Shelter Tour Wrap Up: Where We Went and What We Learned

Shelter Tour Wrap Up: Where We Went and What We Learned

Every time we go to the shelters, I learn something. This time was no different. We’ve been to over 80 shelters now, so you’d think they would all look alike. In a few ways (dogs in need, incredible people) they are, but in so many ways they are unique.

One of the projects we are working on is creating a Resource Guide for shelters and rescues (and volunteers and advocates). This guide, which is its own tab on our website, is where we collect ideas about grants, fundraising, shelter practices, volunteers, fosters, advocacy, enrichment, education, and pretty much any kind of resource that will help shelters and rescues save more animals.

The guide is changing almost daily as we add new ideas. After this tour, I’ve got a dozen new things to add to it at least. Ideas also come in via our shelter liaisons who monitor our shelter partners and share their ideas/projects/successes, so that others can learn from them. As a wise person once told me – “Copying is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Because often pictures speak louder than words, so we created a video on our YouTube channel that is a Shelter Tour Wrap-Up with information and pictures of the places we visited on this tour. We drove over 2,000 miles, and visited seven shelters in six states. There were lots of stories, and I will share those with you over the next few months, but for now, this video will give you a taste of what we saw and learned:

If you’d like to get involved, we have lots of volunteer opportunities. Fill out our volunteer form or send your questions/interests to whowillletthedogsout@gmail.com. We are already raising money for our next shelter tour, we’d love to have your support.

Until each one has a home,

Cara

Please help us raise awareness by subscribing (button on right side) and sharing this blog. You can also keep track of us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and now Tik Tok!

The mission of Who Will Let the Dogs Out (we call it Waldo for short) is to raise awareness and resources for homeless dogs and the heroes who fight for them.

You can learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020). It’s the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south to find out where all the dogs were coming from. It tells the story of how Who Will Let the Dogs Out began. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.

Amber’s Halfway Home  is our short documentary film produced in partnership with Farnival Films. It follows the work of a remarkable woman and one day of rescue in western Tennessee. Selected for sixteen film festivals (to date), it’s won eight awards (including Best Short Doc, Best Soundtrack, Best of Fest, and Audience Choice), and was nominated for an Emmy! It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring story we hope will compel viewers to work for change. Please watch it and share it far and wide.

For more information on any of our projects, to talk about rescue in your neck of the woods, or become a Waldo volunteer, please email whowillletthedogsout@gmail.com or carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

Moms Who Rescue

Moms Who Rescue

Polk County, Florida is ranked first in Florida and fourth in the nation for number of dogs ‘euthanized’ each year. The Polk County shelter killed 5000 dogs in 2020. Which is even more remarkable considering 2020 was the year so many shelters were emptied (momentarily).

The only way a dog labeled a bully breed can leave the Polk County Shelter alive is if a rescue pulls it. They are not allowed to adopt out any bully breeds. In 2020, the county took in 16,000 dogs; they killed nearly a third of them.

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Saving the ‘Un-saveables’

Saving the ‘Un-saveables’

The Redland Dog Sanctuary is only one and half years old, but its founder and director, Junior, has been helping rescue dogs ever since he emigrated to this country from Brazil twenty-five years ago. He first came to the US to get medical help for one of his triplets, but eventually brought his whole family here to stay.

Trained as a veterinarian in Brazil, he began working as a dog groomer and trainer in Redland, Florida, eventually building up his dog grooming business into a sizable enterprise that included 25 mobile groomers, and employing all three of his children.

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Saving the Throwaway Dogs

Saving the Throwaway Dogs

I first heard about the Redland Rock Pits Abandoned Dog Rescue when another ‘dog writer’ and friend wrote about it on her excellent blog.

I was horrified and drawn to this forgotten place on the very tip of Florida where thousands of dogs were dumped, left to fend for themselves, fight with each other, and possibly be eaten by alligators (my fear) in this remote spot next to the Everglades.

When we put together our Florida tour, I knew I had to see Redland for myself. So on a warm, rainy day, we traveled to Felix Varela High School to interview Yleana about the veterinary magnet program, and afterward she promised that we could follow her to see for ourselves what Pam had written about.

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Humane Education Could Be a Game Changer

Humane Education Could Be a Game Changer

I often hear shelter directors say the way we fix this problem of so many unwanted dogs and the resultant neglect and cruelty is with the next generation. Well, on our last shelter tour, we had the opportunity to see it in action.

At Felix Varela High School in Miami Florida, a remarkable woman named Yleana runs the Veterinary Science magnet academy.

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When the Dogs Move In

When the Dogs Move In

As we walked up the drive alongside the ring where a gleaming dark bay horse cantered like a metronome, my worlds collided. Having spent fifty years loving horses, many of those years riding, teaching, and training them, today was a special treat. Before they ever became rescue heroes and movie stars, Danny and Ron were already famous in the hunter/jumper world I once inhabited.

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The Future is Happening at Furry Friends

The Future is Happening at Furry Friends

There’s a great energy at Furry Friends and their new director, Jason, (on the job 44 days when we visited) exudes a contagious positivity. The building is bright and airy and…fun.

From the lobby we watched as cats ascended the tower between the first and second floors. 40 cats live in this ‘free range’ space complete with shelves and cubbies and tunnels and toys galore. There is even an evening laser light show at random times throughout the night to keep them entertained. Want to see it for yourself? Watch it on their live stream on website – https://www.furryfriendsadoption.org/about-us/live-cam

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Dream Shelter

Dream Shelter

Imagine a shelter where, instead of cages, the dogs live in bedrooms with their buddies. Where they get to play in enormous play yards with pools and obstacles and Astro-turf (which is really good for itching your back).

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Transporting Puppies South?

Transporting Puppies South?

A Second Chance Rescue began in 2007 rescuing primarily puppies and kittens, but also some special needs dogs and cats. They are 100% volunteer-run and foster-based; each year they transport between 900 and 1100 animals to south Florida from Alabama (they also rescue a few from local places that reach out).

We happened to arrive in the area on the night they were receiving their monthly transport. So we got to see their beautiful, enormous, trick-out custom van arrive with 46 animals and watch as fosters arrived to pick them up.

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Doing the Best They Can With What They’ve Got

Doing the Best They Can With What They’ve Got

Fannin County Animal Control looks like a lot of other public animal control facilities. It’s a small sturdy cement bunker type building on a small wooded lot. JR, the animal control officer who greeted us has been here for six years, but the shelter has obviously been here much longer.

Inside we met two dogs Animal Control had picked up off the highway the day before. They were housed in metal crates in the open area across from the kennels, near the space heater – which was lucky for them on the bitter day we visited. Still it was pretty sparse accommodations.

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