2010-12-23 / News

Kennel to Conanicut: Islander welcomes hounds into home

By Cindy Cingone

“I started rescuing stray dogs when I was a little girl,” said Julie Adams, one of the shelter partners of Paws New England, a rescue organization that places abandoned dogs in homes of the six New England states. “I used to bring them into my bedroom and hide them from my mother.”

Adams didn’t come from a home that was very sympathetic to the plight of the dog. Nonetheless, it hadn’t deterred Julie from eventually moving out on her own and continuing her quest of taking in strays. Adams is currently sheltering more than 100 abandoned and neglected dogs on her farm in Missouri. Once the word got out that Adams would welcome unwanted dogs, she would find litters of puppies and adult dogs hurled onto her property or thrown down a ditch on her land.

Marilyn Chapman, a Jamestown resident who works for Conanicut Marina, has been a foster parent of several rescue dogs over the last few years.

“I adopted Jessie from this group two years ago,” Chapman said, referring to her chocolate lab. “I had a very good experience with Paws and I remained on their newsletter list. This past May their sanctuary in Tennessee was flooded; I volunteered to foster one of the dogs that was flooded out. I enjoyed the experience and it was so rewarding to see the progress and to find a forever home for the dog.”

But Jessie isn’t the only dog to find a home on the island. Chapman just adopted her second dog, Starr, a black and white lab.

“She was abandoned as a pup and needed a place to become a dog before being adopted. By fostering her before adoption, she was able to interact with my 3-year-old lab and be around people to try and overcome her shyness.” Chapman has now taken on a third dog, Max, and will provide a foster home until it is also adopted.

According to Adams, the hard part is keeping the dogs fed. She relies heavily on donations and contacts dog food manufacturers to get her name on a list. On the occasions when her name comes up and the free dog food donations are arranged, the second hardest part is transporting the food back to her farm in Missouri and paying for the freight.

Once Julie teamed up with Paws New England, thanks to the donations and volunteer work, Adams has been able to find good homes for many of her abandoned dogs.

The donation and adoption fees collected by Paws New England help pay for the veterinary bills, neutering expenses, vaccinations, transportation costs and other medical care provided to the dogs. Many of the dogs that Adams rescues would never have had a chance in life if it weren’t for the work of the volunteers from Paws New England.

Co-founders Traci Wood and Kelly Parker started Paws New England four years ago. Several months later, Joanne Hutchinson joined the team. Wood had stepped into the Tipton County Animal Shelter, located in Brighton, Tenn., originally to find her friends lost dog. She was appalled at the conditions the animals had to endure.

“The pitiful dogs and cats that I saw there that morning – some injured, many sick, cold and wet, and the absolute hopeless expressions on their little faces – made my heart sink to my feet.” That was inspiration enough for Wood to start the non-profit animal rescue organization.

Paws New England now has dozens of volunteers and a network of partners, such as Julie Adams. One by one the group would pull dogs out of kill shelters, post their photos online and have the rescued dogs placed in loving homes. Today, the group has been instrumental in saving over 3,500 dogs.

Over the holidays, Paws New England – which has an office in Barrington – is looking for foster homes. Across the country, over 13,000 pet rescue organizations are trying to empty their kennels for Christmas, encouraging members of the public to invite a pet into their home for the holidays.

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