Meet Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue Team

Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue,

Marjorie Mapes

boerboel rescue

Marjorie is Founder and President of Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue, INC. I got my first Boerboel in 2008, my Topanga girl. She was one of the best dogs; great temperament and very family-oriented. We got our second Boerboel three years later, our Buddha Bear. We joined the Boerboel world online and started to notice a trend starting of Boerboels needing homes. In 2014, without knowing what the heck we were even doing, we jumped in with both feet and started Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue. We didn’t even know if there was or had ever been a Boerboel breed rescue organization. Our first rescue, although not 100% Boerboel, a BB mix, was Argus. He was adopted to what we thought was a great family at the time, but he found his way back to us five years later after they had two babies back-to-back and decided they didn’t have time for him any longer. We will always take our rescues back if ever needed. We rescued one dog at a time, being the fosters, until Kayte Ryan came into my life about five years ago. She has been one of the biggest blessings and has helped us grow to where we are today. I also have to give big kudos to my husband, Jeremy Mapes, who is not always hands-on with the rescue like I am because he works 24/7 with his own business, but any time I need him he is there. He may grumble at times when another dog comes through our door, but he never says, “No.”

What reasons do people have for surrendering their Boerboels?

We find a lot of the surrender requests are of male Boerboels entering into, what we’d call, their rebellious teenage years and are pushing their boundaries… from around 1-1/2 years to 2-1/2 years old. People usually don’t know about this stage. It catches them off guard and they can’t handle it. We do try to help them work through it, if we can. Kayte is great at this and, sometimes, we are successful. It is always great if we can help a family keep their dog instead of surrendering. We get a lot of the “our dog is too aggressive” requests. These, if they truly have an aggression issue, we cannot take as we are foster-based only and we will NEVER put our foster families in harm’s way. We also get the all-too-familiar, “We are moving and can’t take them with us.” We see a lot of senior surrender requests as well, with the excuse, “We just don’t have time for them anymore or they aren’t getting along with the other dog in the family.” Now, one that I have noticed popping up more often is when the owner passes away and the extended family doesn’t want the dog or the widow is not able to take care of the dog. Or another is the all-too-familiar excuse, “The dog is too protective and we have so much traffic going in and out of the house that we are afraid someone is going to get bit.” This comes into play with people who haven’t done their research and don’t understand they are getting a guardian breed that needs training—and that the training needs to be reinforced every single day.

boerboel rescue

“What we’d like to see more of is people educating themselves on the breed and on breeders. Ask questions. Research like crazy.”



What current challenges does Boerboel Rescue face, and which age groups do you see most often?

As Kayte says, I think some of the biggest challenges we have faced—and still face—in rescue is finding appropriate fosters and getting enough funding to keep going. We get all the very sick, the blown knees, and the heart worm positives. You name it, we get it, and we have to find a way to pay for it. It kills us to have to turn a dog away, but we have always said we will not get in over our heads to where we can’t properly care for a dog.

We see a lot of seniors, like our rescue Koi (pictured above). Not one of my better pictures, but this is Koi on the day before we helped her cross the rainbow Bridge. She ended up with bone cancer. (Can you tell I had been crying?) I think this photo represents a lot of what we endure in rescue. We—especially Kayte Ryan—have had to help so many cross the bridge due to illness. It is a tough road, for sure. Sometimes the emotional stress of it all can be very overwhelming.

What we’d like to see more of is people educating themselves on the breed and on breeders. Ask questions. Research like crazy. Maybe then the requests to take in unstable, mental dogs will go down tremendously.

Kayte Ryan

boerboel rescue

Kayte has been involved in rescue for over 25 years, taking a break for a while when she had her daughter. She has sat on the Board of Directors as Vice President of an all-Mastiff breed rescue, covering the East Coast, and currently holds a board position with Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue. She stays heavily involved in all levels, which includes volunteer support, fostering, behavior and training advisor, medical needs, fundraising (through both social media and live events), intake, adoptions, and transports—in no particular order. She has built an incredibly large network of like-minded individuals and supporters over the years and believes in working together to accomplish one goal, which is to save animals. She has dedicated her life to this cause. Kayte has also bred Cane Corsos and been involved in showing.

What reasons do people have for surrendering their Boerboels?

These are the things we are told: Owners do not have time; they cannot afford the care; the Boerboel has become too protective; the Boerboel is too destructive, or aggressive; the Boerboel they own is too much dog for them and they did not realize it or cannot handle it; the Boerboel does not like a family member or does not like the other animals; their spouse said to get rid of the dog; the Boerboel bit someone (which goes along with aggression, but people define aggression in many ways); the family is moving and the new home does not accommodate the Boerboel; the Boerboel smells bad and they want to surrender it to rescue. There are many really quite sad and ridiculous reasons we have heard, but there is almost ALWAYS a story behind the story we are given.

What current challenges does Boerboel Rescue face, and which age groups do you see most often?

We place a dog with an appropriate foster for that dog. However, it is difficult to find people willing to foster, especially those who have some experience. We have some kind-hearted people with no experience who want to foster, but they are hence not a good fit. Plus, very rarely does a bomb-proof Boerboel come in that fits. Even if we have an open home, we cannot intake a dog unless it is a good fit. We do not want to set the dog up for failure and we do not want anyone to get hurt. (Even with safety precautions in place it still goes south sometimes, but we all do our best.) We also need people willing to volunteer in other ways such as processing applications. Fundraising is a big deal and enables the rescue to do more for each dog. The most common age groups we see are typically grouped into two age groups: 18 months to two years old; and senior dogs. Sadly, we are also seeing an uptick right now in backyard breeder dumps. When a dog is surrendered, the first thing we ask is, “Have you spoken to the breeder about returning the Boerboel?” The answer is almost always “yes” but the breeder refuses to take the dog back. Sometimes the breeders just do not respond back when notified. Regardless, the majority of times it is a breeder we have not heard of before.


  • Welcome to Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue, Inc. We are an organization dedicated to the rescue and re-homing of the South African Mastiff (Boerboel). We provide shelter, food, veterinary care, training, and love to our rescues until they find their forever homes.

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