I can't sleep at night," says Rolow.

"It's gotta be a mental thing, and I really believe after four years and a month that we're here now, and to change the community's mind, we gotta go beyond the surface," said Rolow.

To see Rolow and RAD's work in our community and to find out how you can help with the growing issue of animal abandonment in Kern County, visit Bakersfield Strays online, or connect with RAD through their Facebook group.