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
Now that we are home and settled and sifting through all that we’ve seen and learned at our latest shelter visits, I am embracing every opportunity to share all that we learned visiting southern shelters.
Nancy and her dog Edith Wharton (my fiftieth foster dog who signs books with me) accompanied me to a speaking engagement last week. The wide eyes and the occasional tears in the audience told me that Read more
So many shelters, so many dogs.
I knew at the start of this trip it would be a lot and that keeping all the dogs, directors, and shelters straight might be a challenge. Having Nancy with me helps. I badger her with questions interrupting her work (she spends HOURS editing pictures not just for me and this trip, but to send to directors to use in their efforts to get dogs adopted).
“Which shelter was the one with that cool blue dog with the Catahoula spots?”
“Do you remember what the director said about whether they give Bordetella vaccines?”
“Was there a school bus parked in the yard behind the shelter?” (I actually asked that question more than once, vehicles seem to factor largely in rural southern shelter spaces.)
Nancy doesn’t always have the answers, but sometimes she does or sometimes her pictures provide the clues.
Maybe it was easy to mix up the shelters, as we visited two of four shelters/rescues that are literally within a few miles of each other in a county southeast of Nashville. Clearly, there are many people who care about animals in Bedford County, TN, but from an outsider perspective, I wondered if they were duplicating efforts and whether working together and pooling their resources might be a smarter solution, at least for the dogs. There wasn’t much time to examine that idea as there were dogs to meet and stories to hear.
We started at Shelbyville City Animal Control, arriving late because Read more
I’d like to tell you about a shelter Ian and I visited on our way out of Tennessee during our trip in June. It’s taken me this long to catch up with the Animal Control Officer there to get answers to my many questions. He wasn’t avoiding me, he’s just that busy.
Zach is an example of what an ACO can be—committed, proactive, and effective. In fact, he manages to get 90% or more of the dogs that land in Lebanon Animal Control out alive. Three quarters of those dogs get out through rescue and an astounding 25% are adopted locally.
This is not the norm for too many small rural counties in the south.
We stopped at Lebanon at the urging of Laura, our host while we were in Tennessee. I think she wanted me to see Read more
Yesterday’s visit to Maury County and the Williamson County shelters was an opportunity to set a bar. I wanted Ian to see a typical municipal shelter. Today we will drive 2.5 hours west to see a ‘city pound’ and a rescue that is trying desperately to help the situation.
Maury County, thankfully, was much changed from the last time I was there. That was clear from the faces on the dogs. You can see more of these images on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
I met with Jack, the new director and Maily, a volunteer leader; both are new to Maury in 2019. Both are having a positive impact on the place. Read more