Ruth Olson: What is rescue?

Published 3:01 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

If you visit the Sumter Humane Society looking to adopt you might be surprised when you hear how few animals are available for you to take home. Many times we might house up to 75 dogs and cats but only 15-20 can be adopted on that particular day. Why is this? you may ask.
During the past few years our shelter has altered its focus from finding local homes for our adoptable pets to sending them to out-of-state rescues. We have three very trusted rescues that we regularly work with and most of our animals find homes in the New England states — Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, etc. Over 500 cats and dogs were saved by rescue in 2017 alone. The reason for this is two-fold:
First, there is a huge demand for adoptable dogs and cats in the New England states. These states have very strict spay/neuter laws which prohibit unlicensed breeding. If you want to raise a litter of puppies or kittens you must purchase a license. An individual is only allowed to sell one cat or dog under the age of six months in a 12-month period unless they are a valid shelter, kennel, or pet shop. A person may apply for a vendor’s license but it is only valid for 90 days (§4163). Fortunately for overcrowded Southern shelters, backyard breeding has been outlawed and so there is a shortage of pets of all ages.
Second, because of the snow and extreme temperatures in the northern states they love our large breed Georgia dogs. Small dogs are also welcome but our retriever, bulldog, and hound mix puppies and adults easily find wonderful new homes. A majority of visitors to the Sumter Humane Society are seeking to adopt a dog that will stay under 15 pounds. About 90 percent of the dogs who actually enter our shelter will grow to be 40 pounds and over so they are normally passed over by our local adopters. Our rescues also are eager to help with our kittens and social adult cats. It is definitely a win-win program for us.
We do have some restrictions with every animal that travels to rescue. All animals must be social with people and canines must be dog friendly. Candidates must complete a minimum of a 14-day quarantine period at the shelter and have moved into the adoption kennels. During this time the animal receives at least two core vaccinations (parvo/distemper or feline), a kennel cough vaccine for the canines, be de-wormed twice, and have at least two negative fecals. Dogs are tested for heartworms/Lyme disease, and cats for feline leukemia/AIDS. Any animal age-appropriate must be transported to a local vet for a rabies vaccine. If diagnosed with a contagious disease (upper respiratory, mange, ringworm, intestinal worms, heartworm positive, etc.) treatment must be completed before leaving the shelter. They also must receive a health certificate from a local vet before travel. Once all of the above is completed our partners either schedule pick-up here at the shelter or we drive to the Atlanta area to meet the transport van.
The bottom line is rescue is essential to shortening the stay of pets in the shelter, moving stray and abandoned animals out of our community and into great new homes, reducing the number of unwanted litters, and has greatly decreased the number of animals roaming the streets, starving, and succumbing to neglect and illness. If you do come into the Sumter Humane Society to adopt, we hope that you help us celebrate the fact that we only have a limited number of pets available. We are also very happy to put your name on our list and will call you if we do receive in something that might be a great addition to your family.
All of the care, medical and vet expenses for our rescue program are funded by local animal lovers and grants so donations are always needed and go directly to saving lives. Donations may be mailed to the Sumter Humane Society, 108 Industrial Blvd, Americus GA 31719 or via our web site

Ruth Olson is shelter director, Sumter Humane Society.