CORBIN — By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
The kennels were full and the puppy crates were close to it — it took only a couple days for the temporary Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter to be filled with abandoned animals.
The temporary shelter — which opened following the devastating Nov. 29 fire that destroyed the shelter’s former building — saw a bustle of activity Monday with the arrival of representatives from Wagging Hearts of Chicago.
The animals seemed to know something was going on. A scarred pit bull howled. A yellow Lab that looked healthier than most of the other dogs trembled.
Other dogs didn’t seem as excited. A foxhound stayed in the back of its kennel, indifferent to newcomers. A heavily pregnant dalmatian mix leaned against the door of her kennel, but didn’t look at the people scurrying about.
The puppies and kittens didn’t seem as in tune with the activity as the adults; the puppies scratched like they wanted out of their cages. The kittens were preoccupied with playing.
Twelve dogs, a litter of kittens, and 21 puppies are being transported by Wagging Hearts of Chicago to find families, according to shelter Director Deana Myers. Five other dogs were taken by the Lexington Humane Society. Myers said the shelter was trying to arrange weekly transports, but “it depends on volume.”
Wagging Hearts of Chicago is a rescue organization that places all of its animals in foster homes and ensures they get complete medical care before adoption, according to founder Linda Stancato.
Stancato said the organization works to rehabilitate the animals they pull from shelters, behaviorally or medically. Wagging Hearts also works with a number of other rescues and no-kill shelters to ensure that shelter animals are cared for and eventually adopted, according to Stancato.
A blue merle puppy with piercing silver eyes scratched frantically at raw red patches on its body and cried. Stancato says that the puppy and its two litter mates have yeast infections from “not being properly cared for.” Stancato says that owner neglect can cost rescue organizations hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to reverse. It will cost $200 per puppy to treat the litter’s yeast infection. The mother, according to Stancato, will cost Wagging Hearts $1,000 before she is completely ready for adoption. Wagging Hearts relies on donations to ensure that puppies like these are vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and fully healthy before they find homes.
Wagging Hearts regularly visits Kentucky for animals and Stancato says they “take back whatever [they] possibly can.” Stancato said that in the last year alone, Wagging Hearts pulled more than 1,000 animals from the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter. The organization adopts animals in very high volumes through targeted transports and work with other rescue organizations. According to Stancato, Wagging Hearts will transport dogs “wherever they need to be.”
Thanks to help from Wagging Hearts and other organizations dedicated to pulling animals from shelters, the euthanasia rate for Knox-Whitley has been dramatically reduced, according to Myers. The temporary shelter has much less space than the original building, so these regular transports are enormously helpful as the shelter gets back on its feet, she added.