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Young Professional of the Year Nominee: Azure Davis, Ruff Start Rescue

Young Professional of the Year Nominee: Azure Davis, Ruff Start Rescue

The Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce's Young Professional of the Year award will recognize an employee or business owner that is under the age of 40 as of May 31, 2019, and

  • serves as a role model for young other young professionals both personally and professionally 
  • is an emerging leader who demonstrates excellence, creativity, and initiative in his/her business or profession  
  • volunteers through organizations within the area that work to improve the community  


Azure is the Founder of Ruff Start Rescue

Nominator Statements: 

“At just 23 years old in late 2009 Azure saw the need to save one dog from dying an unfair and unjust death. Hope, a gorgeous dog that just had her pups euthanized was next on the list, and Azure couldn’t let that go. She claimed the Ohio dog along with one more and arranged their transportation ultimately to the Princeton, MN airport. They were treated for their illnesses through donations she was able to scrape together, and they found loving, forever families. Azure found her calling in life and established Ruff Start Rescue in 2010 saving 146 animals with the help of recruited fosters and volunteers. Today, Ruff Start Rescue employs over twenty people, has a brick and mortar location in Princeton, MN, and serves communities across Minnesota including Elk River saving almost 12,000 animals to date from horrifying fates. This has only been possible through her dynamic leadership and passion to save animals in need. Without that scary first step into the world of rescue, 12,000 animals would be without homes and likely their lives. She’s not slowing down anytime soon because a lot more animals still need saving.”  — Kayla Koscielniak 


“This young woman earned a business degree and went on to start a foster-based animal rescue in the north metro that has saved over 11,000 animals since 2010. The rescue also has an extensive outreach/education (over 5,000 children have heard presentations) to help grow the next generation of pet owners. The rescue has over 690 volunteers and 400 fosters that all work toward the common goal of helping animals find their ‘'fur’ ever homes.” — Pam Lowry 


“Azure is an amazing leader and helps to save thousands of animal’s lives every year.” — Andrew Willman 


“They do great work for the Central Minnesota area and are mostly overlooked because of the surplus of rescues in the Twin Cities area. Azure Davis also works tirelessly to continually grow the rescue and is a wonderful person with a large heart dedicated to giving back to the community Ruff Start serves.” — Kayla Knudsen 

What would your peers/employees say about working with you? 

She leads with passion and heart. She also empowers, educates, and guides them to stay mission-driven as well.

Describe yourself in one word.


What impact do you want to leave on the community? 

That in ten years’ time, everyone will know that there is a resource and they have the guidance to never feel like they are in a helpless situation with a pet. I want people to know they have a choice and help them feel inspired and connected.  

What do you think this award will mean for your future?

To even be nominated is a huge honor. I’ve never, ever won an award for anything I’ve done. Winning this award will help validate my efforts and motivate me to keep up the fight and stay emotionally strong for my mission.

Why do you think you were nominated? 

People are seeing the impact that Ruff Start Rescue is having in the area and that we’ve continued to fight the hard fights. We are motivated to do the right things and believe that we can all play a part in the mission. Even if that means just talking about it to others or sharing our mission/story.

What is your greatest strength?

The ability to create structures for sustainability and to see the big picture in a way that gets the right people at the table to make things happen.

What inspires you professionally? 

To be able to see that my efforts are making a difference and having a real impact. Surrounding myself with the right volunteers and employees that help me be and do better. I love hearing the stories people tell me of the differences Ruff Start Rescue has made and knowing that we’ve saved over 13,000 animals. Who knows what would have happened to those animals if we hadn’t been persistent in our mission.

On behalf of all of us at ERACC, congratulations to Azure on her nomination for 2020 Young Professional of the Year!

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