PLATTSBURGH — Not long ago, Dixi, a spirited and multicolored mixed-breed puppy, was just days away from being euthanized at an overcrowded animal shelter in South Carolina.
Now the pup spends her time investigating the world around her and entertaining her smitten new owners with her playful antics.
”It’s especially nice to know that she didn’t go that (euthanization) route,” said Jody Parks of Cadyville.
Jody, her husband, Jon, and their 10-year-old son, Griffin, adopted Dixi from the Elmore SPCA in Peru earlier this summer, after the no-kill shelter rescued her and other members of her litter from death row.
”She was sort of the runt of the litter and the one that was saying, ‘please take me,’” Jody said.
”She’ll do anything for treats,” said Griffin, who has already taught his furry friend to sit, stay, roll over and play dead.
Dixi is one of 78 canines rescued by Elmore so far this year from shelters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio that do euthanize animals that aren’t adopted.
“I can’t imagine letting an animal die just because it’s not from our county, if we have room and there’s a want for that animal,” said Elmore SPCA Manager Rebecca Burdo.
The rescue project began in 2011, when Elmore was contacted by a concerned citizen hoping the shelter might be able to save some dogs at a high-kill shelter in Ohio.
After taking in the canines and finding them homes, the shelter began receiving requests from facilities in other states to do the same for some of their death-row dogs.
“There are always dogs that need to get out of a high-kill pound,” Burdo said.
The project has become known as “Rosie’s Railroad” in honor of Rosie, the first dog to receive a second chance at life thanks to Elmore’s interstate rescue efforts.
Elmore does not have the space to house many large dogs at any given time, so most of the pups rescued from other shelters are small in size.
There is also a huge demand for small dogs in the area, Burdo said.
Once the dogs arrive at the SPCA, Elmore staff and volunteers go to great lengths to provide them with social enrichment.
“Happy, exercised, socially enriched dogs are more adoptable,” Burdo said.
Elmore staff also tries to ensure that pets are well matched with their adoptive parents.
“We want our animals to be in their forever home,” she said, “not in their ‘right now’ home.”
The most difficult part of the rescue effort is finding a way to get the animals to Peru from the out-of-state locations at a reasonable cost.
Because Elmore SPCA survives on the generosity of donors, the non-profit organization is careful to spend its money as wisely as possible, Burdo said.
For that reason, it agrees to take in death-row dogs only when it has room to house enough of them to justify the cost of transporting them.
”We need to be very fiscally responsible.”
TOO MANY CATS
Since the start of the program, volunteers have stepped up and transported some of the dogs for free, and even the transport businesses that Elmore sometimes uses offer their services to the shelter at a discount.
The shelter is unable to rescue cats from kill facilities, as it already houses so many felines as it is.
In fact, Burdo said, people should call the shelter before dropping stray animals off, as there is little, if any, space for cats and large dogs there.
She advises people who see a stray dog to contact their local dog control officer and not to pick up stray cats unless they are willing to take custody of them and provide food and shelter.
For more information about Elmore SPCA, including how to donate to the organization, visit elmorespca.org or call 643-2451.
Email Ashleigh Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org