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Their mother was a stray who’d had several litters before, but Christine Compton, president of Mission-based Forgotten Friends Texas Rescue RGV, rescued these lucky pups two weeks earlier. There were originally nine, but one foster family decided to keep its pup.
The agency works with Smith Ranch Kennels to send dozens of dogs from around the Valley to shelters in states around the country through the ASPCA.
“The only reason we could do this was because we had grant money. But this time there is no money. We’re still going to apply,” Compton said, adding that several fundraising ideas have fallen through because there aren’t enough people to help them. “I’m just so tired of begging people for money. I want somebody else to do it.”
Not counting Friday’s shipment, 295 dogs had been saved from the streets of the Valley in the last eight months. The loads are made possible through grants from Petco as well as the ASPCA. The Petco grant paid for a used van to transport the dogs and the ASPCA grant was meant to pay for the transport of 240 dogs over a year, or 20 a month. Still, just eight months in, the agency stretched its dollars to save 100 more than budgeted.
The whole project has been expanded from 2012 when Linda Smith, owner of Smith Ranch Kennels, used donations to send 15-20 dogs up north at a time. Prior to that, Forgotten Friends focused on local adoptions. But it isn’t easy, Compton said. A year ago, out of 150 dogs adopted, 18 percent were returned, she said.
Compton said before they started doing the transports, she often was frustrated through the local adoption process. For example, just last week she had two people looking at adopting two dogs. They both fell through the day before.
“This whole time, I’ve been trying to work with them and get dogs adopted, and then they fell through the day before, so luckily we had the transport, but imagine if I would have had the dogs at home waiting,” Compton said. “I mean, we’re getting adoptions, but it’s just few and far between.”
After Friday’s transport, she said the agency’s funds would be too depleted to make another run. Their used van broke down last month on the way back from dropping off a load of dogs in Florida. They now have to rent a van, which can cost $900 a trip. The total cost can range from $1,100 to $1,500 each load.
In Kentucky, those adopting dogs in higher demand, like shih tzus and puppies, pay a $350 fee. The extra money, called a legacy fee, goes to pay for a dog that’s less likely to get adopted, Compton said.
Friday morning, volunteers were working to get 63 dogs on the road. Volunteer foster families care for the puppies until they’re selected for transport, and each shelter up north has different criteria. Their first stop was Dallas, which turns around and flies out puppies to four other locations, including the Hamptons. However, dogs with flat faces can’t breathe well in high altitudes, and thus won’t be selected. After Dallas, the van headed for Kentucky. The Kentucky shelter has a standing order for dogs each month.
Compton said she doesn’t normally accept puppies, but she knew the folks in Kentucky would love them, so when she got the call for the eight black babies, she scooped them up and farmed them out to foster homes.
Also along for the trip on Friday was Peanut Butter Cup, a black and brown chihuahua, and her handful of puppies, which still were feeding off mom. Compton said Peanut Butter Cup and her puppies already had a foster home waiting for them until the puppies were old enough to adopt out to families.
A dachshund pulled from Palm Valley Animal Center already had a family waiting for him, having been chosen from his picture.
Speedy, a sweet-faced white mixed breed that loves attention, was so young he was bottle-fed when Forgotten Friends first got him. And Annie, a medium-sized dog with a fox face, was found through a local veterinarian. She was headed to Dallas.
Fluffy dogs, like shih tzus, are easy to adopt out, Compton said. She, herself, prefers chihuahuas.
All dogs underwent health checks Friday before transport by a veterinarian that charges a flat rate per load, cutting costs for the agency.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.