No More Homeless Pets Network partner maximizes lifesaving efforts

By Denise LeBeau

The work of No More Homeless Pets Network partner Animal Rescue Front (ARF) can be summed up with one dog. Adele, heavily pregnant, her ears and tail crudely lopped off, was trapped in rural Louisiana by a man who routinely traps strays. She was taken to the local rabies control facility, where there is little interest in saving a pregnant, neglected dog. The local rescue team was tipped off and a foster home arranged. Adele birthed 16 puppies while in foster care. Eight of them are already on their way to adoption in the Northeast. But poor Adele will need more TLC before she becomes the picture of health. You see, she's heartworm-positive.

Grant supports lifesaving treatments

As a Network partner, ARF was eligible and awarded $10,000 through Best Friends Lifesaving Grants in partnership with PetSmart Charities®. So far, they have used about a third of the money to treat 20 heartworm-positive dogs from the Gulf Coast area — dogs just like Adele who would have no other options if not for ARF. They would have died in a gas chamber.

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A safety net for Adele and her pups

"This grant project definitely targets animals that are the most at-risk to be killed, and it provides an innovative solution to save their lives while working towards the Best Friends mission of No More Homeless Pets," shares Ellen Gilmore, manager of Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network.

Fittingly, saving the dogs of the Gulf Coast for Chris, with the help of Best Friends, brings her lifesaving endeavor full circle.

"I started Animal Rescue Front in September of 2005, right after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina," says Chris. "Going down to New Orleans was a life-changing experience. I can never forget what I saw there. The problems the companion animals were facing began long before the hurricane hit. We could not walk away from the animals that desperately needed help."

Chris kept her word. She's been working in the area ever since.

"We couldn't believe the condition of many of the animals we encountered. Best Friends funded us for five months in Waveland, Mississippi — ground zero for the hurricane and the main focus of our work in the aftermath of Katrina. They helped us turn around a cruelty situation, and it's become my life's mission to continue to help the animals of the Gulf Coast."

Continue she does, by working with a local team, headed by Cindy Hunt of Louisiana, and pulling animals off the kill lists in a county in Louisiana and one in Mississippi. She often takes the animals she knows won't be given a second chance – pets who are heartworm-positive or have other treatable conditions that the local shelters won't address. They've rescued over 1,100 animals from just one area alone.

From a bad situation to beautiful one

As Chris puts it, ARF is really saving the lives of these animals twice. They do what their guardians didn't do — administer heartworm-preventative meds and ensure the animals do not end up in a four-day stray hold and then the gas chamber because the shelter does not offer public adoptions.

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That's a lot of puppy love!

ARF utilizes the local team's extensive network of foster families to keep the dogs in a happy and safe environment so they can heal during treatment. Then they are adopted out – often in Massachusetts where Chris actually lives.

"We are so blessed to have the most amazing adopters. Sometimes they even adopt our dog while he or she is beginning treatment, and when we offer to cover the costs they say, 'No, keep it for another who needs your help.' We turn a bad situation into a beautiful one."

ARF is using their Best Friends Lifesaving Grant in partnership with PetSmart Charities to help many heartworm-positive dogs realize their own beautiful situations — to not just have a healthy life, but a cherished one.

How you can help

Find out ways you can help make a difference for the companion animals of the Gulf Coast through Animal Rescue Front.

Photos courtesy of Animal Rescue Front