Wyoming Animal Shelters are overcrowded and that means many pets get killed every year. But some organizations are taking an aggressive approach in trying to get more animals adopted and have fewer animals put to death. One of those is the Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne. The program involves a number of volunteers and a strong on-line and social media effort. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.
BOB BECK: (Nat with Jessie) This is the office of Black dog animal rescue. The executive Director and Founder is Britney Wallesch who is sitting with a dog named Jessie that she is trying to get adopted. Wallesch is an animal lover who wanted to decrease euthanasia rates at Wyoming animal shelters.
BRITANEY WALLESCH: I knew that we could only do that by advocating for that kind of reform and change in those organizations, but also providing a very visible alternative to euthanasia.
BECK: They started by taking in some dogs that shelters deemed to be non-adoptable with the goal of putting them in foster homes. These were dogs that were in the Shelter for long periods of time. Later they also took dogs that people could no longer care for. Shelter dogs are sometimes viewed as inferior. Sometimes it’s because the dogs are a mixed breed, some lack social skills, and others don’t interact well with people.
The concept is that foster parents could correct any problems and make the dogs more adoptable. They do this by bringing the dogs into their homes and have them interact with their families, including their own dogs. Wallesch says at any given time they have between 25 and 35 dogs in foster care.
WALLESCH: Those people who do agree to do it that step up to the plate to help us save these animals are just really extradinory people. And while the dogs live there the program provides for all of their needs. So we feed them, we pay for their vet expenses, we give the foster homes toys and training tools and they have access to behaviorists and trainers to work with.
BECK: Wallesch says they are always searching for more foster homes.
BECK: This is an event just outside the historic depot in downtown Cheyenne. A number of Black Dog Animal Rescue Volunteers are on hand with some dogs available for adoption. Events like this is one of the ways the rescue gets people to adopt animals. While they have an active website and social media approach, here people can meet the dogs. They do a number of events like this throughout the year in various communities. Those who foster dogs normally have one or more of their own and that helps them socialize the animals. Not only have these volunteers fostered animals, some have adopted some of the dogs they have taken in. This is known as a foster failure. Tim Brochero has been fostering for about a year and loves that he’s saving a dog’s life…
TIM BROCHERO: These dogs, after working with them it’s like they know they got a second chance and they’re just great dogs overall.
BECK: Bruchero says his permanent dog loves the company. Another foster parent Emilee Intelkofer says you can get attached to some of the dogs…which makes it hard to give them up.
EMILEE INTELKOFER: Some of them are harder than others, my first foster was an emaciated Pit Bill that I got almost a year ago and there are some days, even now that I tear up thinking about him.
BECK: But she follows the family on Facebook and is thrilled with the life the dog now has. She says it’s rewarding to see the dogs thriving.
INTELKOFER: It is a lot of work to have a dog, to house training them, usually they are not house broken to get them socialized, but to see them go to their homes with lessons that you taught them…it’s just like they have a renewed faith in humans, it’s amazing there is absolutely nothing like it.
BECK: Wallesch knows that sometimes people are reluctant to adopt foster animals, but she stresses that their adoption program should ease anyone’s fears…
WALLESCH: They’re house trained, they are crate trained, they have basic skills under their belt, our foster homes know them really well. You are just not going to get that sometimes where someone can give you professional feedback on a dog you are looking at adopting.
Wallesch says over 700 dogs have been saved through the Black Dog Animal Rescue and she is pushing the volunteers hard to increase that number substantially in future months. For Wyoming Public Radio, I’m Bob Beck.
To listen to the entire November 30, 2012 Wyoming Open Spaces program, please click here.