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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saving the forgotten pets.. one at a time.

My last post was about dogs in boarding with the focus on Miami dogs. I had also written a piece for regarding the issue…

Now that you know there is a problem. I want to tell you about someone who is doing something about it.
The Forgotten Pet Advocates is a non profit 501c3 that was created to help the dogs and cats left in boarding that had no one to advocate for them. The group is in the Houston, TX area and they exist to help those who truly have been forgotten.
I was lucky enough to speak to Marlene Marino who formed the group. Prior to creating The Forgotten Pet Advocates, she worked with rescues and fundraising for multiple years. One day, she found out about a dog named Faith and Faith’s very best friend Robin. Faith had been in a boarding kennel for seven years and Robin had been there with her for five years. Marlene knew that was wrong and she set out to help them. She started to visit the duo and was visiting them three times a week over the course of a month working to get them used to her. When they were ready, she took them home. It took time and patience and now the girls are living with Marlene’s other rescues and spoiled rotten. I want for you to stop for a moment and think about how it must have been for those dogs. Waiting in a kennels for years. Can you imagine living in a cage for years?
“I only wish I could give them back their years that humans failed them.” – Marlene

Gwinn and Rowdy have been in a boarding kennel their entire lives- they have NEVER had a real home. They were put into the kennel as babies and have been waiting for 6 years for a real home. They are brother and sister and very bonded so they must be adopted together. You can read more about them here... and here.
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates
***** Please make sure to read the special note at the end of this about these two. 
After rescuing Faith and Robin, Marlene realized that there were no groups to advocate for the animals stuck in boarding. So, she did what only made sense to do- she created the Forgotten Pet Advocates. When she began, there were animals who had been stuck for extraordinarily long times in boarding and no one was helping them. One cat had been in boarding for 11 years and one dog had been stuck for over 8 years. Now the longest cat has been there about 3 months. There are many dogs still stuck in boarding that group is working to help now. The current longest has been there 8 years, there are two at six years, one at four years, one at two years, a few at about a year and others who have been there months. In the last year, the group has had over 70 adoptions. Progress is being made – the Forgotten Pet Advocates is making a massive difference in the lives of the forgotten and the adoptions- the true saves are what keep her going.

Willy is young and playful and wanting a home of his own. He was  dumped over the fence of the boarding kennel with his siblings. You can read more abut him here .. and here.
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates

Marlene works with boarding kennels owners who come to her because they want help. She says “Most kennel owners want help. If they didn't care, the animals that got dumped - they have every right to call animal control - to take them away - and allow the space for a paying customer. Some, however are paying customers, a rescue that pulled a dog and cannot get it adopted. I preach and preach - do NOT pull a dog and put it in boarding - that is NOT rescue. It is slow abuse - mentally - physically and emotionally on the dog! But, I will help the dog or cat - not necessarily the rescuer.”
Dogs and cats are left in boarding for multiple reasons. It may be due to lack of funds by the owner, irresponsible or uneducated rescuers, and sometimes animals are just tossed over the boarding kennel fence. The kennel owners take the necessary legal action against the owner of the animals or the rescue in order to have the animal become their property. Once legal ownership is taken over by the kennel owner, they can either legally drop the animal at animal control or adopt them out. The group works with the kennel owners to help pay for vetting and to network the animals for adoption when they are contacted to help. What the group is doing is preventing animals from being put back into a system where they may lose their lives in overcrowded shelters, keep them from being euthanized and to help them not spend the remainder of their lives stuck in kennels with no hope for freedom.

Billy has been looking for a home for 2 years. Billy was born in October of 2009. He loves people and loves to play. He is seeking an active family with a great yard for him. He is looking for a cat free home, but he loves other dogs and would appreciate a home with some children to play with. Please see his Facebook page here.  with more here. 
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates

Marlene tells me that it is harder to adopt out the animals stuck in boarding because people are under the false belief that they are safe. “…..and our animals are NOT safe and they are slowly being ripped apart inside. Day in - day out - they see the paying customers come and go...families happy to see them...and one ever comes for them....they wait and wait and wait....” People are paying more attention to the dogs and cats on death row since their needs are easily seen as immediate due to a possible end to life in a matter of days or hours.
When dogs are kept in boarding kennels for extended periods of time, problems do occur. Dogs are social animals and they want to be with others so leaving them in kennels can cause ‘kennel crazy’. The first sign is for dogs to spin. I have seen this in dogs kept in long term kenneling situations… it is sad. If you are not familiar with this – think about the last time that you went to a zoo. Did you see animals pacing? Walking in circles? They have nothing else to do so dogs will do repeated motions such as cage spinning. It is not a sign of mental well being to see that type of behavior. If you have a dog- just take a moment and imagine if your beloved pet was left in a boarding kennel – for so long that they began to mentally deteriorate. Imagine your own dog spinning in a kennel with no hope in site. It is upsetting isn’t it? 
Kaycee is about a year and a half. She is not a very large girl - weighing only about 20 pounds. She is very sweet and fully vetted. All she needs how is a good home. You can see her Facebook link here.  and more here. 
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates

Because the animals are left without the needed interactions for months and years, the group has needed to find a way to best work with them. What they do is have one volunteer per dog. The volunteers visit their dog and at first they go very slow. They have a big job in that they need to work with the animals to get them used to walks with leashes and car rides and all of the other normal things dogs deal with in normal home situations. They work up to the point where they can get them to adoption events. The process is slow because it is a one on one process – they do not have enough volunteers- but, what they are doing is working and they are getting results.

I asked Marlene about running a non profit dealing with this type of problem.  “A non-profit is a lot to keep up with, but rewarding. Yes, each community needs a group to represent the ones rotting in kennels and needs to educate the rescue community - this is not the way to go....but then have heard of the rescuers with cages stacked to the ceiling in their homes full with dogs and cats...they turn into hoarders....themselves....”

Marlene understands that boarding kennels do have to be used at times with rescues. Sometimes a rescue might not have a choice when a dog is returned years after adoption and there is no open foster home. At times dogs may be returned and need to be the only dog so a boarding kennel makes sense in that a safe, proper foster home must be found. When boarding is used, the rescue needs to be working with the dogs. The rescue needs to be walking, visiting, working with and taking the dog to adoption events. This must be done while a dog is in boarding until that dog is adopted. The rescue must make sure that the dog has treats, toys and a good bed to sleep on as well as any and all medical care needed. Rescues who use boarding kennels for lengths of time need to be involved in the care of the dogs.

Chato is about five years old and around 65 pounds. He is  house trained and has been through obedience training.  He is a very sweet and smart dog. Chato might be ok with a female dog around his size, but otherwise would do best as an only child. You can see his link on Facebook here... and more here. 
All rights to the above photo belong to The Forgotten Pet Advocates

Dogs and cats are being left in for profit boarding kennels all over. This is not unique to the Houston area. When you see online rescue using boarding kennels you need to be asking questions. “And when rescuers post..need funds for boarding... I say for what? What is your plan? How long will they be there? Days turn into months, months turn into years. It can really make me angry..but I help the animal ...not the losers that do.” Those using boarding kennels need to be looking at where they are leaving their animals – and those who are not close need to be asking about the quality of places being used.  “If the kennel does not want you to see where they are staying - do NOT leave your dog there.” Above all,  “… do not pull a dog off of death row - toss into boarding - with no plan after that.” She also does state "Most animal rescuers have the best intentions and just get into jams. We have to remember quality not quantity."

I wish Marlene and her group the best and I hope that those reading will understand the repercussions of leaving dogs/cats in boarding. I also hope that those reading will be motivated to stop bad rescue and support those who work so hard to save the victims of it. If you are in the Houston, TX area and can help volunteer, please contact them. Please check out their website for available dogs and cats needing homes as well as ways to donate... and please help share the pictures of their dogs and cats needing homes.. by simply sharing a link on social media, you may help find a home for a dog or cat in need - that share button can be a very powerful tool. 

You can also like their Facebook page and help share the dogs and cats that they are advocating for.

****** I need to add to this post something VERY important. This morning I saw a Facebook post by The Forgotten Pet Advocates about someone using the story of Gwinn and Rowdy to gain donations. The ONLY group taking in funds for their care is The Forgotten Pet Advocates. Please ONLY give to them- they have been working so hard to find homes for the dogs - please, make sure that your donations only go to the true advocates of the dogs. Below is the post that is on their page...

Please ignore ANY donation requests from anyone other than
We have been notified that someone is trying to set up a "Gwinn and Rowdy" fund. IT IS NOT US.

We have a "donate page" on our website. If you would like to donate to FPA, you can do so thru our site. We are a 501 (c)(3) and all donations are tax deducible.


1 comment:

Robin said...

Thank you Mary. This is a very important topic for all pet people. Very well done.