Groups raise awareness of need for canine fostering.
By David Leone
WAKEFIELD — It seemed a happy scene: dogs of all shapes and sizes, padding around tents, under tables and sometimes on top of them, splashing in kiddy-sized pools of water.
And it was pleasant, but with a sad undertone. These dogs were mostly rescues.
“We pull dogs from the kill shelters and get them adopted,” said Shaun McMahaon of 4 Paw Lifesaver Rescue.
The event, situated in front of the just-opened Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming business at 13600 New Falls of Neuse Road, Sunday, was designed to raise awareness of dog fostering programs in the area.
“I finally found my calling. I wish I started this long ago,” said Debra Smith of Raleigh, who brought her 3-year-old foster dog, Pumba, to the event. Smith has two dogs and seven puppies she’s fostering, meaning she’ll take care of them until a suitable home can be found.
She also has a “foster failure,” a dog she fell in love with and took in herself. And she has two pit bulls and a St. Bernard she already owned.
Not everybody goes so overboard — and they don’t have to. The model for a foster family is just one dog. The rescue organizations evaluate the families, making sure they can take care of the dog. Once vetted, the foster family takes possession of the dog, with all expenses taken care of — shots, food, crates and the like.
“We are a network of volunteers looking to re-home dogs. We’re desperate for more foster families,” said Sarah White, co-founder of Bully Beasties and The Merit Pit Bull Foundation, pit bull rescue organizations.
“I feel like this breed has a bad reputation from irresponsible owners,” she added. “They’re actually rated in the top five percent. They’re truly some of the best dogs.”
Sunday’s event was termed Take a Walk on the Darkside, shining a light on the problem that darker colored dogs in particular have in getting adopted. The shelters are full of darker dogs, she said.
Jeremy Pitts explained why. When you photograph a black dog, much of the light is lost, making their features seem flat. So, when people see pictures of the animals online, they don’t seem to have the personality that lighter dogs do. “They tend to get overlooked,” Pitts lamented.
The local Woof Gang franchise has only been open a month, owner Sara Shinn said. There’s a self-operated doggie wash station and a larger dog grooming and wash area for dogs getting the royal treatment.
On a table up front are doggie delicacies resembling humans’ favorite desserts.
Shinn, a Wakefield resident, decided to open up after the owners of another Raleigh branch helped her solve her own dog’s digestive problems. Now, Paisley, her Great Dane, comes to work with her and sleeps on a pad on the floor behind the counter.
She promises more events to help dogs — and their owners — in the future.
“I thought I would love to help other people,” she said. “… and be around dogs!”
To find out more about the rescue and foster programs, e-mail [email protected] or see online: RottweilerHeartsRescue.org; petfinder.com/bullybeasties; TheMeritPitBullFoundation.com and SouthernBellePitBullRescue.orgs