The folks at Claremore Animal Shelter raised their hands to house the dogs from this federal case when they could have said 'No' - They were under no obligation and lord knows these cases can freeze up badly needed kennel space for months on end. But after some deliberation between themselves, the staff decided they couldn't turn their back on the dogs. Did you get that? - they wanted to make sure the dogs got the help they needed. The part that gets us is that this shelter is so sadly under-resourced that a staffer wept when the HSUS donated some dog crates from the raid. I hope I'm not embarrassing said person - but gosh - it's big news around here when a small country shelter with no website, much less a donation button, scrapes together to help a lowly batch of fight bust victims. Left: Shelter Supervisor Jennifer Cummings. Jenn rallied hard to help the dogs. Below: This lucky pup went to a local home.
So needless to say, this is the kind of agency that we jump to help when a rescue request comes in. We weren't alone - several individuals and rescues came together to help this particular batch of dogs. Ken Foster from Sula Foudation in New Orleans met our Tim Racer out in Oklahoma to lend a hand and select a dog for his program. A local rescuer offered help to two dogs, one with a pretty bad tumor. Lara from A Rotta Love Plus drove a jillion miles to help this little girl. Mighty Molly Gibbs (adopter of Alf the Vick dog) bent over backwards during a very busy time in her life to help two special females in particular. Setting up transport for these dogs while keeping their secret location off the message boards is a bitch, but many helpers chipped in and worked under the radar. (You want gossip? Just tell people that you can't give them details.) Ken lists out the crew of understanding transport angels on Sula's Blog. Watch this spot for more pix on the adorable Annie (pictured below).
In total, 8 of the 12 dogs were steady enough to find their way to new homes or to rescue programs. The four dogs that had medical or behavior issues received compassion holds either in a rescuer's home or after receiving some special attention at the shelter. It doesn't sound like a lot of dogs considering the hundreds still waiting, but remember -- this is small town Oklahoma, where beat up pit bulls never used to have a snowball's chance of surviving post-raid, so we seized the opportunity to organize these rescue efforts. The commitment shown by every person involved - including and especially HSUS reps Cynthia Armstrong and Adam Parascandola - is an indicator that we are exercising our muscles in a new age where compassion, collaboration, and correct-action can finally click into gear for pit bull victims of cruelty.
Above Right: This sporty girl is on her way to BR. Below: This local rescuer (name withheld to protect him from local bad guys) offered this lovely girl a compassion hold. Sadly, a large tumor in her belly was too advanced, so she was recently put to peace after a couple of weeks of love and comfort in his home.
But back to the shelter that did good: Oklahoma's example is important because it demonstrates how this kind of collaboration can work to help cruelty victims in other locales, and we really need their example right now. We're worried that not every shelter holding dogs from this bust is working in the best interest of the dogs. That's not surprising, given the many variables involved in housing bust dogs all around the midwest. No details to share now, but rescuers are watching the various shelters closely and comparing notes on how things are - or aren't - working. I will say that the cases being handled by the HSUS reps continue to go without a hitch, so kudos to them for being so active in helping the dogs get the second chance they deserve.
If this story touches you, please consider giving to one of the orgs that absorbed the dogs. Or better yet - send supplies (toys, kong balls, pet vitamins, leashes/collars) to this tiny shelter in the middle of cowboy country, along with a hardy thanks for their impressive generosity towards the dogs. They truly deserve to be remembered for their self-less commitment to these victims of cruelty. (I've just signed them up for kuranda bed donations, so check back soon for the new link that will go directly towards gifting a bed to the shelter.)
Claremore Animal Shelter
815 W. Ramm Rd.
Claremore, Oklahoma 74017
Stay tuned for news on this group of Oklahoma bust dogs, and updates on rescue progress in other states.