Local pet rescues help bring love home for the holidays
December 21, 2010
By Kirsten Johnson
Thinking about taking in a new furry, four-legged friend? Why not adopt him from a shelter, and truly save a life?
According to the Humane Society of the United States, in the United States alone, more than half of the 6 million to 8 million pets that enter shelters each year are euthanized.
The adoption process is easy. And Issaquah is home to a number of small, foster home-based animal rescues.
People United for Pets is a local nonprofit rescue organization that specializes in small and toy breed dogs. Pets sitting in large shelters that are essentially on “death row” are rescued and brought into foster homes until a permanent home can be found for them.
Laura Tonkin, founder and director of PUP, said the groups exist purely to help the millions of dogs dying in shelters. Her organization also works with the Seattle Humane Society.
“There are way too many animals being killed,” Tonkin said. “All over this country, dogs and cats are being euthanized. For that reason, we’re a huge proponent of adopting.”
Another group, 11th Hour Rescue Northwest, is a private Issaquah-based rescue organization founded in 2004 by Rebecca Alexander and her daughter. They specifically focus on dogs with the hardest time getting out of the shelter. She saves pets in dire situations and places them into safe havens.
Shelters often have a greater selection of breeds to choose from than many might think. In fact, the H.S.U.S. estimates that 25 percent of dogs in large shelters and also smaller rescue organizations are purebreds.
“Whatever kind of dog you’re looking for from a breeder, you can find that same dog sitting in a shelter that needs a home,” Alexander said.
Besides saving a life, adopting a shelter dog will coincide with a number of health benefits of owning a pet. Along with providing an extra incentive to exercise and a new social network of fellow dog owners, studies show a link between dog ownership and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dog owners have also been shown to have a lower chance of depression, according to the Delta Society, which is dedicated to improving human health through therapy and service animals.
“If people are alone, a dog is someone to meet you at the door when you come home,” said Sandy Sircin, of the Issaquah Veterinary Hospital. “They provide unconditional love. There is something about having those brown eyes look at you and melt you.”
Adopting any canine from any rescue organization or shelter ensures that your new friend will come spayed or neutered, microchipped and current on all vaccinations. An advantage of adopting a dog in a foster home allows potential owners to see how the dog behaves in a home setting.
“We tell you everything we know about the dog,” Tonkin said. “We are a full disclosure rescue, we tell you the good, the bad and the ugly. We want each dog to get a forever home.”
Above all, rescue organizations stress that adopting a dog must be seen as a commitment for the lifetime of the dog.
“When you are adopting a dog, you are adopting a family member,” Tonkin said. “You are bringing a pet into your home for your own emotional well-being and you want to share that with that little companion animal.”
Local rescue organizations
Kirsten Johnson is a former Press intern. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.