Group rescues cattle dogs from euthanasia - East Valley Tribune: News

Group rescues cattle dogs from euthanasia

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Posted: Saturday, May 9, 2009 4:36 pm | Updated: 2:20 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Shannon Stevens, a certified dog trainer, was a volunteer at an animal sanctuary in Gilbert when she became saddened by the number of Australian cattle dogs euthanized at local shelters. So, she founded New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue in 2001.

An 8-year-old Mesa rescue organization says it saved the lives of more than 600 abandoned cattle dogs.

Shannon Stevens, a certified dog trainer, was a volunteer at an animal sanctuary in Gilbert when she became saddened by the number of Australian cattle dogs euthanized at local shelters. So, she founded New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue in 2001.

The group searches animal shelters for cattle dogs on death row. The goal is to foster them for a time and find families for adoption.

Stevens started New Hope because she said shelters would euthanize the dogs because of bad first impressions and lack of understanding.

“I hated it and got tired of seeing so many beautiful dogs being euthanized without a proper temperament test,” she said.

Stevens, who already had cattle dogs of her own, felt her knowledge of the breed would be a recipe for New Hope’s success.

While she is still the director and president of the rescue, the organization now consists of 35 volunteers and five board members.

Katie Anderson, a senior at Arizona State University, is a dog foster parent who performs the rescue’s shelter walks.

Anderson regularly visits area shelters in search of cattle dogs on euthanasia lists who might be eligible for the rescue’s adoption program.

She got involved with New Hope about a year ago and has since fostered five dogs.

“I love being a foster parent. As hard as it is to say goodbye to your foster dogs, it is rewarding,” Anderson said. “I’ve saved five lives this year.”

A large part of being a foster parent, she said, is learning a dog’s personality and the kind of family the dog would be perfect for.

Being a foster parent involves a lot of love and patience, Anderson said. It’s very rewarding, but it’s one of the hardest parts of rescue, she said.

According to the rescue’s Web site, New Hope turns away nearly a dozen dogs a week because it does not have enough foster homes.

The group is taking a risk every time it takes a dog from the shelter. Each dog comes with the possibility of behavior, temperament, and medical problems.

Every dog that is taken in by the group will be micro-chipped for identification, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and licensed.

Both heartworm and fecal tests are done before the dogs are eligible for adoption.

New Hope has been fortunate enough to find some doctors willing to give it a discount. However, even with the lower rates, the rescue can easily spend more than $400 per dog for basic needs.

New Hope’s financial support comes primarily from individual donations. The rescue charges a $150 to $250 adoption fee.

Once a dog is placed into a foster home, information about adopting it will be posted on the rescue’s Web site, said Robyn Bryant, adoption coordinator and a four-year member of New Hope. If someone is interested in learning more about a dog or possibly adopting it, Bryant goes into action.

“I think that it’s special when we have a dog in our system for so long and we get an adopter who is a perfect match,” Bryant said. “It’s like this pet was waiting for these people to find them.”

New Hope educates potential adopters about the cattle dog breed and gives the family two weeks with a dog before they officially process the adoption papers

While Bryant finds the adoption process rewarding and loves what she does, she said the job can be very difficult.

She recalled a situation during a shelter walk where there were three cattle dogs all due to be euthanized. Unfortunately, New Hope only had a foster home for one dog.

“It was sad because you had to pick one and you know the others were going to die,” Bryant said. “We had to choose the one that was the most adoptable.”

Stevens said the tough economy is having an effect on the rescue.

“We are seeing more and more abandoned pets from people who have lost everything and can’t afford to care for their pets anymore,” she said.

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