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Published: Tuesday, 3/26/2013

Foster homes help efforts to retrain dogs for adoption

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Carol Dunn, founder of Planned Pethood, feeds a treat to Otis, a Labrador retriever mix, at her Old West End home. Ms. Dunn will foster Otis until he’s ready to go back up for adoption. Carol Dunn, founder of Planned Pethood, feeds a treat to Otis, a Labrador retriever mix, at her Old West End home. Ms. Dunn will foster Otis until he’s ready to go back up for adoption.
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It’s hard to believe that just earlier this month, the sweet Labrador retriever mix now calling Carol Dunn’s house his home had a possible death sentence hanging over his head.

Otis had been at the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office since the end of October and up for adoption since December. Despite learning manners at the pound’s PhD dog training program at the Toledo Correctional Institution, no one adopted the dog in the six weeks since he returned.

Not only had he not been adopted, he started to fall apart behaviorally. The shy dog growled at a few pound employees, which prompted them to take him off the adoption list. However, the dog warden offered him up to their approved transfer partners, which include the Toledo Area Humane Society along with about 30 rescue groups.

The thought was he may have just had enough of the pound and was starting to go “cage crazy.” If he were to get out of the shelter and into a foster home, he might be OK, Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle said.

“Some dogs do well in this environment for a period of time, and then start to show new behavior issues or fears that we weren’t previously aware of, and they must be pulled from the adoption floor,” Ms. Lyle said.

Volunteers at the pound who had fallen in love with the black-and-white dog started networking on Facebook to try to find a group to take him.

Several volunteers, including Angi Holt-Parks, offered to pay the $50 fee the pound charges transfer partners to take dogs, who in almost all cases have already been neutered and have had all their shots and other medical treatment such as flea preventatives and heartworm testing.

Ms. Holt-Parks posted a plea for help for Otis on her Facebook page, which is where Ms. Dunn saw it. Ms. Dunn, the founder of one of the area’s largest rescue groups, Planned Pethood, has actually been taking a break from fostering animals.

But she couldn’t resist Otis’ sweet face and Ms. Holt-Parks’ heartfelt plea.

“I think I do pretty good with special-needs dogs,” Ms. Dunn said. “I like to nurture them.”

After a little more TLC, Otis will likely be ready to go up for adoption. That is, if Ms. Dunn can part with him. The no-longer-scared dog seems right at home in her Old West End home, lounging with her other two dogs and several cats.

Otis’ situation is a good example of how even though the pound is doing a lot for its dogs, including training them and allowing volunteers to work with them, sometimes they just need to get out, Ms. Lyle said. That's where the transfer partners and the foster homes come in.

“Our transfer partners are important to us for many reasons, and every dog they take from us benefits from the transfer,” Ms. Lyle said. “Some dogs that are transferred are dogs that we could place, while others are dogs that have a transfer as their only option due to medical or behavioral issues. Some dogs start out up for adoption but become transfer only dogs due to newly discovered medical or behavioral issues.”

Kyle Piekarzewski of Maumee, Planned Pethood’s intake coordinator, said the group has about 45 active fosters, but can always use more.

“The more we have, the more dogs we can save,” she said.

For more information about becoming a foster volunteer, contact Planned Pethood at 419-826-3499 or fill out a foster volunteer application at plannedpethood.org.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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