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Lady finds the tramps a home

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WORLD Radio - Lady finds the tramps a home

A dog rescue group moves canines from overcrowded shelters in the South to places up North where demand for rescue dogs is high


Photo by Myrna Brown

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 11th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A new approach to an old problem!

Four out of ten households in this country have a dog. Myrna, you and I are dog lovers, too! In fact, I have three pups!

BROWN: Mary, were any of them shelter dogs?

REICHARD: Oh, yes!

BROWN: Well, that’s good. Because on average, 390,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters every year. But a rescue group I recently visited is trying to change that, one pup at a time.

REICHARD: Can’t wait to hear about this!

SOUND: [HEAVY PANTING]

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: Three year old buddy is a black lab with tons of energy.

SOUND: [PITTER PATTER OF PAWS]

Half his size and running across astroturf, about a dozen Dachshunds, curious…

SOUND: [SNIFFING MICROPHONE]

and cautious…

SOUND: [BARKING]

And just delivered in crates…

SOUND: [WHIMPERING]

…with tiny eyes still sealed shut, puppies resting one on top of the other.

AUDIO: It’s ok…. [WHIMPERING]

This is Big Dog Ranch Rescue of Alabama. A last chance, quarantine hub for dogs. The ranch is a transfer or stop over point before unwanted dogs reach their final destination, a forever home.

LORI ALLEN: We take in dogs from high-kill shelters that are on their last days, typically on a euthanization list.

That’s Lori Allen, blonde, petite and wearing a hoodie and a walkie-talkie on her hip. She’s the operations manager.

ALLEN: So this over here is our medical building…here we have our pharmacy in there…so this is our triage area…so this is where we put our sick dogs…and these are individual quarantine rooms. Each room has its own AC unit, so no two rooms are sharing the same air. They all have their own play yards and they all have their small rooms that they live in.

Sixteen, wooden, ranch-style buildings in all. Since Big Dog Ranch Rescue opened a little over a year ago, Allen has probably seen every dog that spends on average about two months at this 100-acre site.

ALLEN: We can take in 20 or 30 puppies, 20 or 30 adult dogs at one time that are just found roaming the streets.

Specifically streets from states across the Southeast.

ALLEN: This building is sponsored by a group out of South Carolina. These two buildings are more for our Alabama dogs. She came in from a shelter in Georgia….so these guys came in from Texas.

To understand why there are too many shelter dogs in the South and too few in the North, I called up Allen’s boss, the woman who founded Big Dog Ranch Rescue of Florida in 2006.

LAUREE SIMMONS: Went to pick up my first dog at a Miami-Dade kill shelter and at that point I had no idea how many innocent and adoptable dogs were being euthanized in shelters just because shelters had no space, they were overcrowded and I vowed that day to do something about it.

Lauree Simmons works in construction and interior design. But her passion is saving shelter dogs from being euthanized. She can’t prove it, but she believes climate is the biggest reason the South has an overabundance of shelter dogs.

SIMMONS: With the weather and the freezing in the Northeast and the Northwest and parts of the West, it’s not conducive to dogs that are abandoned and live outside, and get pregnant and have puppies, they’re not going to survive the winters in that climate.

Warmer temperatures equal a longer mating season and many communities in the south don’t have low-cost spay and neuter clinics. That’s why both Big Dog Ranch Rescue locations provide spaying, neutering, vaccines, microchipping and socialization training. And every two to three weeks the rehabilitated dogs are safely transported from the dog hubs in Florida and Alabama to forever homes in the North.

RHONDA ANDERSON: It’s like a tour bus.

That’s 51-year-old Rhonda Anderson on the other line.

ANDERSON: I live in Northampton, Pennsylvania

SOUND: [SIR EARL THE SCHNAUZER]

And she’s a Schnauzer lover. Meet Sir Earl, her miniature Schnauzer.

ANDERSON: My favorite thing about Schnauzers is they’re known to have bushy brows and beards. Cause I can walk down the street and men will say, wow, his beard is nicer than mine.

Anderson says she tried for months to adopt a dog from her local humane society, but no one ever returned her calls or emails. After an immediate response from Big Dog Ranch Rescue, she drove two hours to New York to meet the rescue group’s big bus. On board, Sir Earl and dozens of other shelter dogs from the South.

ANDERSON: And I just felt blessed that there’s people that are willing to drive the animal to you.

But how does Big Dog Ranch Rescue handle dogs that are unadoptable, challenging and too aggressive for average family’s like Anderson’s? Lauree Simmons:

SIMMONS: Sometimes dogs can be rehabilitated and that can go away but we have to make the sad choice of not bringing those dogs into our facilities because that dog may be there a year. In that same amount of time we could have saved 12 dogs in that same space.

There's also the cost of saving dogs. Big Dog Ranch Rescue is funded solely through donations. Last year Simmons says the Alabama location took in more than 2000 dogs and puppies.

SIMMONS: On average, each dog we save costs us over a thousand dollars.

ALLEN: Von we need some bedding. Can you bring me some bedding somebody?

Back at the site in Alabama, two more mamas are delivered with their two litters of puppies, a Black Lab mix and a Schnauzer.

SIMMONS: I pray every day for our Lord Jesus to help me find an answer to this problem.

AUDIO: How many are there Von? I think three.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Shorter, Alabama.

SOUND: [DOGS BARKING]


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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