A few children played with Gary the dachshund/Jack Russell Terrier. Russ the Labrador/ Pit Bull laid splayed out on the linoleum. And a man began to seriously consider adopting Brutus the Rhodesian Ridgeback/German Shepherd, sure to grow up huge but of a surprisingly mellow temperament for a puppy.
By mid-day Saturday, none of the seven dogs at Pet Smart under the care of Dust Bowl Animal Rescue found homes yet. But there was plenty of interest to fuel optimism of the volunteers at the relatively new organization.
Plus they had no reason to think this second adoption event would fare any worse than the first, when the non-profit organization found homes for 14 dogs on Memorial Day weekend.
The animal lovers that formed Dust Bowl Animal Rescue in January met through their volunteer work as foster families for other animal rescue organizations and were driven by a desire for better practices, said the group’s president Jamie Cockburn.
They wanted assurance that animals would be properly cared for by their adoptive families, which means home checks and contracts with owners who must essentially pledge kindness and responsibility: Don’t leave the dog in a hot car or let it ride in a pickup bed, for example. Feed it and provide veterinary care. Remember puppies need training, and so forth.
“Our goal is for fulltime placement,” Cockburn said. “It’s not a part-time dog. It’s your best friend.”
Now the foster-based group has five board members, about 15 foster families and a following of more than 600 people on Facebook, who help promote animals and find homes. No one earns any money from the effort, Cockburn said. They focus on animals from high-kill shelters, those whose owners can no longer care for them, and strays.
Since its founding, Dust Bowl Animal Rescue says it’s placed more than 60 animals in good homes, with none returned.
More and more pets wind up put down in at Animal Control shelters with the influx of people into the Midland and Odessa Area. Cockburn points to a few aggravators of this reality: Odessa offers no spay/neuter vouchers; people breed animals impulsively and irresponsibly; people get dogs they aren’t prepared to care for; and in the tight housing market many apartments ban pets or allow them only with a prohibitively expensive fee.
Treasurer Katie Kirk said she found this last category particularly troublesome because owner releases to the pounds can make the pets more likely to be put down quickly since no one is looking for them.
Cockburn said two of the dogs at Pet Smart on Saturday, Gracie and Annie, were given to the Dust Bowl Animal Rescue because their owner of six years — a retired lady on a fixed income — saw her apartment complex drastically increase pet deposits under new management.
The group’s pets come already vaccinated. If the dogs aren’t neutered or spayed, the non-profit provides a $60 voucher to do so. Fees for puppies and dogs are $120. For a kitten or cat it’s $100 (with a $50 spay/neuter voucher).
Including cats — more than a dozen of which are up for adoption at Pet Smart — Cockburn said Dust Bowl Animal Rescue is fostering 48 animals. There are also two horses.
Next Saturday, the Dust Bowl Animal Rescue has scheduled a garage sale fundraiser from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 8701 Holiday Drive, the home of a board member. The group seeks volunteers and donations of large items such as furniture and electronics. Proceeds will primarily help with vetting costs and another upcoming adoption event at the World’s First Rodeo in Pecos, which begins on June 26.
Meanwhile, the Pet Smart adoption event continues today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.