Alabama Dogs Get Good Homes in American Northeast
What wonderful people, all of them! Big barks to all the volunteers and adopters! And big barks to PetSmart Charities! I'm off to buy some dog treats right now!
Thanks to Boston.com for this article.
Dogs in South escape death thanks to friends in other regions
By Kate Brumback
Associated Press Writer / January 19, 2008
COLUMBIANA, Ala.With excited barking filling the chilly morning air, about 30 dogs frolicked in outdoor pens, jumping, playing and nipping at each other -- blissfully unaware they were escaping almost certain death, thanks to newfound friends in New Hampshire.
The homeless mutts at the Shelby Humane Society in central Alabama were set to travel by van on a 20-hour journey to a new life in the care of New Englanders seeking a furry, four-legged companion.
It's a trip being taken by thousands of other dogs around the country -- from areas, like the Southeast, where there is an overpopulation of dogs, to communities like those in New Hampshire, where homeless dogs are scarce and some residents are on waiting lists to adopt.
The explosion of stray or unwanted dogs in Alabama "has reached a volume that's almost unmanageable," said Ronda Steciuk, executive director of the Shelby Humane Society.
While no state mandates that dogs be spayed or neutered, some like New Hampshire have managed the canine population through strict leash and licensing laws and consistent enforcement of those laws, as well as measures to make sterilization affordable and easily accessible, Steciuk said.
In other areas like Alabama and the Southeast, she said, leash and licensing laws either don't exist or aren't enforced, and there are few incentives to sterilize pets. As a result, many people in the region don't have their animals fixed and allow them to run free, causing the puppy population to explode.
The Shelby Humane Society alone euthanizes more than 3,000 animals a year, including healthy dogs and puppies.
To reduce that number, the Shelter Partners program was launched, like similar dog rescue operations elsewhere. The PetSmart Charities' program, called "Rescue Waggin'", says it has moved nearly 19,000 dogs in four years from overpopulated areas to potential new homes.
The Shelby Humane Society made its first shipment of dogs to New Hampshire in November 2006. It has sent two or three shipments a month since then, with vans leaving whenever enough donations have come in and a pair of drivers is available. Each shipment generally has between 15 and 30 dogs.
The trips up north cost about $700 apiece -- for gas, lodging and meals -- and are funded entirely by donations made specifically to the Shelter Partners program. Steciuk said she tries to send those dogs that have been in the Shelby shelter the longest. By mid-January, 779 dogs had relocated from Shelby County, mainly to New Hampshire.
"We have far exceeded what we thought we would be able to do given that we were not willing to pull funding from anything else," Steciuk said.
The trips, which generally take between 20 and 24 hours each way, require volunteers with intense dedication. They try not to stop overnight on the way to New Hampshire because the dogs can't be left in the van.