Lakeland Animal Shelter hosts Texas strays
TOWN OF DELAVAN—They do not bark with a Texas accent, but they were a little freaked out about the snow.
Last week, the Texas Nine, a group of Houston, Texas, dogs arrived at the Lakeland Animal Shelter in the town of Delavan.
The dogs are part of a new shelter initiative to open its doors to animals beyond the shelter's boundaries.
“Our first and foremost commitment is to the animals in our area,” said Lakeland Director Kristen Perry. “We wouldn't turn anyone down in our service area.”
However, the shelter has had remarkably good luck adopting out dogs, and kennel space is often available.
Lakeland is an “adoption guarantee” shelter.
Neither the amount of time an animal has been at the shelter, nor the amount of space the shelter has available makes a difference in an animal's fate, Perry said.
If the animal is adoptable, the shelter keeps it. Occasionally, aggression issues or end-stage medical problems mean an animal is euthanized. Last year, out of the 800 dogs that came through the shelter, only four had to be killed.
In the past, the shelter has accepted dogs from rescue groups in Wisconsin and Illinois, but it wants to consider pets from a larger geographical region when kennel space and financial resources are available.
The Houston rescue group holding the dogs paid for the volunteers' plane trips to Texas and for the rental car for the return trip. The only local cost was the gas for the return trip.
“Down there, their stray dog problem is like our stray cat problem here,” Perry said.
The spay and neuter message just hasn't “taken hold” with the Texas community as it has in other areas of the United States, Perry said.
Tens of thousands of dogs in the Houston are euthanized every year.
Volunteers in “feeder groups” put out food for stray dogs. When space opens in one of the rescue groups, volunteers bring in the friendliest dogs from the feeder groups.
Perry described the Texas Nine as “super sweet.”
“They're really nice sizes, too,” Perry said. “They're not so small they don't feel like real dogs and not so big that they knock over all the furniture.”
The shelter has a waiting list for such dogs, the people on the waiting list were called first.
Perry said none of the Texas Nine bark with a twang, but when they first arrived, they were a little suspicious of the cold white stuff covering the ground.
“Now they're happy to be cheeseheads,” Perry said.