As soon as he sees her approach his cage, Red barks and jumps, rapidly wagging his tail with eagerness.
His trainer, Dawn Barer, is prepared for the overly excited pitbull mix, with two leashes: one to use and one to distract him.
Red, a one-eyed, 5-year-old, owner-surrendered dog from Texas, has hoped for his “furever” home since arriving Aug. 29 by van with Three Little Pitties All Breed Rescue at the Blue Mountain Humane Society, according to BMHS Executive Director Sara Archer.
He is just one animal the no-kill shelter has taken to help re-home faster, Archer said, as BMHS increasingly has partnered with nonprofits and agencies countrywide such as Three Little Pitties.
“Everybody agrees the shelter is no place for an animal, especially long term,” Archer said.
After staying at the Pasadena Animal Shelter in Texas since January, Archer said, Three Little Pitties stepped in to transport Red to BMHS. And, Archer noted, he’s had some other obstacles. The dog’s eye was surgically removed before his arrival due to an unknown injury and might frustrate him, as he can’t see as well anymore, she said.
Barer, who’s worked with Red almost since his arrival, said he enjoys pulling on his leash, thus the extra one she carried, and going on their multi-daily walks. She also said he was “hyper.”
“It can come off as intimidating,” Barer said, adding he wasn’t aggressive toward animals, children or bicycles and had been “very responsive” in play groups with one or two other dogs. She also said he liked chewing on his blanket, but was house-trained.
Since Red has now approached his nearly three-month anniversary at Blue Mountain Humane Society, joining the ranks of the long-termers, staff, including Archer and Barer, are concerned he may need to be moved soon to facilitate finding his home. It’s a rather common practice among shelters, Archer said.
“Sometimes, it’s about rotating your retail,” she said, adding it may sound odd, but transferring animals among shelters worked.
Occasionally, an animal’s “people” weren’t in the vicinity of their original shelter or shelters.
For instance, she said, only one dog remained from a flight Oct. 3 out of Oklahoma and Texas, which brought 25 dogs due to flooding. The transfer was the fourth-largest flight BMHS has taken, she said, due to various reasons, such as space. She said local animals have first dibs.
Animal shelters are usually cleared during disasters such as flooding, she said, to enable space for owned pets of displaced families. The remaining dog from the floods, Rosemary, is a 2-year-old Boxer mix from Texas.
Partnering agencies increasingly have become familiar with transferring animals out of necessity — due to disaster or well-being — for humans, their furry children and furry orphans.
“We learned a lot from what happened with (Hurricane) Katrina and every disaster since then, in every storm in any part of the U.S.,” Archer said.
Various shelters and nonprofits began telling each other how many animals they could take and whether they could provide transportation, she said.
Re-homing animals as quickly as possible is a necessity, Archer said, and workers do “everything humanly possible to determine” whether an incoming animal had an owner and tracking down them down, which was like detective work. If owners couldn’t be identified or found, steps were taken.
“Then the game is: ‘How fast can we get them in a home?’” she said.
After a week of not getting adopted, Archer said, the animal’s kennel location was considered to enable him or her to “present their best self.” For instance, if they were near another who was making them aggressive or near the back, workers would move them.
After two weeks, Archer said, workers would consider updating the animal’s photos and profile, and perhaps add a video. If three weeks passed?
“Now what?” Archer said. “Do we call Dawn (Barer) and see if she can work with him (or her)? At what point do we reach out to partners to see if maybe a change of scenery will help?”
She noted pitbulls were typically the toughest to transfer “because everybody has them.”
Archer said four dogs recently were sent to the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society because leaders there said they could take the pups that weren’t adopted at BMHS. But she said she’s still hopeful Red won’t need to be transferred, as a family last weekend showed interest and introduced their dogs to him, regardless of his challenges.
“He’s got more hurdles to overcome (than other pitbulls),” she said. “And a one-eyed, 5-year-old pitbull is even more challenging (to place). He’s got some behaviors that can be challenging.
“Maybe it’s a vet who’s looking for a running buddy. This is a dog who has shown some remarkable resiliency.”