Best Friends working with other shelters and rescue groups to save pets

Best Friends collaborates with shelters and rescue groups to save animals. This story spotlights Sevier County Animal Shelter and Enoch City Shelter.
By Denise LeBeau

Hank “the tank” is hanging out in his favorite spot, the back of the Robydek’s couch. The puppy perch gave the little Hank a bird’s nest vantage point to monitor the comings and goings of the street. As he grows, he still manages to direct traffic from his ever-vanishing ledge as his girth quickly overtakes it.

Hank the Lab puppy with his mom Lauren“Hank is just the best,” shares his new mom, Lauren. “He loves to ‘protect’ us from the neighbors. Even when he was younger, he had a big dog bark in a little dog body. He’s protective in all the right ways, and we are so thrilled he is a part of our family. He came to us house-trained, crate-trained and with some solid basic obedience. He’s a great dog.”

Labrador retriever puppies from Sevier County Animal Shelter

Hank was originally named Peppermint, and he was part of a litter dubbed the Tea puppies – including Chai, Verbena and Chamomile – who were taken in by Best Friends. Like all puppies, they were impossibly adorable. The little Labs were at the Sevier County Animal Shelter. Best Friends had room in our Puppy Care Center, so we reached out to them to see if we could take some puppies.

We’re in it together to save animals

One of the ways Best Friends works toward our mission of No More Homeless Pets is by helping our Utah shelter colleagues by taking in the animals when space is available. The Tea puppies are a great example of how working together helps make a difference.

Tazmarie Christensen, a Best Friends staffer at the Puppy Care Center and a Utah native, knew of the puppies at the shelter. She approached her Dogtown managers, Michelle Besmehn and Michelle Logan, to authorize their admission. Knowing that there was room in the Puppy Care Center, and that the extra training and socialization at such a critical stage in their development could give them lifelong skills, Tazmarie felt fairly sure her request would be green-lighted.

“My managers were excited and very receptive to helping the shelter and these dogs,” says Tazmarie. “We’re all passionate about saving more animals, and the dogs we pull are highly adoptable. We all want the same thing: To save as many dogs and cats as possible.”

Sanctuary’s roots in outreach

Lezlie Sage, Best Friends’ No More Homeless Pets Network specialist, helps facilitate the transfer of dogs and cats from surrounding shelters to Best Friends.

She explains that Best Friends has always helped the shelters of the area: “The No More Homeless Pets Network is focused on partnering with organizations across the country to help save more lives, so it only makes sense that we’d help the agencies in our own backyard. Best Friends has been taking animals from Utah shelters for years, and when we have the resources available to help, due to increased adoptions, etc., we reach out to our Utahan rescue colleagues. We are able to do more when we have the space.”

Best Friends also helps the animal rescue organizations of Southern Utah by providing spay/neuter surgeries at the Best Friends clinic.

“As animal issues come up, we’re always looking at ways to solve them. By working with local rescues, we can alleviate some of their burden – when we have the resources available. We’re continually trying to help us all reach the same goal of No More Homeless Pets,” shares Lezlie.

Puppy in distress surrendered to Enoch City Shelter

Chris Johnson, the animal control officer of Enoch City Shelter, exclaims, “We operate our shelter on a no-kill philosophy. We adopt out all healthy and treatable animals. The only animals euthanized are for humane purposes, or vicious dogs that are unsafe to responsibly adopt out. Best Friends has been wonderful to us over the last eight years that I have had this job.”

Maria playingWhen asked if there was one standout pet that Best Friends helped with who illustrates this game-changing relationship, Chris quickly recalls Maria, a dog who, without specialized treatment, would have faced one-in-a-million odds of survival. A local resident had gotten her as a puppy from a breeder. Maria was in distress – she was not able to hold any food down. Maria’s person called Chris because she heard Enoch was a no-kill shelter. Maria was signed over to Chris and taken to her local veterinarian. Her vet explained that he was unqualified to perform the surgery needed to save her life.

Chris relays how it turned out: “I called Best Friends and got her into see Dr. Mike Dix. Maria was then accepted into Dogtown, where she became eligible for the Guardian Angel program, and Dr. Mike and his wife, Elissa, fostered her at their house. Maria was such an amazing girl, and was so full of life. Best Friends 100 percent saved her life. I would not be a no-kill shelter without Best Friends and rescue groups!”

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