Getting creative to save animals

January 16, 2008 5:04:46 PM PST
Thousands of pets die in and around the Houston area every year because no one adopts them from pounds and shelters. Now, some breed rescue groups are getting creative about saving animals and reaching across state lines to do it. Two years ago, as many as eight out of ten animals brought in to Montgomery county's animal shelter never left the facility. They were euthanized. Then a constable was put in charge of the shelter and now things have changed.

"For the month of December, we were at our lowest point -- 43 percent, which is a long way from where we want to be, but is the greatest success we've ever enjoyed," said Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable Tim Holifield.

It's success in part from supply versus demand.

One solution, though, came from a state far removed from Texas, where animal control laws are stronger and some animals are in short supply. The result is that pets are now moving up north.

Several times a week, volunteers with Labrador Retriever Rescue comb through area pounds and shelters and more often than not, find a lab to save.

In six months, 40 have been taken from the Montgomery County shelter, more than that from Houston, and shipped to Connecticut. 'Mike' is about to make that trip soon. A few weeks ago, he was one more shelter dog whose days were numbered, one more pet waiting to be discovered.

"Sometimes, they come in and we're in shock an owner hasn't found them," said Laura McConnel with the Woodlands Dog Park and Lab Rescue. "They sit. They stay. They lay down."

And they now have wonderful lives. These are a few of the Texas labs with their new families in Connecticut, a state where dog breeders are regulated and spay and neuter is the rule rather than exception. There are fewer dogs and higher prices.

"It costs about a thousand dollars for a lab. Here, we kill 'em," said Barbara Sands with Lab Rescue. "We've got great labs and they're free. In fact, we'll pay you to take them because we're going to kill them."

It's not entirely free. The cost of shipping the dogs is split between rescue groups on both ends. But it frees up space at shelters, success limited only by the number of volunteers. Montgomery County is working with a lot of rescues and people willing to give animals temporary homes. Not every dog can be saved, but it's a start.

Are you interested in fostering a shelter animal or adopting a lab? Or maybe you'd like to get involved with a rescue group? Check the links below.

  • Montgomery County Pets lost and found services
  • Houston BARC
  • The Woodlands Dog Park Club
  • Texas Lab rescue

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