After winding our way through the rolling hills of Kentucky, we arrived at the home of Melissa, a foster for Kentucky Saving Them Together, Inc.. It was the perfect last stop for our fall shelter tour.
Melissa, and Wendy, the vice-president of KSTT, welcomed us with a yummy spread of food and open hearts.
Melissa looked pretty good considering that for the last two weeks, she’d been up every two hours around the clock bottle feeding a litter of four tiny puppies whose mother was hit by a car and killed. To make matters worse, they were also battling kennel cough.
On our last day of our shelter tour this fall, we made two stops in Kentucky. The first was in Franklin, where we visited The Fix Foundation and the Simpson County Animal Shelter. A remarkable woman runs both and her vision and smart policies are truly ‘fixing’ things.
Ruth started the Fix Foundation after relocating to the area from Las Vegas. She’d never been involved in animal rescue before coming to Franklin, but when she discovered the state of the shelter and the number of animals dying, she had to step in. At the time, the county shelter was killing 98% of the animals they took in.
In early September, we spent a day with Lisa Shedd, founder of HAWS-Helping Animals Without Shelter just outside Huntsville, Alabama in Madison County. We joined Lisa and volunteers Chris and Karen to build an enclosure for a brindle pittie named Jaeger.
When Lisa introduced us to the chunky chocolate-peanut butter colored pitbull, she explained, “He’s in trouble with the law.”
Okay, let’s talk about something that’s super uncomfortable for me….
I try hard to keep it in perspective.
When my husband and I have to spend large sums of money on something truly un-fun or unexpected but necessary like a car or home repair, or we make a stupid mistake and waste money, or one of our kids costs us some serious dough, I always say, “It’s just money. That’s why we have it.”
I work hard to pinch pennies and cook in and shop smart. I’m all about the use-it-up, make-do, don’t-waste-a-bit. ‘Shopping’ as an outing is one of my least favorite things to do. Money, for me, is a means to an end.
Or a necessary evil. It can do so much good, and it can also create a ton of stress.
One of the reasons we formally organized our work with Who Will Let the Dogs Out was to allow us to raise money to not only help the rescues and shelters we visit, but also so that Nancy and I could stop funding our shelter tours out of our own savings.
The smell is familiar to me now, but that hot August day in 2018 it overwhelmed my senses. The mix of disinfectant, urine, feces, mildew, and desperation was powerful, made even more so by the heat.
Shelters, even the good ones, I’ve come to understand, have the same smell. I recognized it that first time as the faint scent that would waft off of foster dogs when they arrived at our house off a transport from the south.
In that squat brick building, the smell was accompanied by the unrelenting noise of animals jumping against chain link, knocking over metal bowls, barking and whining, their nails grabbing for purchase on the cement.
I called her the rescue wizard of Tennessee in my book 100 Dogs & Counting, but it isn’t magic; it’s serious work that has saved over 7700 lives since she began this work in 2016.
The first time I visited the wizard, Laura Prechel, I shared the house with twenty-six dogs awaiting their lift out of Tennessee. The dogs and puppies were housed in crates in her finished basement and garage. I watched, astounded, as she fed, watered, and cleaned up after the dogs and then took them out to potty before tucking them back in their crates to rest before their journey. And then I slept through their 4:30am departure (best of intentions).
I believe it was Margaret Mead who said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.
SCAMP (Saving Cheatham Animals Mission PAWSible) is a smart model for how small group of committed individuals can help a publicly funded shelter. There’s so much to love about SCAMP (including its namesake pup!).
SCAMP is a 501c3 organization that raises money to directly help the animals at Cheatham County Animal Shelter. SCAMP provides immediate help by purchasing needed supplies, veterinary services, and pretty much anything outside the budget that a shelter would have to requisition the county government to obtain.
Camp Jean is more than a shelter—it’s exactly what it says it is – camp.
The dogs who are fortunate enough to be pulled from a typical Kentucky shelter situation and land with Deidrea at Camp Jean are some lucky dogs.
Deidrea specifically looks for dogs who are ultimately adoptable but may need some extra time and attention. She gives priority to dogs from the struggling county shelters and pounds where dogs truly suffer while waiting for adoption, rescue, or death. Places where the conditions are harsh, the vet care nonexistent, and any kind of enrichment impossible.