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NLR Shelter’s Rescue Dog Program has saved almost 400 dogs in 2013

North Little Rock just has too many unwanted dogs and not enough homes which want to adopt them. Are there other ways to resolve the problem than euthanasia?

One answer to the problem has been the city’s Rescue Dog Program which started about three years ago.

Late in 2011, the city’s Animal Control Office contacted Leslie Cobb with Wishing Well for Paws.

“As with any shelter, trying to find homes for our dogs is sometimes an overwhelming proposition due to the sheer numbers in our kennels, said Julia Coulter of the North Little Rock Shelter’s Rescue Dog Program. “Leslie was sympathetic to our situation, and with her help and guidance the North Little Rock Shelter started our Rescue Dog Program.”

According to Coulter, Liana Poirrier and her group of volunteers with Helping Paws Across Arkansas came on board with the city in September of 2012.

“They come in on a weekly basis and take photos of our adoptable dogs,” Coulter said. “The dogs are then posted via Facebook to Rescue groups out of state, thus reaching far more potential adopters than we could ever do so locally.”

The program has grown exponentially; 35 dogs saved in three months in 2011, 210 dogs in 2012, and 395 to date so far this year, for a total of 640 dogs since October 2011.

“The majority of the dogs in the program are sent out of state, but a few local Rescues have also stepped up to take some into their programs,” Coulter said.

Nearly 60 percent of all dogs adopted from the Shelter are now going through the Rescue Dog Program.

“It has been hard fought and by the skin-of-our-teeth at times, but the effort has been worthwhile,” Coulter said. “For the first time in several years the vast majority of our adoptable dogs are going to new homes. This is clearly due to the efforts of Liana Poirrier, the volunteers that take the photos, foster the dogs, and transport them out of state, as well as the Rescue groups that take our dogs for adoption.”

The difficulty the program is facing, however, is that most of the Rescues that are taking the city’s dogs are located in either the Midwestern or Western states. The Northeast states have dedicated transport businesses to transport rescue dogs from the southern states. The West and Midwest does not.

“This means that transporting all the dogs pulled for rescues in those areas is more difficult and expensive,” Coulter said. “The animals must be sent either via volunteer transport, or when a larger number of dogs need to be transported, a van must be rented and a special trip planned to get the dogs to the receiving Rescues. Volunteer transports are usually limited to a few dogs, as people step up to drive the dogs from Leg A to Leg B to Leg C, etc. all the way across country.”

What the shelter needs is donations earmarked specifically for funding the transports, she said.

“The Rescues are stepping up to take our dogs, but we need help getting them to their new homes,” she said. “Our support organization, North Little Rock Friends of Animals, has set aside an account to be used specifically for donations to the Rescue Dog Program. Donations can be mailed to the North Little Rock Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 5757, North Little Rock AR 72119. Please remember to note that the donation is for the ‘Rescue Dog Program’,” Coulter said.

She added, “When you see the dogs here at the shelter, lost, lonely, and scared, and then see photos of them after they have been adopted and are with their new families, it is heartwarming.”

Donations made to Rescue program that all donations are tax deductible, as Friends of Animals is a 501(c) 3 organization, she said.

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