By Elise Franco
One local rescue group hopes to save at least 300 dogs from the Mahoning County pound by the end of the year.
Kim Best of Coitsville, a volunteer with For the Dogs, said so far the group’s 15 volunteers have pulled more than 200 dogs, saving them from the possibility of being euthanized.
The group, formed about five years ago by several Canine Crusaders volunteers, walks dogs housed at the pound and focuses mainly on pulling dogs from the pound and placing them in foster homes until they find someone to adopt them, Best said.
Canine Crusaders is also a Mahoning County-based volunteer dog rescue that takes dogs from the pound and finds foster and adoption placement.
“We just want to get them off death row,” she said. “The foster homes give the dogs a safe, loving home and shows them what it’s like to be in a loving environment until its ‘forever home’ is found.”
Best said right now the group has about 70 dogs in foster care that are ready for adoption, many of which are considered to be in the pit-bull family.
“The only hope for pit bulls or pit-bull mixes is to be taken out by a rescue or out of state,” she said. “If the pound is full, they start euthanizing for space, and the pit bulls go first.”
Best said the organization has about 10 foster homes all over the Mahoning Valley, and many of the dogs the nonprofit group takes are given to larger out-of-state rescue groups in Canada or Minnesota, Indiana and northeastern states.
She said all of these rescues must go through a thorough background check before the dogs are handed over.
“We’re doing what we can to change where we live,” she said. “We know we can’t save them all.”
Blaze Brush of Austintown, co-founder of For the Dogs, said local rescue groups such as his and Canine Crusaders are an absolute necessity in Mahoning County.
“In this area, stray dogs are a huge problem, and we’re trying to help control that,” he said. “We think it’s terrible that so many dogs are euthanized for no reason other than there’s no place to put them.”
Sean Toohey, deputy dog warden, said the county dog pound holds 56 dogs, and before For the Dogs began its rescue efforts, the cages were almost always full.
Toohey said about 20 dogs are at the pound.
“Since the dog walking and the adopting organizations came in, we’ve gone from 500 to 600 adoptions in past years to well over 1,000 in 2008,” he said.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if we did the same thing in 2009 and more this year.”
Toohey said the pound used to euthanize between 500 and 600 dogs each year, but that number dropped to just over 100 in 2009, and he expects it to be even lower by the end of 2010.
“Our euthanasia numbers have definitely gone down,” he said. “This year, if we hit 100, I’ll be shocked. We’re finding homes for all of them.”
Brush said though the effort is very difficult at times, it’s that type of statistic that makes their job worthwhile.
“When we lose one, those are so hard to take. The highs aren’t as high as the lows are low,” he said. “We’ve saved many dogs that wouldn’t have had a chance, but the need is so great that there’s always more.”
For more information about For the Dogs or to fill our an adoption application, visit www.forthedogs.petfinder.com.