On March 4, 2013, the Humane Society of Flower Mound (HSFM) put three dogs on a truck bound for Dewitt, NY. It was the beginning of an innovative new program that will send dogs to partner organizations in other parts of the United States where adoptable dogs are in short supply. The first transport was so successful, that another six dogs left Texas bound for New York yesterday.
“Love on Wheels” takes dogs facing euthanasia from shelters in the DFW area and sends them to rescue organizations in the northeast such as New York, where effective spay/neuter and education programs have resulted in adopters being placed on waiting lists to find available rescued dogs.
“It’s a little surreal to those of us in Texas who see hundreds of dogs in shelters every week with no place to go, to think that there are places where people want to adopt but can’t find dogs,” said Stacy Smith, Vice President of Animal Advocacy for HSFM. “When we realized we could save them if we could just get them to where the adopters are, we knew this was something we had to do.”
A year of careful planning and thought has gone into the program to ensure that HSFM partners with reputable organizations that share its philosophy and standards, said Smith. “We are personally visiting each receiving organization before we send them dogs, gathering information about their adoption process and requirements, and getting to know them to make sure these dogs will be placed in the same quality of home that we would expect of our adopters here.”
The first such organization to sign on is Helping Hounds Dog Rescue of Dewitt, NY. Volunteers were there to greet the first group of dogs–Lucky, Prius, and Skye–when they arrived on March 10, 2013. Prius, a shepherd mix who had been at the Wise County Animal Shelter for weeks before being accepted into the program, was adopted that day. Smith said that was possible due to input from a foster home in Texas who housed Prius for two weeks before her trip. “Our foster homes are a key part of the success of the program,” she said. “Foster homes allows us to ensure the dogs are healthy and ready to make the trip, but more importantly, they provide important information to the receiving organization about the dogs’ personalities, which lets them start looking for adopters before the dogs even arrive.”
The second set of dogs includes Carrie, Smokey, Sugar Bear, Bandit, River, and Sally. Two are from The Colony Animal Shelter, two from Collin County Animal Serices, one from the Joshua Animal Shelter, and one who came here originally from a shelter in Missouri.
HSFM expects to save an additional 20 dogs per month by mid-year through Love on Wheels, using the services of professional transporters like Dog Runner Pet Transport, who take great care in the handling and comfort of the dogs on the long trip. However, the program is not without cost: each dog costs HSFM approximately $150, which the organization will not recoup in adoption fees. Smith said the financial support of the community will be vital to sustain Love on Wheels.
The next transport leaves Texas April 7th with twelve lucky dogs on board.
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