2013-03-27 / Columnists
Pets pets pets
We may have gotten a latenight pizza or Chinese food delivery at Last Hope, but until last week, we never received an evening drop-off of dogs, driven directly from West Virginia by their rescuers. Doorto door service is definitely a novel transport experience.
All dogs at the Last Hope Adoption Center in Wantagh are either from LI town shelters or from overcrowded shelters/rescues in Kentucky, Virginia or West Virginia. Despite harsh treatment, starvation or abandonment, these out-of-state, incredibly socialized dogs do not stand a chance in their home state but they are highly adoptable here. Often they have adoption applications within days of arriving on LI.
Typical Transport: Most out-ofstate transports run like a multi-stop relay. We pick up designated dogs at a stop along the route in NJ, CT or Westchester. I coordinate the WV transports. Our rendezvous point is usually Haskell, NJ which is near Hackensack, a perfect refueling spot. It’s the home of White Manna, a burger joint, half the size of All American. White Manna has a line out the door because of delicious sliders and shakes.
Two of the WV rescue partners do not have county shelters, so dogs taken by the animal control officer are either put down right away or sent to the neighboring pound which is already overflowing with dogs. In impoverished, rural areas, people haven’t absorbed the message about the importance of pet spay/neuter so plenty of litters are born; whereas, in the NY metropolitan region and other urban areas, except for unscrupulous people pumping out puppy mill litters of tiny breeds, only Pit Bulls and Pit mixes are still rampantly bred.
These WV dedicated rescue volunteers rely on precious foster homes. Often the dogs are kenneled outdoors with insulated doghouses while in foster care. WV winters are very harsh. Many have been saved from neglect or life on a chain. There are few responsible homes in the area, so the sooner Northeast humane groups commit to taking them, the faster more WV dogs in need can take their place.
When you are part of a long distance rescue transport network, you get to know the faraway shelter workers and rescue volunteers quite well via email and phone. You see volunteers who drive individual legs of the dogs’ journey to the Northeast. However, the sending folks, responsible for saving the dogs, and the receiving folks, who will ultimately find the forever homes, don’t get to meet each other.
Special Delivery: Well, not until Carol Hutchison from Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter (PAWS) in Franklin, WV offered to trek a trio of pups plus a last-minute add-on dog last Tuesday all by herself. Since Plans B, C and D were too uncertain, Carol, a transplanted vet tech from NJ, felt the addition of the fourth dog from a horrific situation and getting the foster pups out of the cold made the long, solo trip well worth it. Plus, we’d finally get to meet. Before leaving, she coaxed Jane Seegar, PAWS president, to accompany her as a co-pilot. They wouldn’t have all the pooch passengers loaded until noon, so the midnight express to Last Hope was a “go.”
“The best laid plans of mice n’ men oft go awry.” The immortal words of poet Robert Burns apply to transports too. Originally Carol was supposed to drive a cat transport to North Shore Animal League with the Last Hope pups tagging along. The trip was postponed a day because of another snowstorm in WV, and then the transmission on the PAWS van broke again. A Virginia SPCA vehicle was going to bring the kittens on March 26 but there was no room for the dogs unless we rented them a bigger truck. We then tried to get the dogs on a KY transport that regularly sends dogs to Last Hope but there were already hitchers on stand-by.
The PAWS rescue van has racked up a zillion miles in the WV mountains and beyond because Carol also does outreach to improve the quality of life for WV dogs and cats by visiting people with outdoor pets and offering to neuter and vet them at no charge. Dog diplomacy is essential. At times she can convince owners to surrender neglected pets. “Poncho, Polo and Pansy,” slated to come to Last Hope, were from a litter of six-month-old Border Collie mix puppies that had spent their whole life in a cramped, filthy outdoor pen. The wife stopped feeding them during a nasty divorce. “Keegan” the addon Wirehaired Fox Terrier mix spent years on a chain. All six chained dogs in his yard were signed over to PAWS after the dogs went without food for 11 days when the owner went to jail. They were in boarding now which can be very expensive to rescue.
Crazy Keypad: A night shift volunteer called to say the Last Hope keypad was sticking (it’s punched several hundred times a day), so she waited for us to get there. Can you imagine if our WV visitors drove all the way and we couldn’t get in the front door? Throughout the 350-mile ride, Carol and Jane checked in. At one point the GPS said their ETA was around midnight, but they made better time, getting to Last Hope at 10:30 p.m.
Carol and Jane carried the pups into their temporary haven because they had never been on a leash. After a midnight snack, we tucked them in. Last Hope volunteer/ gracious hostess Sue Butz joined us to do paperwork and then escorted the ladies to her nearby home for a sleepover. We stuffed their SUV with collars and harnesses for PAWS (www.pendletonpawswv.org). In a day the pups had mastered Leash 101; by the weekend all four had adoptions pending. “It’s a good thing we didn’t wait until the 26th,” emailed Carol, “we got nine more inches of snow last night.” Poncho and Polo would have still been housed outdoors.
For Adoption from Babylon Town Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Sarge” #13-152, a Keeshond/Elkhound fellow has “matinee idol” eyes. Or else, he borrowed tinted contacts from a Siberian Husky. “Tiger” #3-47 is lounging in his cushy bed in a lobby cage. He’d really rather be lounging in a cushy bed at YOUR house.