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Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Doomed Dogs Get On The Rescue Wagon to Other Shelters

Shelter-animal relocations, known as “transfers,” have been quietly going on for years on a fairly small scale. But the numbers are escalating as growing legions of devoted rescuers organize ever-larger convoys; high-kill shelters initiate partnerships with faraway shelters that have space to accept out-of-luck animals; and large pet-advocacy groups develop strategies to increase the number of pets that are moved and saved every month.

“It’s a growing and increasingly important area in the animal protection field,” says Cory Smith of the Humane Society of the United States, which has developed guidelines to help transporters.

Road to a second chance

PetSmart Charities’ Rescue Waggin’ is the volume leader in moving pets from shelters where there’s no chance they’ll be adopted to shelters where they’re almost certain to get new homes quickly.

Its four transport trucks carry dogs and puppies from shelters mostly in the Midwest and South (92,000 animals are euthanized annually in Louisiana shelters alone, Smith says) to shelters primarily in the North and Northeast, where pet owners have long sterilized their pets and overpopulation has largely been brought under control.

In four years, Rescue Waggin’ has transported more than 25,000 dogs for placement in new homes; officials expect to cover 400,000 miles this year and move 8,000 to 10,000 dogs and puppies. “They’re generally adopted within three days of reaching the receiving shelter,” says Kimberly Noetzel of PetSmart Charities.

In Los Angeles, Pup My Ride has, in less than two years, saved more than 1,000 small dogs that were “red-tagged,” or scheduled to be put down. Animal lovers looked across state lines and took advantage of a supply-and-demand reality.

“There is a big surplus of small dogs in L.A.,” says Elizabeth Oreck of Best Friends Animal Society, which runs the volunteer transport program. “They’re killing them by the thousands. But not very far away, there are communities where shelters have waiting lists for small dogs of every age, color, breed and mix.”

So every 10 to 14 days, 20 to 40 lucky dogs that weigh 30 pounds or less are driven to shelters in Arizona or Utah that have a demand for small dogs. “They are adopted in a matter of days,” Oreck says.

On the opposite coast, Mitchell County Animal Rescue in North Carolina and the Potter League for Animals in Middletown, R.I., formed a partnership in 2004 similar to many that are now cropping up.

The Rhode Island shelter, which often has a waiting list of up to 75 for puppies and small dogs, has received 502 dogs and puppies from the overcrowded shelter nearly 900 miles away. Because of the program, says Potter League’s Christie Smith, the community can “get great puppies here” rather than “fueling puppy mills” by buying them at pet stores.

Still, though transfers are saving some of the estimated 4 million animals euthanized in shelters every year, they’re not without controversy. Some people worry that high-kill communities have less motivation to consider spay/neuter programs if pets are exported and the specter of an 85% kill rate no longer hovers. They also worry that the receiving shelters, in their zeal to help, may lessen adoption chances for pets from their own communities.

Strict parameters necessary

“Transfers aren’t a be-all-end-all,” Smith acknowledges. They’re a reasonable adjunct to other programs such as sterilization, she says, adding that many experts believe such initiatives aren’t undermined by exporting unwanted pets if the “messaging to the community” is done properly. Also, she says, officials at both ends must establish strict parameters.

Transfer proponents say it’s unfair to make animals suffer simply because some areas haven’t fully addressed overpopulation. “If someone is drowning, you don’t just stand there and criticize their inability to swim,” says JoAnne Yohannan of North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington, N.Y., a pet-transfer pioneer that began receiving animals in the 1990s through partnerships with high-kill groups, most of them in the South. “There are animals that are dying, and there are families here who want them.”

North Shore will receive about 7,500 dogs and puppies this year from other states.

By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

rescue-mobileThe North Shore Animal League America van sits at the Indianapolis Animal Care & Control during a Tour For Life (TFL) adoption event.

North Shore, the no-kill shelter in Port Washington, N.Y., helps hundreds of pets get new homes every spring with its one-month TFL.

Two mobile units have visited 23 cities from Redding, Calif., to Parma, Ohio, in the past four weeks during a 25-stop, long-haul tour that wraps up Saturday.

No animals are transported from one state to another. Instead, huge, festive local pet adoption events are organized around the arrival of the hard-to-miss units that “carry the message of adoption,” says North Shore’s Joanne Yohannan.

The TFL program was launched in 2001 with four shelters and 50 adoptions. It has evolved to two vehicles that ply two different routes during March and April, attracting thousands at some stops.

In San Antonio this month, 21 rescue groups converged for TFL day and 70 pets were adopted, most of them with special needs, Yohannan says. In Nashville, six groups found homes for 145 animals, and organizers there so cherish TFL’s annual visits that they presented the unit driver a guitar autographed by country star George Strait.

When the two $200,000 units that allow pets to be showcased in a walk-though environment return to New York, they will have covered more than 11,000 miles and incurred more than $16,000 in expenses (covered by sponsor Purina). About 800 shelter pets will have gone to new homes.

Related Articles:  Where there is a will…

Shelters all over the country, but especially in states with high foreclosures and high unemployment, are bursting at the seams.  So if you have the room in your home and the love in your heart… adopt just one more pet and save a life.

Do I Go Home Today?
by Sandi Thompson

My family brought me home
cradled in their arms.
They cuddled me and smiled at me,
and said I was full of charm.

They played with me and laughed with me.
They showered me with toys.
I sure do love my family,
especially the girls and boys.

The children loved to feed me,
they gave me special treats.
They even let me sleep with them – 
all snuggled in the sheets.

I used to go for walks,
often several times a day.
They even fought to hold the leash, 
I’m very proud to say.

They used to laugh and praise me,
when I played with that old shoe.
But I didn’t know the difference
between the old ones and the new.

The kids and I would grab a rag,
for hours we would tug.
So I thought I did the right thing
when I chewed the bedroom rug.

They said that I was out of control,
and would have to live outside.
This I did not understand,
although I tried and tried.

The walks stopped, one by one;
they said they hadn’t time.
I wish that I could change things,
I wish I knew my crime.

My life became so lonely,
in the backyard on a chain.
I barked and barked all day long,
to keep from going insane.

So they brought me to the shelter,
but were embarrassed to say why.
They said I caused an allergy,
and then kissed me goodbye.

If I’d only had some classes,
as a little pup.
I wouldn’t have been so hard to handle
when I was all grown up.

“You only have one day left,”
I heard the worker say.
Does this mean a second chance?
Do I go home today?

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April 24, 2009 - Posted by | Animal Abandonement, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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