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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011

Dogs' plight tugs heartstrings

25 suitors ask to adopt pair of orphaned Basset hounds

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Harley, front, and Davidson, two orphaned Basset hounds, may have a new owner soon. Harley, front, and Davidson, two orphaned Basset hounds, may have a new owner soon.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The fate of two homeless Basset hounds bounded toward a happy ending Wednesday after dozens of callers swamped phone lines at The Blade asking to adopt the dogs.

In all, 25 people stepped forward to offer the dogs a permanent home after reading about their plight in the newspaper. Their names and information were forwarded to the Toledo Area Humane Society, which has agreed to handle the adoption process and check the potential candidates. The Humane Society itself received four inquiries about the dogs.

The hounds, Harley, 4, and Davidson, 6, were left after their owner, Frank Martin of Toledo, died unexpectedly June 12 without having made provisions for their care. Family members were unable to take the dogs home because they live far away and have pets of their own. They desperately wanted to find a good home for the animals, especially because Mr. Martin loved them dearly.

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"The response was amazing," said Pat McCarty, Mr. Martin's sister, remarking on the number of people who had offered to help. "The people of Toledo have been so friendly and wonderful. We really do appreciate it."

Both animals were in the care of one of Mr. Martin's neighbors Wednesday.

The neighbor has agreed to look after the pets until the Humane Society has room to take them in, executive director John Dinon said. He expected space to open up by the end of the week and said the adoption should be finalized soon after that.

Once the hounds arrive at the Humane Society, they will go through medical screening, receive vaccinations, and undergo a behavior test. Assuming they pass these assessments, the Humane Society will begin contacting the people interested in adopting them, Mr. Dinon explained.

Each potential adopter will go through the Humane Society's screening procedures, which include filling out an extensive form and being interviewed by shelter staff members. Candidates who already have dogs of their own will be asked to bring them in to meet the Basset hounds to ensure they get along.

If they rent a home, the Humane Society will check to make sure the landlord will allow the dogs to live on the property, the executive director added.

Mr. Dinon said the Humane Society will be looking for new owners whose home and lifestyle are suitable to keeping a Basset hound.

He said the dogs are physically active and need regular exercise, but they are not the type of dogs that can be used as jogging partners. The hounds also have a tendency to run, so the adopters must be able to contain them on their property. In addition, the Humane Society will offer the new owners advice on keeping the dogs' weight under control as Basset hounds are prone to back problems if they get too big, Mr. Dinon said.

Most of those who called said they are willing to take both dogs so as not to split them up. One was Holly Bronko who lives on four acres of land in the Irish Hills area of Michigan. She has a Basset hound of her own and said she is very familiar with the breed.

"I just love them," she said. "I saw [the two Bassets] this morning and said, 'I've got to have them. I feel sorry for them."

Mark Gwilt of Adrian said he and his wife would willingly take the hounds. They recently lost a Basset hound of their own and are looking for a replacement, he said.

"We have a lot of love in our hearts for dogs," Mr. Gwilt said. "We just think they'd be a blessing to us and they'd be well-loved here."

Although only one family will be able to take the Basset hounds, Mr. Dinon said he hopes at least some of the callers will want to adopt other animals from the Humane Society.

The society currently has dozens of adoptable dogs, many that have been surrendered by people who could no longer care for them after they lost a job or a home.

"We have plenty of good dogs that need good homes," Mr. Dinon said.

Ms. McCarty said her family settled on allowing Toledo's Humane Society to handle the adoption process for Harley and Davidson after talking to several rescue groups in Ohio and other states.

The local Humane Society seemed the best option because of its proximity and because the family wanted to be sure the dogs wouldn't be euthanized, she said.

They liked the fact that the Toledo Area Humane Society has a stringent screening process for potential adopters, she added.

Ms. McCarty, who was in Toledo for her brothers' funeral, said good-bye to the dogs Wednesday and planned to head back to Colorado Springs Friday.

"I'm just hoping [the dogs] will have a wonderful home and wonderful rest of their life," she said. "We're leaving feeling good about it."

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett cbarrett@theblade.com or 419-724-6272.



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