Local pet rescue groups transport dogs to northern states

June 19—Several thousand unwanted dogs in Morgan and Lawrence counties found themselves in loving homes after two local animal rescue groups helped them get to the Northeast and other States.

The population of unwanted and stray pets is lower in these states, creating demand for haul dog adoptions, local rescue advocates said.

Kimberly Carpenter founded Changing 42, a Lawrence County animal rescue group, and she says he’s transported thousands of dogs to states including Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Wyoming and Michigan . The group has transported a few cats, but mainly handles dogs.

“They don’t have the (unwanted) population in the North that we have here. They take better care of their dogs in the North,” Carpenter said. “They have to have kennel licenses up there, and they have sitters who come in, if they have a kennel, to check on their place to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do up there ( to avoid over-breeding).”

The widespread use of microchips in many northern states is also helping to reduce shelter populations by making it easier to reunite stray animals with their owners.

Mellisa Barnett founded a Morgan County animal rescue group, Paws 52, in 2018. It only transports dogs. Barnett said in 2021 they transported over 400 dogs, 150 of which were adult dogs. Since 2018, she said, they’ve transported more than 1,000 dogs to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

“In the North, they have better laws, and they have very strict adoption procedures. They go to the house and check the house, they meet the other pets in the house. All the rescues we work with the animals are microchipped there,” Barnet said.

Paws 52 gets most of its dogs from Morgan County Animal Shelter or Lawrence County Animal Shelter.

“We pick up a few parasites and when people contact us and ask for help,” Barnett said.

Change 42 gets the dogs in a number of ways, including surrenders from the owner and the Morgan County Animal Shelter in Hartselle. Carpenter said if Southerners spayed and neutered their pets, it would help rescue groups like his by reducing the number of unwanted animals.

Changer 42 performed up to four transports per week, Carpenter said. The volunteers’ private vehicles are generally used for transportation. Carpenter owns an SUV and the ability to house pets depends on the size and age of the dogs.

For transportation to Pennsylvania, Carpenter rented a van and transported 58 dogs that had already been pre-adopted. When she arrived at the facility, there was a volunteer for each dog to help match the adopted dog with its new owner.

“So you see at least 58 people waiting for us to get there with this load of dogs. That tells you the value of dogs in the North versus the value of dogs in the South,” Carpenter said.

Paws 52 does not generally handle long-distance transportation and instead picks up pets to take to a drop-off point. For example, it will take between two and 30 dogs per week for Priceville and hand them over to transportation services such as Animals on Board and Rescue Riders for the trip north.

Barnett said their transported dogs went to foster homes. Carpenter said most of the rescue groups they work with are also foster-based, and the dogs go directly to a foster home. She said her group does not send their dogs to just any organization.

“We check them like they check their adopters. We want to know if it’s a foster-based rescue, we want to know what reviews they’ve had, we want to see their applications that their adopters We want to know, if it doesn’t work out with their home up north, if they’re going to come back to the rescue,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said Changing 42 volunteers put a lot of time, money and effort into the rescues. She said they didn’t want to take a dog out of a shelter and then end up in a shelter. The group is able to track the dogs online after they arrive in their new home.

“It’s wonderful to see a dog that comes from the side of the road (going to) lying on someone’s couch. That’s our goal. That’s what we do,” Carpenter said.

Barnett said she saves because she loves animals.

“I feel like we can help them, so we’re doing everything we can. I wish I could do more,” she said.

Carpenter likens animal rescue to an addiction.

“Once you realize the problems that exist, it’s hard to turn your back,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever save dogs. As long as I’m physically able, I feel like it’s going to continue.”

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