How Pug Rescue of Austin Was Created

Everyone loves pugs, so why would they need rescuing? You may have heard this question from others. Signe Corbin knows all too well that there are many answers. Basically, despite their friendly dispositions, clownish personalities, a fierce sense of loyalty, and arguably adorable mugs, pugs can be difficult and expensive to care for.


Signe Corbin sits with her pug Darby during the formation of Pug Rescue of Austin in the summer of 2009.  Early meetings took place at Amy Harris’ home.  As of 2019, Signe has remained with Pug Rescue of Austin as the Medical Coordinator.  

As a medical technician (and pug enthusiast) at a busy animal hospital, Signe is more than aware of the medical problems that often affect pugs. Among the conditions that concern her most are severe airway disease, eye issues, obesity, mobility and spinal problems, and dental disease.

Through her interactions with clients, Signe became aware that there was a grass roots group of volunteers managing the rescue, fostering and adoption of Austin area rescued pugs for DFW Pug Rescue, formed in 1996 and located in the Dallas area. This group of volunteers, led by Rita Hagan, was composed primarily of members of the Austin Pug Club that formed in 2003.

A Pug Club meetup at Bull Creek.  A small group comprised of members of both the Pug Club and DFW Pug Rescue helped to create the Pug Rescue of Austin.

Because she often shared information regarding medical treatment with the group, Rita requested that Signe join them in their work to help pugs in the Austin area. Signe and Rita, along with Kristen Hanna and Brooke Hengst worked to provide care above and beyond the standard provided. These efforts, along with a shared desire to focus on local pugs in need, were the impetus for the formation of Pug Rescue Austin.

A “Pugstock” fundraiser/adoption event, held shortly after Pug Rescue of Austin’s formation.  

Additionally, the dedicated efforts of fellow volunteers Marty Zuehlke, Saloni Radia, Joy Koenig, Joel Koenig, Edye Melton, Angie Stahl, Janet Barrington, Rebekah Saltsman, and Adam Saltsman enabled them to form Pug Rescue of Austin in the summer of 2009. The support and backing of the pug loving members of the Austin Pug Club and Westlake Animal Hospital were, and continue to be, factors in the rescue’s success.

For the Love of the Pugs

“I thought my true passion was the love of veterinary medicine and educating clients. It actually was the love of pugs, educating their owners about their care and my desire to help save and fix all the neglected, abused and abandoned ones.” – Signe Corbin


Angie Stahl at a pug ‘tuneup’ fundraiser event in 2010, roughly a year after formation.  

Because she keeps meticulous records, Signe is able to say that the first official rescue of Pug Rescue of Austin was a fawn pug that was named Rocco (pictured below).

What started with that first rescue in 2009 has grown to over 1,400 pugs and pug mixes rescued to date.

The first president of the Pug Rescue of Austin, Kristen Hanna, holding a pug (left). One of the founders of Pug Rescue of Austin, Rita Hagen (right).  

A Lasting Legacy

Pug Rescue of Austin has expanded its reach to the San Antonio area and volunteers are working to increase the number of dogs rescued each year to continue their mission to provide a safe, caring and humane refuge for abandoned pugs and to ensure quality adoptive homes while promoting responsible pug ownership.


A Pug Rescue of Austin Adoption event.

“My goal was to improve the quality and length of life of every pug I came in contact with. Fortunately, there was a large group of pug lovers in Austin who were ready to support the cause.” – Signe Corbin