November 2, 1997 in Features

Animals Fortunate Rescue Groups Exist

Mary Sagal Correspondent
 

(From For the Record, November 6, 1997:)

Vet costs paid: The Tonka Fund pays for all veterinary costs of dogs assisted by the Pet Rescue organization. Donations can be sent to Pet Rescue, P.O. Box 924, Otis Orchards, Wash., 99027. A story in Sunday’s In Life section incorrectly reported the type of help the fund provides and where the money could be donated.

Their courage is daunting.

The emotional and financial price they pay is awe-inspiring.

They are pet rescue groups, small armies of dedicated volunteers who clean up after the saddest, and most shameful, aspect of America’s consumer culture - discarded pets.

To help dogs, they go at least weekly into animal shelters, places even the most fanatic dog lovers have difficulty entering because they are so spiritually draining.

They open their homes as refuge sites, fostering dogs that have been discarded, neglected, abused, tortured or abandoned.

They rehabilitate the dogs, then search ceaselessly for an appropriate new home for them. They give the dogs a second chance at finding a happy life, at connecting with a person who deserves the title “human being.”

“You cry a lot of happy tears,” said Vicki Eckert, director of Pet Rescue in Spokane. “But you keep in mind that if you find a good home for this one, you can rescue another.”

Throughout the Inland Northwest, dog rescue groups work diligently and silently. Their efforts and sacrifice go unnoticed by most, but recently one Spokane group received national recognition.

“We were awarded a humanitarian award from the PetSmart stores for the rescue work that we do,” said Robin Kennedy, vice president of Partners for Pets. Kennedy also serves as the fox terrier rescue coordinator for Washington state.

Were it not for the efforts of rescue groups like Partners for Pets, Pet Rescue, the Animal Rescue Coalition and Ritzville (Wash.) Pet Rescue, more dead dogs would fill the euthanasia rooms at area animal shelters. Volunteers with these organizations comb shelters weekly for adoptable dogs, or rescue them from bad homes.

“Going to the shelters is hard, it’s like playing God,” Eckert said. “You have to pick and choose who will live, and who won’t.”

Volunteers usually check shelters the day before euthanasia is scheduled. Of the dogs marked to die, volunteers rescue as many as there are foster homes available. The shelters, in return, give the groups a discounted adoption price.

Some area veterinarians also help rescue groups. They offer the organizations discounted spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, teeth cleaning, microchips and any other medical care a dog may need.

All dogs available for adoption by local rescue groups have been spayed or neutered. They have been vaccinated. Most groups also have each dog’s teeth cleaned, and a microchip inserted under the skin for identification.

The dogs are usually licensed and have had a temperament evaluation. Most come with a health guarantee.

On average, it costs about $70 to adopt a dog from a rescue group. If the arrangement doesn’t work out, rescue groups will take the dog back.

Rescue groups are nonprofit. The fee they charge for adopting a dog simply covers its medical and licensing costs.

The volunteers who foster the dogs pay out of their own pockets for much of each dog’s general upkeep while it waits to be adopted.

In sharp contrast, pet stores do not guarantee the health of their dogs. They can’t. They don’t know which inhumane puppy mill any given dog has come from.

Back-yard breeders don’t offer the guarantee because they don’t want the puppies they sell to come back, ever. That would decrease their profit margin.

Yet both pet stores and back-yard breeders each charge hundreds of dollars for a purebred dog.

“Easily 40 percent of the dogs we rescue are purebred,” Kennedy said. “The shelters are full of them.”

But adopting a dog from a pet rescue group is not as easy as writing a check. That’s because the volunteers who foster the dogs care deeply about what happens to them.

Those who adopt a dog from a rescue group must sign a contract legally binding them to provide a fenced yard (and possibly have it inspected by a volunteer), make the dog a family member, care for any future medical conditions and return the dog to the rescue group if the arrangement doesn’t work out, among other stipulations.

Rescue groups, like animal shelters, would like nothing more than to be out of business. If dog owners would have their dogs spayed and neutered, if they understood that owning a dog is a 10- to 16-year commitment - 3,650 to 5,840 days of walking the dog, playing with it, training it, taking it to the vet, grooming it, feeding it and cleaning up after it - the wish would come true.

Then Eckert wouldn’t have to tell Tuffy’s story to illustrate a sad point - what happens when the human race loses its self respect, and its respect for other life on the planet.

“Tuffy, a schnauzer, came to my home as a foster dog with a broken leg, but is here to stay,” Eckert said. “The dog was thrown out of a moving car on I-90.”

Helping Out

All pet rescue groups need donations to pay for preparing dogs they rescue for adoption. They are always looking for new foster homes. Some of the organizations listed below also rescue cats, horses and other pets.

Animal Rescue Coalition, 11108 E. Grace, Spokane, WA 99206; or call 928-9119 or 927-1099

Partners for Pets, P.O. Box 364, Liberty Lake, WA 99019; or call 327-9514. Dogs available for adoption can be seen at Petsmart in the Valley on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pet Rescue, P.O. Box 924 Otis Orchards, WA 99027; or call 921-0178 or 325-9273. In addition to general donations accepted at the above address, a special Tonka Fund has been started to help cover the medical costs of dogs with epilepsy. Donations to that fund can be made at Seafirst Bank.

Ritzville Pet Rescue, 1986 E. Harder Road, Ritzville, WA 99169; or call 659-0962.

Pet Savers (cats only at this point), P.O. Box 14439 Spokane, WA 99214; or call 921-9359.

Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, P.O. Box 3523, Redmond, WA 98073-3523; or call (425) 654-1117.

The following is a list of Spokane-area dog enthusiasts - endorsed by Partners for Pets - who help rescue specific breeds of dogs. For breeds not included here, contact Robin Kennedy at 327-9514.

Dalmatian rescue - 927-0736 or 922-6647

Rottweiler rescue - (208) 263-1464

Shar-Pei rescue - 467-0937

Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky rescue - 258-7186

Golden Retriever rescue - 238-2008

Doberman Pinscher rescue - 325-0261

Collie rescue - 226-3814

Cairn Terrier rescue - (208) 623-2333

Fox Terrier rescue - 327-9514

Beagle rescue - 826-4687

Boxer rescue - 226-0288

Greyhound rescue - 927-8002 or 921-5584

Australian shepherd rescue - (208) 772-2989

Did We Miss Someone?

Was your rescue group missing from this story? Send the organization’s name, address, phone number and a mission statement to the address listed at the bottom of the Dog Calendar. Your information will be listed in this column in December.

, DataTimes MEMO: About Dogs appears the first Sunday of each month. Mary Sagal is a member of the Dog Writers’ Association of America.

About Dogs appears the first Sunday of each month. Mary Sagal is a member of the Dog Writers’ Association of America.

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