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Out of Harm's Way Rescue Network

Articles of Interest

This is why we do what we do..........
 As a journalist, I decided to go to the dog pound, and interview some of the "inmates". I wanted to know what it was like in there from their perspective. What follows is not for the faint of heart.

I entered the building, and one of the workers accompanied me to the holding area. This is where dogs are kept before they are allowed up for adoption. IF they are allowed up for adoption. If the dogs are found to be aggressive in any way, euthanasia is employed. Fortunately, if "fortunately" is the word to be used here. This is a Canadian establishment, and they use lethal injection, not a gas chamber.

The pound worker led me past a big steel door that says "Employees Only". "What is in there?" I asked. From the look he gave me, I knew that this is where dogs go in, and never return.

We moved on to a row of kennels. The dogs were barking loudly, there was the acrid smell of urine and feces, and a feeling of despair seemed to permeate the room.

"Go ahead," the worker said. "They're all yours."


I looked into the first kennel, and saw only the back of a medium sized dog who was curled up in the corner of his kennel, shivering. He was mostly white, with some black spots. "Hello?" I said. "May I come in?" He lifted his head, as though it weighed more than he could bear. When he looked at me, I could see he was a Pitbull. His eyes were gentle, but filled with grief.

"Enter," was all he said.

I stepped in, closing the gate behind me. He put his head back down, facing away from me. I crouched down a few feet away.

"My name is Pete. Petey my Master called me," he said, still not looking at me.

"Why are you here Pete?" I asked.

"I am here because Master cannot afford to move to another province. I am here because someone with power said I am vicious, and a killer. Someone who never met me. Master took me for a walk one day, and some lady started to scream when she saw me. I got frightened, and barked at her. The dog police came, and they took me away. I have been with Master for 10 years. The last time I saw him, he just held me and cried. He kept telling me he was sorry. I worry for him. Whatever will he do without me?" Pete shivered even more.

A tear slid down my face. I am supposed to remain objective,
but this was wrong.
So wrong.

"Thank you Pete." I said. He said nothing as I got up and left his kennel.


The kennel next to Pete's held a very young looking dog. Pure Border Collie by my guess. He stood on his hind legs, looking at me through the gate.

"Hello. My name's Popper. He tilted his head. "Are you here to take me home?"

"No, I'm sorry," I replied. "But I would like to talk with you."

"Sure. What would you like to talk about?"

"Popper, how did you come to be in this place?" I asked.

Popper dropped down from the gate, with a perplexed look on his face. He walked to the back of the kennel, then back to the front. I noticed he had one blue eye, and one brown. He was quite beautiful. His black and white coat was shiny and thick.

"I am not certain WHY I am here. I think maybe my family will come back for me. They bought me when I was only 6 weeks old. I remember they said how smart Border Collies are, and how it would be so easy to train me. They were very excited at first. The little ones played with me all the time. But the trouble with little Masters is, they refuse to stay in a group. I constantly had to nip their heels to keep them together." He looked confused. "Why won't they stay in a group?" he sighed. "So I did what I thought I should do. I am not quite sure why the little ones screamed when I did my job, but they did, and the Masters got very angry at me. They also got angry when I had to relieve myself, and did so in the house. I am not sure where they expected me to go. All they said was that I was the smartest breed in the world, and I should just KNOW better. Then they left me in the yard for a month or so. I got bored a lot, and I dug holes in the grass. The next thing I knew, the Masters brought me here."

Popper jumped back up on the gate, his white paws protruding through the links. He looked at me with his lovely eyes, and asked "Will you please let them know I want to come home? Please tell them I promise I will
be good?"

"I will Popper," I said.


My heart was breaking. I was beginning to regret coming here, but their stories had to be told. I moved along. The next dog I saw looked to be easily 100 lbs., a Rottweiler . He was handsome indeed, except for the scars on his face and back. He tilted his head, and looked me right in the eyes.

"Hello. Who are you?" he asked.

"I am a reporter," I replied. "May I speak with you for a little while?"

"Most certainly. My name is Spartan. You can come in, I won't bite," he said.

"Thank you Spartan. I will."

I entered his kennel, reached out and stroked his giant head. He made a loud grumbling noise, and closed his eyes.

"Spartan, why are you here?"

Before he could answer my question, he was suddenly in the grip of a nasty coughing spasm. It sounded painful.

"Please excuse me," he said when it passed. "Kennel cough. It seems all of us who come in here get it.
"Why am I here?
Well, about two years ago, I was born in the backyard of some person I can't even recall. I had 11 brothers and sisters. I recall a day when a big man came and gave that person some money, and took me away from my mother. They had to chain her up, as she was very angry that he took me. They chained her and beat her. I came to know the man by the name of Jim. I overheard him telling his friends that I would grow up
to be big and mean like my mother. But as I grew older, all I wanted to do was play and be friends with everyone. Jim said I needed to be taught how to be mean, so he chained me up in the yard. No more house for me, he said,
I was too spoiled.

When people came by to visit, I was so happy to see them. I wanted them to come and play. But that made Jim angry, so he beat me with sticks
and chains. When he came near, I would roll onto my back so he would know I wasn't a bad dog. That made him beat me more." Spartan's eyes clouded with grief.
"Then he brought me here."

I reached out and stroked Spartan's massive gentle head once more. "I am so sorry Spartan. Some people are just plain evil." I gave him a kiss and left his kennel.

As I walked away, Spartan called out, "What will happen to me, nice lady?"

I shook my head. "I can't say Spartan. Maybe someone kind will come and get you. We can only hope."


I walked a little further down. I could see a shape moving at the back of the next kennel.
"Hello?" I called out. Suddenly the shape lunged at the gate in a fury, barking and gnashing its teeth. I stumbled backwards, and crashed into an adjacent kennel. The other dogs began barking
loudly and jumping at their gates.

"Don't go near her," a small female voice came from behind me.
"She's mad."

I gathered myself back together, and saw a little Jack Russell Terrier behind me.

"Thanks for the warning," I was still trembling. Across the way, the other dog, apparently a Husky and German Shepherd cross, was glaring at me, lips curled back revealing brown stained teeth. Her ribs and hips showed through her dull, matted grey coat. The little dog invited me into
her kennel, and I gladly went in.

"Who are you?"

" My name is Patsy." The little brown and white dog held a paw up to the gate in greeting.

"My owner surrendered me. She said she wanted a cute little dog like the one on the TV show, Frasier. She didn't bother to look into the type of dog I am."
Patsy heaved a sigh.

"I suppose she expected me to just lie about and only need a short walk each day, just like Eddie, but my energy was so high that I needed to
run and play." She glanced at her surroundings. "Now I am here. I suppose it could be worse. I could be like.her." Patsy looked towards the
still growling dog across the way.

"What happened to make her so vicious?" I asked.

"From what we could gather," she replied. "she was found tied in a back yard. She only had a three foot chain. Some days there was no water.
Rarely was there any food. One day a nice neighbour came by and brought her some meat. By then it was too late. She was already mad. She broke off h er chain, and bit the poor man badly. We know she will be going behind the steel door. I am sad to say, I think it will be best. Perhaps then she will know some peace."

Just then, the door at the end of the building opened, and a woman stepped inside. All the dogs began to bark wildly, then one by one,
they went quiet.

I whispered to Patsy, "Who is that? Why have all the dogs gone quiet?"

Patsy breathed deeply through her little nose, and closed her eyes.
"SHE is a Rescuer. Can't you smell it?" she asked.

"Smell what?" I was confused.

"Compassion. Love. Sorrow. It emanates from her pores. She is here for one of us, but nobody knows who just yet." Patsy looked hopeful.

The Rescuer moved from kennel to kennel, looking at each dog. I sat quietly watching. I could see tears in her eyes as she made eye contact with each one. She stopped at Spartan's cage and spoke quietly to him.

"No more beatings my man. No more. You are coming with me. From here on in, it's all going to get better."

The Rescuer produced a leash, opened the kennel door, and took Spartan away. As he walked beside her, his little stubby tail wagged with delight.

Patsy sighed again. I could see the disappointment in her eyes, and it grieved me. They all had the same look, as they watched The Rescuer depart.

"I am so sorry Patsy," I said in a whisper. "But you are a little dog, and everyone loves little dogs. I am convinced you will be rescued soon." Patsy's brown eyes twinkled at me, a little bit of hope returning.

I had heard and seen enough. I needed to tell people how it was for these unfortunate creatures. They were all here through no fault of their own. I stood to leave. I passed by many other dogs I did not interview, looking at each one, wishing I could take them all home with me and give them the love they deserved.
I stood by the door taking one last glance back, when it opened, and one of the pound workers came in. His face was drawn and sad. He walked
by without a word, and stopped at Pete's kennel. I heard him take a deep breath, then he paused, and opened the kennel door.

The words were muffled, but I am sure I heard him say "I'm sorry old boy."

He came out, with Petey in tow. The old dog's head hung down in resignation, and they both disappeared behind the big steel door.

Nancy Clark



"Top 10 Reasons You Should Consider an Adult Rescue"

10) In a Word--Housebroken. With most family members gone during the workweek for 8 hours or more, housetraining a puppy and its small bladder can take awhile. Puppies need a consistent schedule with frequent opportunities to eliminate where you want them. They can't wait for the boss to finish his meeting or the kids to come home from after school activities.

An older dog can "hold it" much more reliably for longer time periods, and usually the Rescue has him housebroken before he is adopted.

9) Intact Underwear. With a chewy puppy, you can count on at least 10 mismatched pairs of socks and a variety of unmentionables rendered to the "rag bag" before he cuts every tooth. And don't even think about shoes! Also, you can expect holes in your carpet (along with the urine stains), pages missing from books, stuffing exposed from couches, and at least one dead remote control. No matter how well you watch them, it will happen--this is a puppy's job!

An older dog can usually have the run of the house without destroying it.

8) A Good Night's Sleep. Forget the alarm clocks and hot water bottles, a puppy can be very demanding at 2am and 4am and 6am. He misses his littermates, and that stuffed animal will not make a puppy pile with him. If you have children, you've been there and done that. How about a little peace and quiet?

How about an older rescue dog??

7) Finish the Newspaper. With a puppy running amok in your house, do you think you will be able to relax when you get home from work? Do you think your kids will really feed him, clean up the messes, and take him for a walk in the pouring rain every hour to get him housetrained?

With an adult dog, it will only be the kids running amok, because your dog will be sitting calmly next to you, while your workday stress flows away and your blood pressure lowers as you pet him.

6) Easier Vet Trips. Those puppies need their series of puppy shots and fecals, then their rabies shot, then a trip to be altered, maybe an emergency trip or two if they've chewed something dangerous. Those puppy visits can add up (on top of what you paid for the dog!).

Your donation to the rescue when adopting an older pup should get you a dog with all shots current, already altered, heartworm negative and on preventative at the minimum.

5) What You See Is What You Get. How big will that puppy be? What kind of temperament will he have? Will he be easily trained? Will his personality be what you were hoping for? How active will he be?

When adopting an older dog from a rescue, all of those questions are easily answered. You can pick large or small; active or couch potato; goofy or brilliant; sweet or sassy. The rescue and its foster homes can guide you to pick the right match. (Rescues are full of puppies that became the wrong match when they got older!)

4) Unscarred Children (and Adults). When the puppy isn't teething on your possessions, he will be teething on your children and yourself. Rescues routinely get calls from panicked parents who are sure their dog is biting the children. Since biting implies hostile intent and would be a consideration whether to accept a "give-up", Rescue Groups ask questions and usually find out the dog is being nippy. Parents are often too emotional to see the difference; but a growing puppy is going to put everything from food to clothes to hands in their mouths, and as they get older and bigger it definitely hurts (and will get worse, if they aren't being corrected properly.)

Most older dogs have "been there, done that, moved on."

3) Matchmaker Make Me a Match. Puppy love is often no more than an attachment to a look or a color. It is not much of a basis on which to make a decision that will hopefully last 15+ years. While that puppy may have been the cutest of the litter; he may grow up to be super-active (when what you wanted was a couch buddy); she may be a couch princess (when what you wanted was a tireless hiking companion); he may want to spend every waking moment in the water (while you're a landlubber); or she may want to be an only child (while you are intending to have kids or more animals). Pet mismatches are one of the top reasons Rescues get "give-up" phone calls.

Good rescues do extensive evaluating of both their dogs and their applicants to be sure that both dog and family will be happy with each other until death do them part.

2) Instant Companion. With an older dog, you automatically have a buddy that can go everywhere and do everything with you NOW. There's no waiting for a puppy to grow up (and then hope he will like to do what you enjoy.) You will have been able to select the most compatible dog: one that travels well; one that loves to play with your friends' dogs; one with excellent house manners that you can take to your a long day's work and spend your time on a relaxing walk, ride or swim with your new best friend (rather than cleaning up after a small puppy.)

1) Bond--Rescue Dog Bond. Dogs who have been uprooted from their happy homes or have not had the best start in life are more likely to bond very completely and deeply with their new people. Those who have lost their families through death, divorce or lifestyle change go through a terrible mourning process. But, once attached to a new loving family, they seem to want to please as much as possible to make sure they are never homeless again.

Those dogs that are just learning about the good life and good people seem to bond even deeper. They know what life on the streets, life on the end of a chain, or worse is all about, and they revel and blossom in a nurturing, loving environment.

Most rescues make exceptionally affectionate and attentive pets and extremely loyal companions. Unfortunately, many folks think dogs that end up in rescue are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for Rescue to get $500 dogs that have either outlived their usefulness or their novelty with impulsive guardians who considered their dog a possession rather than a friend or member of the family; or simply did not really consider the time, effort and expense needed to be a dog caretaker. Not all breeders will accept "returns", so choices for giving up dogs can be limited to animal welfare  organizations, such as Rescues, or the guardians trying to place their own dogs.

Good Rescues will evaluate the dog before accepting him/her (medically, behaviorally, and for breed confirmation), rehabilitate if necessary, and adopt the animal only when he/she is ready and to a home that matches and is realistic about the commitment necessary to provide the dog with the best home possible.

Choosing a rescue dog over a purchased pup will not solve the pet overpopulation problem (only responsible pet guardians and breeders can do that), but it does give many of them a chance they otherwise would not have. But, beyond doing a "good deed", adopting a rescue dog can be the best decision and addition to the family you ever made.

Rescue a dog and get a devoted friend for life!

Kristina de Don

Vinny, adopted at the Shelter as a puppy,
Rescued off the end of a Chain after he got too big......

What Rescue Is All About

By: Melinda McMillion

Many people think they would love to adopt a new doggie. They watch shows like “Animals Cops” on Animal Planet. They think owning a new puppy will be so much fun.

But after the newness and cuteness wears off, they find that Fido makes a mess, Fido eats everyday, Fido has to go to the vet, and Fido chews things up. Now, since Fido has become an expensive nuisance, he will need to go outside. But since you don’t have a fenced yard, Fido will have to stay on a chain or in a small dog pen out back.

Well, now that Fido is confined to a small space, he and his area start to smell. So you move Fido farther from the house. Ick, what a smell! Now Fido barks all night trying to get your attention, and the neighbors are starting to complain. “Dumb Dog!“ you say.

When you go out to feed and water Fido, if you remember, he jumps up on your pretty clothes. He is just so excited to finally see someone. But you don’t like this kind of interaction, so you decide to stand just out of reach and slide his food and water bowls over to him. That “ignorant dog” is really starting to get on your nerves.

Now Fido starts digging out of his pen or slips his collar to go looking for love and companionship. You get mad at the “stupid dog“ when neighbors call and complain about Fido turning over their garbage cans or chasing after their family pets.

That’s it, you’ve had it. You take him back to the shelter and tell them your kids are allergic to him, or that you’re moving and can’t take him with you, or you say he is so unmannerly and destructive that you can’t keep him anymore.

Now, everything and everybody Fido has known all his life has been taken away. His home, his family, his whole world has suddenly been turned upside down. He doesn’t understand. He is now among all new people, lots of kennels filled with lots of strange dogs, and he can’t get away from the constant, underlying stench of death. Where is he? What’s happening? When am I going home? Where’s my family? When are they coming back for me?

All of this is so traumatizing to Fido. Oftentimes he will react with fear and trembling, depression, or even aggression. Sometimes he will be relieved just to be around other living creatures and given food, water, and shelter. But the truth is, his chances of being adopted are very small. The shelters are overcrowded and time is short.

That’s where Rescue comes in. We take these poor, traumatized souls and help to rehabilitate them physically, emotionally, and socially. We bring them into our own homes and lavish them with love and attention. We see to their illnesses and injuries and nurse them back to health. We help them learn to trust again, to love again, and to learn manners and social skills. We help them learn to adapt to a constantly changing environment of different animals and different people.

We also take the time to learn about them. We find out what they like and don’t like. We discover their strengths and their weaknesses. We learn about their needs and form opinions as to the type of environment that would be best for them. Finally, after all this change and adjustment, we begin to try and find homes for our newest charges.

That’s where the real work begins. Now, armed with our knowledge of Fido, his past and his present condition, we set out to find just the right home, family, and environment for Fido so that he can now thrive instead of simply survive.

We have our potential adopters fill out home questionnaires. This helps us get a better feel for this particular family’s work schedule, home setup, expectations, and past pet history. It is an in-depth interview. If the applicant answers in a way we feel would not suit Fido, then the adoption process ends there.

For instance, if we know Fido would be happiest with a fenced in yard and the applicant lives in a condo with an unfenced common area, then we deny based solely on this. However, this is not a judgment of the individual or their home but rather a decision for the welfare of this particular dog. If the potential adopter qualifies in every other way, we may ask that they consider adopting another dog or a different breed or size that would be better suited to their situation.

We also like to do home visits as the final step in the adoption process. This is not being nosey or invasive. We have all seen television shows about animal hoarders and collectors and people who literally live in filth and horrendous conditions. Once we have rescued Fido, we want to make sure we don’t have to do it again. We want the right home for Fido not just a home.

If the potential adopter lives too far away for us to do a home visit, we ask that they send us pictures of their home both inside and out. This way we can make sure that conditions are safe and that the home resembles what the applicant has represented in their application.

After everything is said and done, the adopter is approved, and Fido goes to his new home, we also offer to take Fido back if the adoption does not work out. This way, if Fido doesn’t mesh with their family, home, schedule, or other pets, then he can come back to a safe place with people he knows and loves. Then we, the rescuers, can try again to find Fido the perfect home.

There is also another reason for all this intense investigation……..We genuinely care about the animals we save. And after investing so much of ourselves into them, we want to make sure that they go into homes where they will be loved, cherished, and will never be hurt, neglected, or abandoned again.

Written By: Melinda McMillion                         March 24, 2006


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Out of
Harm's Way

1. Why do you want to adopt a dog?

2. What do you think are the most important responsibilities in owning a dog?

3. For whom are you adopting the dog?

4. Have you ever owned a pet before?

       a. Please describe the pets that are currently with you (type, age, sex, altered status).

       b. Please describe the pets that are no longer with you (type, age, sex, altered status).

       c. What happened to the pets that are no longer with you?

       d .Have you ever adopted a pet?

       e. Have you ever adopted and returned a pet?

5. Please provide the name and phone number of the veterinarian you use for your pets.

6. How many people reside in your household?

7. Are there any children in the household?

       a. If yes, what are their ages?

8. Does anyone have allergies?

9. Who will be responsible for feeding, housebreaking, and training?

       a. Do you realize that rescued dogs may have been abandoned due to house breaking issues?

       b. Is this a problem in your house hold?

10. How will you housebreak the dog (if not already done)?

11. Do you own or rent your residence?

       a. If you rent, please provide the name and phone number of your landlord.

12. What type of home do you live in (single family, 2 family, apartment, condo, farm)?

13. Does your residence have a yard?

       a. If yes, please state the size.

14. Is your yard fenced?

       a. If so, what type of fence?

15. Where will the dog stay during the day (inside, outside, or both)?

16. Where will the dog stay during the night (inside, outside, or both)?

17. How much time will the dog spend outside?

18. What do you and your spouse, partner, or significant other do for a living? Will anyone be home during the day?

19. How many hours a day will the dog be left unattended?

20. When no one is home, where will the dog be kept?

21. Where will the dog sleep?

22. What do you intend to feed the dog?

23. How frequently will the adults be gone away from home on business/vacation/trips?

24. Are you willing to drive to Spartanburg to meet the dog and if unforeseen circumstances arise are you willing to drive back to Spartanburg to return the dog?

25. Do you understand that the adoption fee cannot be returned after 7 days? (it goes to pay the costs of keeping a rescue running)

26. Please list any preference you have in adopting a dog (age, sex, breed, personality).

27. 2 Personal References (not related to you):

Your name, your age, your address and your contact numbers:

I represent that the information that I have provided on this form is the truth to the best of my knowledge and belief.