Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dew, the Black Lab

Dew arrived at the NNHS shelter in 2006. Aside from being moved from one cage to another when the staff cleaned in the mornings, he rarely got to go outside on a leash. Yet his spirit never waned. Did he know that someone, somewhere would rescue him? Was it possible when there are thousands of black Labs put down every day in shelters all across the country?

A rescue organization in Bloomingburg, New York heard the plea and hit the ground running … to save some Labs … Labs they didn't know … in a part of the country they'd never visited. After putting some of our black Labs on their website, an adopter contacted them about Dew. An adoption application was carefully reviewed in Maryville and in New York and approved. Dew had a home! Now, how on earth would Dew get to New York?

After a lot of research and hard work, an NNHS rescue volunteer had the good fortune to meet Stephanie on line. Stephanie lives in California and is a certified Over the Road Animal Transit driver. En route to vacation in Massachusetts, she decided to save some dogs along the way. When she showed up at the NNHS shelter, she spent a considerable amount of time with Dew, the lucky dog she decided would accompany her on to New York. Do these kinds of things really happen? Are there really kind-hearted people in this world who will commit to saving one dog? You betcha!

From their pet-friendly hotel room the first night (a Ramada Inn, no less), she wrote: "My favorite part of the night was when Dew discovered his own reflection! I had so much fun watching him. There was a small stepstool/ottoman that I placed in front of the bureau and he learned how to step up on it to get higher up to see his reflection…. He's VERY smart.”

Those of us who loved Dew at the shelter always knew he had potential. He is pictured below in his new home with his new Dad. Way to go, Dew!


Connie Rides Shotgun to New York

An eight-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Connie, and her owner were inseparable. Yep. She was spoiled and treated like a baby. Even when her elderly owner became quite ill, Connie never left his side. He needed her there, and that's where she was determined to stay – steadfast to the end. Her owner asked Michelle (his caretaker) to make sure that Connie was well cared for when he passed. Michelle tried hard to fulfill the commitment she made. But, when it became impossible for her, she brought Connie to the NNHS shelter.

Connie became a top priority for the Rescue Team. No one could ever replace her former owner, but someone would surely see the love in her heart and the sparkle in her eyes; she still had so much to give.
It took three months to find a rescue willing to help. Finally, Vicki in Pennsylvania responded that they had a foster home for Connie. Fantastic news! Now, how could Connie get to the east coast?

Trucker Tom, known far and wide among rescue organizations from Colorado to New Jersey, for his willingness to transport dogs to safety in his 18-wheeler. Tom's a certified Operation Roger transporter and a skilled dog handler. Long story short, you had to be there to see Connie sitting next to Tom in the passenger seat as they pulled out – north bound and down to Pennsylvania.

Connie (on the left) is pictured here with her new owner, Susan, and her best friend, “Marshall”. THIS IS WHAT RESCUE IS ALL ABOUT!

How It Works

Take one homeless animal.
Stir in a kind-hearted shelter worker.
Gently add one caring rescue person,
A tired transport coordinator,
And a tireless transport driver;
And what do you get?
Another animal saved!

The NNHS shelter is always overcrowded with abused, neglected and abandoned animals. Until such time as spay and neuter become law in towns, cities and rural areas throughout Missouri and nationwide, the situation isn’t likely to change. As the New Nodaway Humane Society’s Board of Directors struggles to remain financially solvent, adoption and rescue are the only two options for maintaining the shelter's low-kill status in rural northwest Missouri. When adoption does not provide enough homes for the many animals that come into the shelter each month, we turn to rescue for a helping hand.

Step 1 – Find a Rescue Organization
After a great deal of research and lots of emails, we have been fortunate to work with some of the best rescues in the country. Often, there’s more of a demand for our dogs and cats in other parts of the country than there is here in Nodaway County. Thousands of emails have been sent to rescue organizations over the past three years. Fortunately, many of those groups have responded to our pleas for help.

Step 2 – Testing, Taking Additional Pictures and Scheduling Vetting
Before arrangements can be made for transporting shelter animals, a Rescue Checklist is prepared for the shelter staff. Vetting often includes spay/neuter, a rabies vaccine (always required when transporting across state lines), a heartworm test and preventative for dogs and a FIV/FeLK test for cats. Appointments are made with our local veterinarians, and the paper trail to rescue begins.

Since those who work for rescue organizations cannot see the animals in person, we are often asked to re-visit the shelter to take additional pictures. Dogs in particular must be social and get along with other dogs, our team often does extensive testing for dog-aggression, food-aggression and other potential behavioral issues. Dogs are walked through the main cat room to determine whether they are cat-friendly.

There can be no surprises when one of our animals arrives at rescue and is placed in a foster home (or, in some case, a new adoptive home) where the family may have pets of their own.

Step 3 – Setting up a Transport and Recruiting Volunteer Drivers
Shelter dogs and cats from Maryville have been transported in two-hour segments, leg-by-leg, to rescue organizations in Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and New York. It’s a formidable effort that requires full-time oversight. We are blessed to have a professional transport coordinator who performs miracles almost every week by getting shelter animals to rescue.

Words do not adequately reflect the magnitude of a large transport. Until you have been involved in one, it’s quite difficult to explain the bond between drivers and rescue animals and the between the coordinator and her merry band of highly experienced volunteer drivers. Each driver travels with water, water bowls, the occasional dog treat, paper towels, wipes for accidents, and extra collars and leashes. They are prepared. Many have encountered long delays due to inclement weather, accidents on the interstates or when a driver is running behind schedule due to a flat tire or other vehicle emergency. They are experts at what they do, and they take their responsibilities very seriously.

Step 4 – The Transport
On the day of transport, Maryville drivers must arrive at the shelter early enough to exercise the dogs, offer them water, and get them loaded. A shelter staffer meets the driver(s) at the shelter – quite often before the crack of dawn – to assist. Each dog travels with an envelope that has its picture on the cover. The paperwork includes the shelter-to-rescue paperwork, the shelter vetting on that particular dog, a Rabies tag, and a health certificate.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Pete and Bubba

When the only home Bubba and Pete had ever known was torn apart by their owner's death, their lives fell apart. As if coping with the sudden loss wasn't traumatic enough, the duo found themselves shut in a shelter cage surrounded by strangers. Pete, a normally happy-go-lucky eight-year-old Pug was horrified. But he knew somehow Bubba would take care of him as he had for the past several years. And Bubba did!

Little did anyone know that hope and help were nearby for the big guy and his little sidekick. One of the shelter's rescue volunteers immediately contacted a rescue organization in Kansas City. Within hours of learning of their dilemma, this top-notch rescue made a commitment to Bubba and Pete. The following weekend, both dogs were transported to a foster home near Kansas City – together! But for how long?

Fortunately, Molly and Darrell, a retired couple from Georgia, fell in love with the twosome immediately and adopted both. THIS IS WHAT RESCUE IS ALL ABOUT!

Rescue Team

Since 2006, a three-member rescue team, operating in conjunction with NNHS Shelter staff, has worked day and night to place the shelter's urgent dogs and cats with well-researched rescue organizations.

In the past three years nearly 400 dogs and cats from the NNHS shelter have been transported in two-hour segments, leg-by-leg, to top-notch rescue organizations in Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and New York. It's a huge undertaking for three Maryville volunteers who believe that saving one animal makes a difference – especially to that one animal. It couldn't be done without the hard work and cooperation of an amazing shelter staff (Cindy, Sue, Kim, Barb, Jelyna) charged with getting the dogs vetted and ensuring they are healthy for travel. Obviously, n
one of this would be possible without the financial donations
we receive from a handful of kind-hearted contributors. They know who they are and what their contributions mean to our effort. THANK YOU!

Team Members:

Although Sharon has a full-time job and has pets of her own, she spends her “free” time researching rescues throughout the country to make sure they are no-kill facilities and “worthy” of the dogs and cats we have come to love at the NNHS Animal Shelter. Once the research has been completed, Sharon spends her weekends and evenings asking these organizations to consider pulling dogs and cats from our shelter and into their rescue programs. Through Sharon’s tireless efforts, we have been blessed to work with some of the finest rescues in the country.

Not only does D’Ann work non-stop to physically get shelter dogs and cats to rescue, she has also volunteered to take each animal’s picture when they arrive at the shelter so they can be placed on the NNHS website. She is our “dog whisperer” – the one who, after spending a relatively short amount of time with an animal, feels its frustration and fear. Rescues want to know everything possible about our dogs and cats before they agree to pull them from the shelter. D’Ann spends hours testing the dogs, taking additional pictures, and then actually transporting the shelter’s seemingly difficult-to-adopt animals on the first leg of their journey to a new life.

Working as a liaison with the shelter staff, Marlene coordinates with rescuing organizations to ensure the dogs and cats they take from our shelter are what they expect. She assists with testing – both cats and dogs -- and provides the shelter staff with information for the shelter-to-rescue transfer paperwork required by Missouri State Law. Marlene maintains the NNHS website ( and is also the founder and coordinator of the shelter’s Buddy Program (see link to Buddy Program to the left).


About Rescue

Our operation is a grassroots effort to find safe, loving homes for dozens of pets residing in cages at the New Nodaway Humane Society (NNHS) Animal Shelter. Although we strive to find homes for these animals via local adoption, it is also necessary to rely on rescue in order to save the lives of as many of these animals as possible. We're proud of our low-kill status at the shelter!

The rescue process can be quite complex and challenging. It begins with finding a rescue organization in another area (we’ve placed animals with organizations as far away as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Colorado) where there is a demand for one or more of our animals. Next, the animals are given shots and routine medical care, including spaying or neutering, and are tested for aggressivity or other behavioral issues. Additional photos may be required to share with potential adopters.

Finally, a transport must be organized. For longer transports, this may involve as many as six to ten trained volunteer drivers who each complete 1 1/2- to 2-hour legs along the route. A wonderful coordinator sets up these transports "in her free time". The level of responsibility and dedication required of drivers to make the transports successful is intense. Most have full-time jobs and are willing to give up their weekends (and their hard-earned gas money) to get OUR animals to safety. However, the payoff is the sort of inspiring stories shared on this blog—of animals previously seen as misfits or throwaways who are able to find new homes where they are treasured as members of the family.

Enjoy the stories, and if you’d like to help facilitate our efforts, please email me or check out my “Get Involved” post. Thanks for visiting!