Many a tear has been shed when the commercial that pairs a heart-wrenching Sarah McLachlan song with pictures of sorrowful dogs in animal shelters comes on the television. It’s enough to make anyone sad when they think of the pound.
Home Fur Good Animal Rescue and Placement paints a much happier image, though, with its cheerful staff, a Miniature Pinscher named Bob who greets visitors at the door and a cat who prefers dogs over its fellow felines.
Home Fur Good is a no kill facility located in north Phoenix. Loretta Isaac, one of the co-founders, said the shelter’s mission statement is “to eliminate euthanasia of treatable, adoptable animals in Maricopa County through placement, medical care and community awareness.”
No kill shelters only euthanize animals if they are terminally ill or pose a threat to the public. Many of these shelters, like Home Fur Good, take in pets from other places that would be put down otherwise.
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control runs a program called “New Hope,” in which approved rescue shelters receive lists of pets at risk of euthanasia and can bring the animals to their facility. Home Fur Good is one of these shelters, Isaac said.
Lynda Logan is the director of shelter operations for Home Fur Good. She explained the process the shelter goes through when a new animal is brought in.
First, the pet is put into their isolation room, where they keep new animals or any with an illness, like kennel cough or an eye infection.
Then, Logan said, a veterinarian gives the animal a complete health exam. Home Fur Good has a full service vet room in their building. On top of the exams for new arrivals, it is also used as a low-cost vaccination clinic on Sundays.
If anything needs to be treated right away, the staff takes care of that, by giving the animal antibiotics to treat kennel cough, or administering eye drops.
Next, the pet receives any necessary vaccinations and a microchip, and is spayed or neutered after about a week in the shelter. These services are included in the adoption fee. Home Fur Good is a non-profit that relies on donations and adoption fees to stay running.
“It’s more about saving lives, not the money,” Logan said.
The dogs receive training classes on Thursday afternoons in the shelter’s backyard. Trainers come in and, based on the dog’s level of obedience, reinforce good habits and try to unlearn the bad ones. Depending on the dog’s preference, the trainers will use treats or toys as positive reinforcement.
Finally, the shelter takes time to learn about each animal’s unique personality traits, like Sally the cat who doesn’t like being around other cats, but enjoys spending time with the dogs in the shelter; or Charlie, a very shy Pointer, who had to be placed with the smaller dogs because of his nerves.
Both Logan and Isaac emphasize the importance of matching each dog or cat with an owner that will fit them.
“We want pets to be a part of the family, not disposable,” Isaac said. She also said that changing the public’s mindset will help reduce overpopulation, which is a huge problem in the United States.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized each year.
Avery Crossman always wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter, but she didn’t want to deal with the sadness that came with the euthanasia of pets. Then she started volunteering at Home Fur Good.
“I never leave here sad,” Crossman said.
At other shelters, if an animal is gone the next time a volunteer comes in, he or she doesn’t know if the animal was adopted or put down. At no-kill shelters, “you know the animals that leave are being adopted,” Crossman said.
Isaac said their facility’s goal is to be a “safety net” for animals that may not survive at other shelters.
She said humans are the reason those animals deal with these kind of problems, so humans need to help them out.