Many dogs in Jasper County have homes, but for some, the Jasper County Animal Rescue League has become their home, but it is running out of room to accommodate them.
“Last month was really, really slow for us,” JCARL Facilities Director Kusteena Wolodkewitsch said. “Since the first of the year, we have taken in 110 dogs from our county, (and) 48 of the 110 were reclaimed. What that means is the rest of the dogs went into adoption, and they either been adopted out or they are still here.”
Wolodkewitsch said the hardest dogs to facilitate are large dogs.
“When we pick up a larger dog, they won’t fit in a small kennel so they have to go in a (den),” she said. “We only have six out here. When the six kennels are full, we hold them for seven days. After seven days, if they are not claimed, they get moved to adopt. If the 14 kennels are full, I can’t move any of the six up to adopt.”
She said larger dogs often have a big heart to match their size.
“The large dogs that we have are really good, great dogs,” Wolodkewitsch said. “My longest term dog I have is six months (named Danny).”
Danny is a 3-year-old hound mix, who loves to play with balls. Wolodkewitsch said there are volunteers who take him on walks, but he is in need of a good home.
While other animal shelters euthanize dogs, Wolodkewitsch made it JCARL’s goal to never euthanize any animal.
“When I get full, and it comes to a point that I have to make a decision, I try to move the dogs out to other shelters,” Wolodkewitsch said. “Preferably, I start looking at the no-kill rescues that I worked with before, and shelters that actually have room. Right now though, most shelters don’t have room to take these large dogs, so what I have done is mark these dogs down to $50, just to find them good homes.”
Although the dogs are a reduced price, Wolodkewitsch said it does not mean JCARL will give them away to anybody. There is a process potential adopters have to go through to insure the dogs have a good home.
“Just because they are $50 doesn’t mean that anybody can come in and just adopt the dog,” she said. “They have to go through the adoption process, they have to meet the dog, make sure it’s a good fit (and) if they have a dog, we encourage them to sign up for an appointment so they can bring their dog out and do a meet and greet — to make sure the dogs get along. And (we) educate them before they take the new one home.”
She urges people to come and visit the animals at JCARL.
“If people would just come out and give the animals a chance — meet the animals (and) get to know the animals, (they) are appreciative. The dogs that have been out of the shelter, most of them haven’t had the silver spoon in the mouth so they are appreciative — they really are. They are great dogs, I can’t say that enough.”
When a dog adoption happens, Wolodkewitsch said she likes to think of it as saving three lives.
“Generally, when people say, ‘You adopt a dog you save a life,’ I like to say when you adopt a dog out here, you actually save three lives,” Wolodkewitsch said. “You save the life of the dog that was sitting in the adopt that you adopted. You save the life of the dog that was waiting for that adopt run. Then you save the life of the next dog that is going to come in to that stray run, that we’re now able to take in.”
In February, JCARL had a decrease in adoptions. In January, Wolodkewitsch said the organization had a little more than 90 adoptions, and last month they had 38 adoptions — a majority of them being cats.
“We were doing good, everything was going good until last month,” she said. “Once the adoptions numbers fell, then (it got more difficult).”
Wolodkewitsch said a majority of animals donated were given to them by owners who cannot afford to feed their pet anymore, but she wanted to let the community know JCARL has a program for pet owners who require temporary assistance.
“When people come out to owner surrender, we like to find out why their owners are surrendering them,” Wolodkewitsch said. “We just don’t want to take their dog. Maybe they lost their job and the they can’t afford to feed their dog that month. We have a food pantry, so sometimes people come up to owner surrender and it’s, ‘I can’t feed my dog, I just lost my job (and) I can’t afford the dog’ — well let me help you for a couple of months. Come out and we’ll give you food so you can keep your dog. If it gets worse, contact us. If it’s behavioral issues, we’ll try to give them advice.”
The food pantry is primarily ran off donations, and they are currently in need of wet cat food and chew toys.
The busiest season for JCARL is spring and summer. She said she often finds dogs left on their property, abandoned by their owners.
“We can pull in at 6 o’clock in the morning, and I see dogs inside of our play area, where people just leave them in there, or they will tie them to the doors,” Wolodkewitsch said.
Wolodkewitsch would like to thank the community for the tremendous amount of support the they shown towards JCARL.
JCARL is located at 5411 Liberty Avenue. For more information, call (641)792-5407.