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.
The mission of Paws of SWVA is similar to so many rescue organizations in the south – keep animals out of the shelter.
Not only are shelters extremely stressful places for animals, too many shelters in our rural south still kill dogs (and cats) for space, so crowded shelters mean more animals die. Paws of SWVA keeps dogs (and cats) out of the shelter by providing foster homes, securing rescue placement, and getting animals adopted, many times out of state.
The other way that Paws keeps animals out of the shelter is by promoting and providing spay/neuter services. They run a van service twice a month to Bristol, Virginia to a veterinarian there because vet services are so few and far between (and expensive) in southwest Virginia.
We are headed south today. There were snowflakes falling as I walked Fanny for the last time, assuring her that she would see me in ten days, but knowing my absence will be hard on her. I am hoping it will be warmer where we are going.
Our schedule is full and what was originally a 7-day trip has grown to 10 days. We plan to visit 16 shelters, rescues, and pounds, plus check out a market where anyone can sell a dog or puppy with no papers or vaccine records or verification of any kind, just cash on the nose. That’s the plan, but you know about plans.
So much of what we will see is foreign to the part of the country where I live. In fact, as if to underline that point, on Monday, the dog warden Read more ›
So much of our rescue efforts are focused on the rural south, as well they should be. That’s where the majority of dogs are suffering and dying, where shelters are overwhelmed, and money runs short, but recently I participated in a rescue that wasn’t in the south. It was actually four hours north of my home in Pennsylvania.
It happened because of a connection I made through my book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Katie, a reader from Seneca, PA contacted me through Facebook after finishing my book, and we struck up a conversation, as kindred spirits do when it comes to dogs.
Six months later, she contacted me regarding a dog who Read more ›
On Monday, I hitched up the wagons and drove to town. (That’s what Nick likes to say every time I say I need to go ‘to town’ which is 10 miles away.) I was headed to the Warren County Humane Society, aka, the Warren County Animal Shelter.
I was signing up two of ‘my’ four cats to be neutered/spayed and vaccinated for rabies. Read more ›
After plying Ian with eggs and bagels, we drove out to Trisha’s place, home of her rescue, RARE (Rural Animal Rescue Effort). Disguised as a pretty, petite, energetic normal person, Trisha is a powerhouse who rescues animals all over western Tennessee, fighting for them on every level. She will not tolerate your nonsense and has no qualms with calling a spade, a spade.
“I’m not really a human-person, I’m a dog-person,” she told me. Currently, she fosters thirty-five at her house (along with dozens of cats and kittens, and a few rabbits.
Driving west with Trisha in the back seat, it was hard to keep up with her busy mind as she rattled off the situations we were headed for. Our first stop was the Huntingdon dog pound in Carroll County. She explained that she hoped we’d be able to get in but hadn’t gotten confirmation of that from the dog catchers she’d contacted. Dogcatcher is really what they are called. The county has two dogcatchers who make upwards of a thousand dollars a month. She checked her phone again. No response. “They don’t give a shit,” she said.