Our second week on tour coincided with Hurricane Ida, which thankfully skirted around the places we planned to visit mostly dumping a bit of rain here and there. We were able to rearrange our visits and move our one all-day outside to after the weather passed thanks to the flexibility of many people.
While our visits confirmed what we learned the first week – shelters are growing crowded as owner surrenders continue to ratchet up, and puppy and kitten season does not abate. But we also noticed something else that was different on this tour than our previous ones. There are a lot more purebred dogs in the shelters.
My best guess is that this is because so many people bought puppies during the pandemic and those puppies grew into adolescent dogs which require a lot of work and don’t always live up to the expectations of owners. Plus certain breeds have characteristics that owners may or may not have anticipated or been able to handle. Beyond that, economic circumstances have a lot of people surrendering dogs they can’t afford anymore. At any rate, we saw purebred large breeds like Huskies, Rottweilers, Labs, plus many smaller breeds and scruffies.
We also saw a lot of puppies and small breed dogs, which is usually not the case as those dogs get pulled by rescue or adopted at a much higher rate. It was telling that rescue coordinators are struggling to find rescues willing to take puppies.
To me, the presence of so many ‘desirable’ type animals in the shelters is a ‘canary in the coalmine’. It is time for rescues to double-down on all that they can do to help because full shelters lead to killing dogs for space. Even at the shelters that have for many years been saving every treatable, adoptable animal, there is a fresh fear that killing for space is on the horizon if things don’t improve.
Fingers crossed for the early fall back-to-school surge in adoptions and rescue pulls.
We will tell you MUCH more about all thirteen organizations that we visited on this tour in the coming weeks. Be sure to subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel so you don’t miss a thing!
And in case you weren’t following along in real time on Facebook, the week’s posts are pasted below.
As we walked through several municipal pounds in Tennessee, I kept thinking, “Thank God for Amber.”
She and her husband Brandon and their rescue Halfway Home are the only hope for too many animals whose lives could so easily be snuffed out, unknown and uncounted.
As far as I can tell, ‘animal control’ in Tennessee is Read more
After spending part of our day at the Ripley Trade Market nightmare, it was wonderful to spend some time with Meridith Perry, the president of Midsouth Animal Welfare Foundation, whose rescue partners with OPH(our rescue) in Mississippi to save dogs.
Blond, petite, and determined, Meridith has never known a time when she wasn’t rescuing animals. Growing up, before rescuing was a ‘thing’, her parents were always bringing home dogs and cats that the family would foster and then find homes for.
In Mississippi, the need is endless and when we arrived at Meridith’s home, what she needed first was Read more
I’d heard about the Animal Rescue Corps before, snippets mentioned by other rescue people in passing, but nothing solid, nothing that I thought had anything to do with the world of dog rescue I inhabited.
I pictured a group of superheroes who swooped in during the direst of situations and rescued the dogs, but I had no understanding of how that actually worked, where the dogs went when it was all said and done, and if they were actual people or just this brilliant fantasy.
Yesterday we were on our way south to shine a light on the shelters, rescues, and pounds working so hard to save dogs, in the hopes of raising awareness and resources to help them do just that. It was our first official trip for Who Will Let the Dogs Out and we were excited to get started, maybe over eager. We woke to snow in Christiansburg, Virginia and Read more
“I hope this isn’t some wild-goose chase,” I warned Nancy as we headed south from Montgomery to visit our next shelter on the tour.
I’d heard about SHARK (Safe Haven Animal Rescue Kennel) from a Humane Society representative. I’d asked her about shelters further south in Alabama and her immediate response was, “You have to go see SHARK. You won’t believe it.”
She was right.
As we drove south Read more
Our next stop in Alabama was The Humane Society of Chilton County in Clanton, AL. I’d heard great things about this place and it didn’t disappoint.
Chilton has a very relaxed, happy air about it which made complete sense upon meeting the director. Jennifer is a former stay at home mom who began as a volunteer and ultimately became the director. She is calm and certain and clearly loves her job.
As director she is hands-on, rarely to be found in her office. Instead, she Read more
One of the visits I was most looking forward to on this trip was with RUFF (Rescuers United For Furbabies), an OPH rescue partner.
They are a foster-based rescue on the front lines who are saving lives in Walker County, Alabama.
RUFF supports Walker County Humane and Adoption Center in a gazillion ways, but I knew of them because they pulled dogs from Walker County for OPH, placing them in their foster homes, getting them to the vet for everything necessary to make the trip north and then meeting our transports to hand off dogs.
We met Kara Jones, one of the RUFF leaders at Walker County late in the afternoon after she had finished her workday teaching seventh graders. Kara is pretty amazing, and not just because Read more
When we pulled up at the gate for our first stop in Alabama, enormous dogs loped towards us. “What are those?” I asked Nancy, incredulous. I’d never seen dogs like this up close.
We waited while Rhonda, the director of Brindlee Mountain Rescue put the giant creatures in their kennels and opened the automatic gate for us.
Once inside the tidy property, we met Rhonda, a smart, kind, sensible woman who had a gentle air about her, not unlike the giants we would soon meet. Rhonda created this rescue so 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