Dedicated volunteers make adopting purebred dogs easier than ever

Choosing a pet that’s perfect for your family is not always the easiest decision to make.

Many people wish to save the life of an unwanted pet by adopting from a shelter, while others prefer a purebred animal or at least desire the expertise a breeder can provide.

Photo by Isabel Menzel/Special to the Independent.

Photo by Isabel Menzel/Special to the Independent.

One non-profit shelter wants to provide potential dog owners with the best of both worlds.

In the U.S., approximately 800 pets are euthanized each hour. The issue stems from over breeding and the common misconception that breeders are the most convenient, or only option for someone looking for a specific breed.

It is a mentality that many relentless animal activists and volunteers around the country are working to change. They are creating new solutions to make it possible for anyone to adopt their breed of choice.

Cindy Smith, a pilot and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Wings of Rescue, has made a significant impact for animals in southern California. Her organization flies dogs and cats from crowded kill shelters in the Los Angeles area to both breed-specific and mixed breed rescue organizations across the country.

“There’s a need for pets up in the Pacific Northwest and in the past it’s been solely ground transport, which can be a very grueling 18-plus hours for animals. So when the rescue was born, Yehuda Netanel, the founder, and I started off with one plane flying pets from the Los Angeles into Oregon, Washington and Idaho,” Ms. Smith said.

The organization began in 2010 and through countless volunteer hours and donations, now transports approximately 7,000 animals per year.

The group has also provided animals to rescue shelters throughout the world.
“We do fly a lot into Bellingham in Washington and we work with several Canadian rescues. They just drive in across the border and pick up the pups,” Ms. Smith said.

P.E.T.S. LLC (Peterson Express Transport Service) is another organization that has become involved in re-locating animals destined you be euthanized in shelters. The organization, owned by Pam and Kyle Peterson, began in Tennessee in 2000. Since then they have transported thousands of animals from Southeast states including Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia, to rescue organization locations in the New England area.

Their service also offers an effective option for adopters interested in a specific shelter dog from another state.

“We work with rescues; we don’t work with breeders or pet stores or anything like that. Our transport area is limited to certain states,” Kyle Peterson said. “We can do a private transport to anyone in the country but that can get expensive, but our regular transport is limited to the routes that we run that is posted on our website.”

Adopting an animal from a breed-specific rescue offers a variety of advantages. Volunteers in most pure-bred rescues are knowledgeable about the breed and ensure all animals are neutered or spayed, checked for health problems and updated on shots.

Adopting from a rescue shelter can also be more affordable than purchasing from a breeder. Shelter and vaccination fees are often lower when adopting an animal in a shelter vs. purchasing from a breeder or store.

Because most rescues place their animals in foster homes before they are adopted, volunteers can provide intimate details of the animal’s personality and temperament, allowing for an easier home placement and higher adoption success rate.

Some rescue volunteers will take their dedication one step further and even transport an animal out of state to its new home. Barbara Barnes, who ran the Southern Arizona Boxer Rescue for 19 years, was one of those individuals.

“I have placed animals out of state, but I have never shipped them in an airplane. If someone I know and trust has done a home visit in a different state I have done it. I’ve transported the animal myself by car,” Ms. Barnes said.

Gail Chadwick, who manages the Arizona Border Collie Rescue, has frequently adopted animals to surrounding states.

“We have adopted dogs to people as far away as Canada, but we always require them to come in-state and meet the dogs. For a lot of people it’s their strong desire to rescue a homeless dog,” Ms. Chadwick said.

“When they don’t see what they are looking for on our website, we encourage them to apply and go through the application process and get approved, so when a dog comes in that they are interested in, we will contact them to arrange a meeting,” Ms. Chadwick said.

Ms. Chadwick also stressed that many new dog owners don’t understand the burden of raising a puppy when they are living busy lives, and adopting an older shelter dog is typically a much easier transition — for both the owner and animal.

“A lot of people just aren’t in the position to raise a puppy because they work long hours. Many are looking for a dog that’s past the puppy stage, which is great because it’s really not appropriate to leave a puppy in a crate for 10 hours a day,” Ms. Chadwick said. “In that case it’s better to get a dog a bit older that can handle being in a crate.”

Shelters also frequently receive purebred dogs. Nearly 30 percent of shelter dogs are purebred. Most shelters will display their available dogs on their website to help accommodate anyone looking to adopt a specific breed.

Editor’s note: Isabel Menzel is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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