by Trinity Gruenberg
trinity@inhnews.com


    Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on August 25 as a category four storm and the wettest on record with 40 inches of rain. The storm caused extensive damage, flooding and loss of life. In Harvey’s chaos, pets were displaced and shelters overflowed. 
    The Wadena County Humane Society (WCHS) has been partnered with organizations in Texas for nearly a year to take in dogs at risk of euthanasia. As the storm approached, the organizations sprang into action to get their current shelter dogs relocated to make room for more. The WCHS offered to take some in. These dogs were not displaced pets and did not have previous owners.
    The dogs were taken in by fosters in Texas and tagged for transport. Once they were medically cleared and a transport was available, they made their way to Wadena and other shelters.
    “There is a little period of time where they are in foster and they are safe. But at the same time, the only way they can save more is to transport them off to us,” explained Manager Emma Davenport.
    “Each dog that comes through here represents that. Not only do they get a chance at a forever home, but another dog can be saved,” said Davenport.
    Two transports of Texas pooches arrived at the WCHS. The first on September 2 and a larger one on Saturday, September 16, with a total of 27 rescued dogs. Many volunteers were on hand to assist with the intake. 
    Within 24 hours, 14 dogs were adopted. Others went to fosters. Due to the high volume of intake and adoptions, the shelter was closed for two days. 
    They have been working with volunteers on the ground in Texas. Most of these dogs come from the Corpus Christi area.
    “There were already so many dogs at risk for euthanasia. Harvey made it 10 times worse. We tried to step it up and find more fosters so we could take in more dogs,” said Davenport.
    Out of the 27 Harvey dogs, 10 are still up for adoption. You can see them on the WCHS page on Facebook, website and on pet finder. 
    The best way you can lend a hand is to offer to foster. 
    “This transport forced us to expand our foster base, and we have found some really amazing fosters,” she said.
    One Harvey dog, Chance, was a stray in Texas and would play with the kids at a school every day. He was picked up by animal control and is now at the WCHS. He loves kids, loves to be with people and is looking for his “fur-ever home.” Ebony, another Harvey pup, is a shy, lovable black lab who is also up for adoption. 
    In 2017, they have saved 192 dogs from areas with kill shelters.
    Social media has been a huge factor in getting fosters and potential adopters. People have come to WCHS from across the state to adopt a pet.
    Local dogs are their first priority. If they have room or available fosters they will take in dogs from other areas in high kill shelters.
    “We are cautious to select dogs that won’t compete with our local dogs,” said Davenport.
    Generally, they receive small dogs from other shelters because they are in high demand. Being a small organization, they do not possess the staff and resources to handle behavioral and medical rehabilitation cases.
    They go above and beyond rescuing local pups as well. Recently, they received a call about a dog stuck in a local river. Davenport and Assistant Manager Echo South went to the location to rescue the pup. 
    “Echo was supposed to go in the water, but I kind of fell in trying to get a good peek at the dog,” said Davenport. 
    The duo rescued a 14-year-old cocker spaniel who was trapped in the mud for two days. He was reunited with his owner that day, who was proactivly searching for his lost pup. 
    They only take dogs from kill shelters because they are always at capacity for cats. 
    “Our cat adoptions have doubled in the last two years, but it never feels like it’s enough due to their rate of reproduction. If we were to take every single cat, that’s how shelters become kill shelters,” explained Davenport.  
    “It is a better deal to get a cat from a shelter because they are already spayed/neutered, up-to-date on vaccinations and microchipped. It’s hard to compete with a free kitten being given out, because they don’t see the medical cost that it entails,” shared Davenport.
    Sharing posts from their Facebook page allows more people to see the available pets. They have started orientations for those looking to volunteer at the shelter. Once a certain level of training has been achieved, those volunteers can assist with transports. 
    “We are a shelter that wants to keep improving. Ultimately we would like to be a model for rural shelters,” said Davenport. 
    “We have some super dedicated volunteers. We couldn’t do these large transports without them,” she continued.
    They are currently working with many different partners to save at risk dogs.
    “In many ways we get the fun part and find dogs forever homes,” she said.
    They get the chance to see the pups in their new homes from adopters posting pictures and updates on their Facebook page.
    The WCHS is also gearing up for their Don’t Shoot The Dog campaign. Follow their Facebook page for details and updates and on their website www.wadenacountyhumanesociety.org where you can view available animals and donate to save more lives. 

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