Thanks to the Nashua Telegraph.com for this article.
Dogs spared from likely death in Alabama find local homes
By STEPHANIE HOOPER, Telegraph Staff
Ears down and tail wagging, the brown, medium-size shorthaired dog responded to Laura Lemieuxs bear hug by giving her a wet kiss on the nose.
Oh, you are so sweet,” Lemieux said, charmed by the dogs submissive response to what some dogs would interpret as a threat.
Sheba, one of 20 dogs that arrived at the Humane Society for Greater Nashua from Alabama on Friday morning, was in the process of passing Lemieuxs behavioral evaluation with flying colors.
She is exactly what we want,” said Lemieux, a longtime veterinarian tech for the shelter.
Sheba did so well, she is what animal care Director Tammy DeVito calls bombproof,” describing that as a dog that responds to a variety of human interaction appropriately with no display of aggression.
I would feel good placing her with anyone,” DeVito said of the 3-year-old mixed breed.
The Ferry Street shelter, which also serves as Nashuas pound, was the feel good” place on Friday.
Even the dogs, with their brand new Life is Good” collars, were feeling it, because for these dogs, life was good. Very good.
The dogs arrival in New Hampshire was part of an arrangement between the Nashua shelter and the Humane Society of Shelby County, where the outlook for dogs such as Sheba was pretty bleak.
Before she charmed herself a spot on a van to Nashua, Sheba, a stray that came to the overcrowded Alabama shelter in December, had an even chance of being put down.
In fact of the 4,147 dogs that arrived at that shelter in 2005, more than half 2,385 were euthanized.
That reality prompted Shelby humane society Executive Director Ronda Mink Steciuk to seek a way to save a few good dogs from that end.
Looking at the big picture, I wanted to do what I could to reduce the kill rate,” Steciuk said of her goal since taking on the job late last year.
Aware of the transport option, Steciuk looked around at various states, ultimately finding a demand for dogs in New Hampshire.
Since November, 147 dogs, including the 20 that arrived Friday, have been shipped to various shelters in New Hampshire, where most are adopted within weeks of their arrival.
I realize this is not going to fix the problem,” said Steciuk, who said she uses the publicity of the transports to promote the need for Shelby County pet owners to spay and neuter their pets.
Lax rules regarding pet licensing and ownership in Shelby County tend to feed the problem there, she said, as do the 24 dog drop pens” at the shelter.
With no questions asked, pet owners use the pens to drop off unwanted animals.
Sometimes I will come to work and the pens will be full, with more than one dog in a run,” said Steciuk, who is working to eliminate the pens as part of her campaign for responsible pet ownership.
There is nothing like having to look somebody in the eye when you are giving up your dog for no reason.”
Steciuk credits New Hampshires strict animal ownership laws and shelter policies with the states low number of shelter dogs.
In fact, as part of the agreement to take the Alabama dogs, the Nashua shelter required each dog to be spayed or neutered, have vaccinations and microchips, and be tested for any behavioral issues prior to shipping.
The shelter maintains a list of people who are just waiting for the right dog, many of whom have already been alerted to the dogs arrival.
This is just so exciting because we have been working on this for months,” said Executive Director Karen Bill, who dressed down on Friday in order to play with some of her new guests.
The dogs arrived by van at 8:30 that morning, driven in by Ashland, Ala., residents Noah and Inell Davis Sr.
The couple volunteered to drive all the dogs to the shelter on their way to celebrate Easter with their son who lives in Nashua.
After arrival, eager shelter staff transferred the dogs, half a year or older and the rest younger than a year, to their waiting pens before taking them outside for some badly needed exercise.
Most of the Southern dogs didnt know what to make of the snow.
They didnt know what it was,” DeVito said.
They walked on the cement fine, and then they hit the snow and just stopped.”
By late afternoon, the dogs in the outside pens were frolicking in the white stuff, while the rest played with balls, blankets and each other in the inside cages.
The dogs, with names such as Sweet Pea, Luke, Scarlett and Shady, appeared to be extra friendly, pressing their faces up to the chain link to get a scratch from a willing staff member.
Although all the dogs were tested for behavioral issues before leaving Alabama, Devito and Lemieux spent a good part of the day evaluating the dogs themselves, a last step before the dogs are ready for adoption.