December 2, 2021

Volunteers go extra mile for rescue dogs

Katie Keyser/contributing photographer

Diane Purvis of Homer sits with foster dog Ava and two dogs she owns, the mutt Bruiser and Lhasa Apso Buddy.

Paulette Chandler doesn’t mess around when she’s moving a rescue dog from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Homer.

The Tennessee woman works with a network of about 20 people — all volunteers — who will drive a dog in one to two days from the South to Hubbard’s Hounds dog rescue in Homer.

When a transport is in progress — each person driving for an hour or hour and a half — Chandler has her cell phone to her hip, as the volunteers are within a message group, talking back and forth as they make their way north.

“I have strict rules,” said Chandler, of Knoxville, who works with several shelters. “Dogs are double leashed, with a slip lead. Some of these dogs are very scared and I don’t want them to run off. They have to have all their vaccinations. They have to be quarantined in a temporary foster home for two weeks before crossing state lines. They need a certified health certificate from the vet or they can’t cross state lines.”

If animals are in a crate, everything has to be wiped down with bleach before another animal uses the crate. Specific sprays are used on car upholstery if there is no crate, she said.

Chandler, a retired elementary school teacher, has been a transport organizer about four years. Sue Hubbard, director of Hubbard’s Hounds dog rescue service in Homer, is a rescue she works with.

Hubbard and her late sister-in-law, Kim, started the rescue in 2008 after fostering a couple of rescue dogs.

“We learned what we wanted to do and what we didn’t want to do,” said Hubbard, a business office manager at Walden Place in Cortlandville.

The non-profit rescues the dogs no one else will take, Hubbard said.

“I have taken a dog that was going to be put down because he needed to be an only dog, dogs that have had heart worm and were possibly going to die without treatment, old dogs, sick dogs or whoever needs me, as long as I can afford to treat them,” she said.

Hubbard relies on a 15-volunteer force to provide foster homes for animals.

More are needed, said Chandler.

“We had more in the past, but people need a break sometimes or decide it’s not the right avenue for them,” Hubbard said. “They stay with the foster until it is their time. I never put a dog down for space. We just don’t take any more if there isn’t anywhere to put them.”

“There are so many dogs being put down every day or are abandoned,” Chandler said.

The South has few spay and neuter clinics and little legislation to ensure animals are neutered, she said.

Amanda Ramsey of Memphis, Tennessee, is a part-time truck driver who does independent rescue work.

“My focus is on street dogs,” she said. “A lot of times I will see them in the road. A lot of times people will tag me in a post (with a dog that needs a home). If I can, I will help them.”

She will board an abandoned dog with a woman she knows or pays for boarding in a vet office. She will post about the dog in need on Facebook, looking for a rescue to take them.

She has worked with Chandler and Hubbard for four years. “They are great,” she said. The two helped her find homes for her first two rescue dogs: Roscoe, a shepherd mix that went to Hubbard’s Hounds, and Mallory, a pit bull that went to a pitbull rescue in Knoxville.

“Susan is a really good rescue. She takes a lot of our Southern dogs,” she said.

“Susan Hubbard is amazing,” Chandler said. “She pulled a lab that was going to be put down. She had to have two to three surgeries. The bill was in the thousands. She paid the vet bill. The dog was adopted by a lawyer.”

“I love it. It’s a passion,” Ramsey said. “I want to see animals find a good home and get out of the situation they are in.”

Shelters post on Facebook animals that need a home. Chandler keeps an eye out for free dogs on the internet, getting them before dog-fight promoters on the lookout for free dogs as “bait” to train their dogs, Chandler said.

Hubbard has developed a network now and has taken dogs from North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and Kentucky.

Chandler has arranged at least 100 transports. Her job is to put together the network to make a transport happen.

“Facebook is a big tool. We have transport pages. The I-81 Transport is a big page. Drivers are monitored and screened. We post the days and the legs and people will comment and sign up for a leg,” she said.

Kathie Beale of Cortlandville is a volunteer transporter, working independently of shelters. She sees a need for an animal to be moved on Facebook, through a New York Transporter page, and will respond. She’s transportered eight animals in the last six months.

“I get so involved with animals. It’s stressful to me,” she said. But transporting animals who need a home is not stressful.

“They are going to a forever home or they are going to a rescue shelter, so they won’t be put to sleep,” Beale said. “I don’t have to worry about them. I know they are going to be OK.”

Diane Purvis, a SUNY Cortland staffer and part-timer at Country Max, is a foster care provider for Hubbards Hounds. She has Ava, a pit mix, in her care now, who was transported from the South. The animal is sweet and gels well with Purvis’ other two dogs, Bruiser, a mutt, and Buddy, a 12-year-old Lhasa Apso.

“Ava is my foster,” she said of the young dog, between 2 and 3 years old.

Purvis will care for Ava, who is recovering from heart worm, until she is ready to be adopted.

Purvis had another foster for five months, Maggie, also treated for heart worm, until Maggie was adopted in May.

“I love dogs,” Purvis said. They’re fun and have wonderful personalities.

Beale has three cats, a dog, six chickens, one rooster and two ducks. One cat, Gus, was adopted from a transporter network from North Carolina. “When I saw his picture, he was so pitiful looking,” she said.

Now he’s a 20-pound troublemaker who likes to have fun with her other cats, she laughed.

Her first transport job was helping two rabbits go from California, to Maine or Massachusetts, Beale said. Two little girls met the bunnies in a rescue in California but moved East and wanted to adopt them.

Beale picked them up in Syracuse and took them to Herkimer.

“Everybody is a volunteer,” she said. “You volunteer your gas, your car, your time. But once in a while, someone will throw in gas money.”

That was the case during one transport, but no one took the money, Beale said.

All the people involved in the transport are in a messenger group communicating by telephone. “That’s the fun part. You get pictures back. You find out what they are doing.”