The Dog Liberator™

The Dog Liberator rescues abandoned dogs throughout the Southeast. Based in Central Florida, this non-profit organization fosters all of their dogs in a home environment. Founded in 2009, all dogs are fully vetted, spayed or neutered prior to adoption. The Dog Liberator focuses in rescuing the herding breed, which consists of Border Collies, Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Aussies, Collies, and Deaf/Blind Dogs.

Walking the Green Miles of Georgia

Walking the Green Miles of Georgia
Khaz and Athena

Last week was quite an experience for me, and my family.  I rented a van and put 2,000 on it driving from Deltona to Atlanta, and visiting as many shelters as I could.

Immediately, my experience became humbling.  As I drove, I saw signs and every city or county reminded me of a dog that I once saved from there.  Gainesville, Jacksonville, Lake City, Augusta, Rome. I couldn’t believe how many hours I was driving, and how far these dogs traveled to get to me.  I have always admired and appreciated our volunteer transporters, but after this trip, my appreciation tripled, and I was barely out of the state of Florida.  The trip up to Atlanta consisted of my kids hearing me shout out the names of dogs and their cities.  At one point I was turning it into the Name Game song, but my kids were not impressed.  “Bart Bart, Lake City, Bananafana Fee Fi Fo Fi Bart!”  It just wasn’t working for me.

Once I arrived in Atlanta, I found myself driving around in circles most of the time, depending on a useless GPS and constantly calling Steve, Khaz or Vicki to help me.  One simple trip to a mall with my daughter Sarah consisted of  just two right-hand turns and you’re there.  You’d think I could find my way back?  No, I was about 15 miles off course.  I was not severely punished for my lack of direction, but I was the laugh of the town!

I enjoyed good company, it was wonderful to spend time with Vicki and Kathy again.  Meeting Khaz and Steve was a bonus.  I was constantly reminded what a great team we have.  I also had the pleasure of meeting Amber, the owner of K9 Coach.  I was very impressed with her self-confidence and business savvy.  It was no surprise that after I left, we were told that CNN was going to feature Amber in a story about women-owned businesses.  Amber started K9 Coach from a parking lot, I started The Dog Liberator in my home!

Atlanta Aquarium

Being in charge of a rescue is not a glamorous job!  It’s filled with ups and downs, and you never know what’s around the corner.  Many times I’ve thought about getting a job at Wendy’s instead… so much easier.  While in Atlanta, Hopscotch was bit by a pygmy rattlesnake and I was on the phone with Valuvet most of that evening.  Even though the drama followed me, I stayed focused on my task to walk the pounds.  I can’t tell you how many times my kids asked, “you call this a vacation?”  I felt bad for them, but we did sneak in the Atlanta Aquarium, and Stone Mountain.  The food in Atlanta is amazing, the Marietta Diner was a major hit!

Sarah invents Dra-ma-way

My phone was constantly ringing, emails, texts… you name it, I was busy.  At one point I felt like I was juggling cats.  Emily Kennedy called in and reported that my dogs were doing well.  Little Red (Sharon) was being affectionate, Bart was growing, China was waiting by Sarah’s door wondering where she was, Lady Di had stopped eating, and Ozzie had no idea we were even gone!  Frustrated with all of the commotion, my daughter invented a new product for me!  It’s called Dra-ma-way.  Hilarious!

Spending time with TDL Georgia folks was awesome.  Seeing Paw Paw again was so great, he’s huge!  Seeing Daisy again and meeting Raider was wonderful, but I spent most of my time with Athena.  She is one awesome dog!  It was nice to get away and be with friends.

Peggy, Walking the Green Mile

Our first stop was Hall County Animal Services.  We have rescued at least 35 dogs from Hall County in less than a year.  It was a pleasure to meet the Baxleys and their new foster, Diva.  What a dog!  Peggy and James Baxley have fostered many awesome dogs for us.

I also had the honor of meeting Justine, the adoption coordinator.  What I saw at Hall County was people getting the job done, i.e.,  cleaning cages, feeding dogs, and meeting adopters.  Justine is the type of person that doesn’t complain or give up, instead, she is an idea person.  Always brainstorming on how to help the dogs.  Finding Fosters is their biggest hurdle right now, and that’s what Justine is focused on.

Vicki, Justine, Me and Kathy

If only our audience understood how many dogs we could save if we had a foster.  Obviously, if you’ve been following The Dog Liberator, you yourself should know that our dogs don’t stay in foster care for very long.  Very rarely do we have a dog that lingers for more than a month, in some cases, dogs are adopted within one week.  If you live near Hall County, Georgia, stop by and visit Justine and get involved.  Fostering just one dog a year does make a difference!  For details about fostering for TDL visit this page.

Our next stop was Gordon County Animal Services.  Kathy and I drove for hours before we reached this rual shelter tucked away off the beaten path.  All I could think about was how hard it must be for the general public to find this place.  Location, location, location.  If it wasn’t for Kathy, I’d still be driving around in circles!

Doc Holiday

We have rescued at least 29 dogs from Gordon County, located in Calhoun, Georgia.  I can’t tell you how I felt when I glanced at the kennel where Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp once sat, depressed and scared.  Or the photo that I saw of Lady Truelove.  I had to pause for a moment and realize what a dream come true it is for these dogs, the shelter employees and volunteers to witness the before and after.  I’m very humble about my job, it’s a job.  I take it seriously, and we all work very hard, but the difference that it makes for a dog in one of these shelters to get out alive, be transported and adopted by TDL is bigger than even I realized.  Until you actually walk the green mile for yourself, you have no way of understanding how dismal it really is, how impossible it can be to save just one dog yet it happens.

One simple thing sets TDL apart for these employees and volunteers.  While they work every single day trying to help an almost lost cause, the mention of “TDL” can make a difference.  While they watch hundreds of dogs being put down, the joy of following a TDL dog from transport to foster to adoption, and to be part of the adoption updates helps make their job worth it.

Very sweet boy who has never seen a brush

So while all of you are enjoying your adopted dog, please understand that it’s the employees and volunteers, like Sherrie Ward Ford and many others from these shelters that made the adoption of that dog possible.  My chat with Sherrie was a very emotional one.  We must take turns lifting each other up when everything tells you there’s not much to look forward to.  Send in your adoption updates…. they are more valuable than you realize.  Your updates make people smile.

Sherry Ford hugs a big teddy bear!

Let’s face it, my job is a cake walk.  I get all of the happy endings.  I reap the reward of identifying and saving gorgeous adoptable dogs, while these folks work in the trenches day in and day out wondering why… why people do not spay/neuter, why people mistreat animals, why people don’t do something as simple as feed their dogs.  While the situation at Gordon County needs help because of their location, the animal abuse and neglect is everywhere.

 

 

speechless

It was another busy day for Vicki, but somehow we managed to visit Clayton County Animal Services in Jonesboro, Georgia.  This is where Huckleberry and many other wonderful dogs came from.  We’ll never forget his story.

While I was there, a gorgeous little pup was brought in, because of a potentially dangerous domestic violence situation.  A white poodle was rushed in by an animal control officer.  The poodle was in bad shape.  The matting around her face was so severe her ears were swollen.  I suppose that I’ve gotten dogs in that bad of shape in the past, but you never get used to it.  I met two bull dogs who were abused.  Recently, in the news, this shelter has received animals who have been burned by cigarettes on their backs.  The Captain there believes that it’s an initiation ceremony used by local gangs to gain entrance.

The staff at Clayton County was top notch professional.  They were very busy.  The facility itself was never designed to be a shelter, and plans for a new shelter in the future was exciting.  What I liked the most about this shelter was two very simple things.  Open air, meaning windows and fans everywhere, and one small container of water/bleach mixture at the entrance of the pound itself.  Everyone walking in must step into the mixture to sanitize their shoes, on the way in and on the way out.  I believe that should be mandatory at every shelter and pound.  That tiny ounce of prevention is huge for the health of the animals.  My trip two years ago to Hale County Humane Society educated me on how important open air is to the animals as well.

I really wanted to take photographs of the facility and the dogs, but I had to wait for the Captain’s okay.  He pulled me aside and explained how many people sneak into the facility, just waiting for a dog to take a dump so they can photograph how horrible of a facility it is!  I’ve heard that before.  The people trying to ruin the reputation of a facility like this are certifiably insane!

gorgeous

Just an hour ago, Bart got a hold of a roll of toilet tissue.  He and Ozzie shredded it… it’s all over the place.  I’m going to need a shop vac to clean this mess up, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad foster home!  Every shelter, rescue or pound has times to clean up, times to feed and times to exercise.  If it’s not up to your standards, shut the front door and Volunteer!

Please take a moment and realize that if everyone spay/neutered their dogs, vaccinated their dogs, and took care of their animals, these shelters, pounds and rescues would be empty.  Wouldn’t be nice to visit empty buildings where dogs were once kept, shout out loud and hear my own voice echo off the walls.  Not in my lifetime.

The Captain, Amy and Vicki

While we shared stories about special dogs that came from Clayton County, the Captain made it very clear that the real heroes are the volunteers.  “This is my job, I come to work every day, and I get paid to do this, but these ladies over here are volunteers, and they are here every day trying to save these animals.  They are the ones that makes a difference here.”

By the time I was back in Florida I learned that the majority of all of these dogs that I met had been rescued or adopted!  Amy Grayson Adams reported that at least 25 dogs were transported to safety.  While there, a stray that had not yet been evaluated was waiting.  Vicki entered the crate, and showed me how she evaluates new dogs who have no temperament history.  I learned later that he too was adopted.

Here is the video that I shared on Facebook with Vicki and this new boy.  “Patience Grasshopper”, is the key!

After I posted this video, we did receive some comments about the other dogs crying in the background, and comments about all of the dogs there screaming for out attention.  No worries, they all got our attention, we walked the green mile and greeted every one of these dogs, but it proves that people just don’t understand how bad it really is out there.  I walked a shelter many many years ago, and to be honest, all I remember is a lot of animals screaming, the sound echoing off the floors and the walls, the smell of urine and poop, and the despairing look on the faces of the staff.  Everything I learned during this visit, I already knew.  But I could not write about it in this manner without actually seeing it again for myself.

brainstorming with Vicki, Amy and Maria

It was very disappointing that I couldn’t visit Habersham, Athens GA, Athens AL, Fulton, or Gwinett County, maybe next time.  But I knew that I had put my kids through enough.  “Is that all we’re going to do on vacation, is visit dog pounds Mommy?”  Ugh!  I knew I had gone too far when my 14 year-old son, Ryan started singing “The wheels on the bus go round and round.”  He was definitely becoming unglued!  We channel surfed Sirius Satellite Radio, and I tried to listen to the oldies most of the time, singing at the top of my lungs, which irritated my kids even more.  We rarely agreed on a song, but when we did, it was a moment to treasure.  On the way home my 9 year-old daughter, Sarah, wanted to do nothing but talk.  Ugh!  “Mommy, we should have some grown up girl bonding time now.”  Double Ugh!  I don’t know where she gets her ideas.  Quickly changing the subject, I tried to sing Allouette a few times.  She likes it, only because she doesn’t know what it means!

Vicki at the Marietta Diner

You may not believe me, but there is one thing I clearly feel in my bones, and that is the days for the puppy mills are counting down, i.e., soon it will simply not be a profitable business.  We have succeeded in educating “adopt do not shop”.  We are making an impact on spay/neuter.  It’s small, it’s slow, but it’s happening.  Shelters, pounds and rescues must continue screaming not just adopt, but you can adopt a purebred, go see for yourself.

Buying is being frowned upon, while Adopting is becoming is becoming cool.

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