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A round-up of fun, inspiring news tidbits from the animal welfare world.

From Animal Sheltering magazine November/December 2014

Alana, who hails from the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach, Fla. was a top 25 finisher in the 2014 Dirty Dogs Makeover Contest. When Chance ended up at the shelter for a second time, Sgt. Gary Carter decided to save him for good.

Tremendous Transformations

Whether you’re talking people or pups, everyone loves a great makeover. When scanning the before and after photos of entrants to the 2014 Dirty Dogs Makeover Contest, it’s hard to believe they’re the same canines.Across the country, shelters and rescues entered photos from their greatest Cinderella stories for a chance to win grants for their organizations. Wahl Home Products and Greater Good co-sponsored the contest to raise awareness of the plight of shelter dogs, some of whom were rescued from puppy mills.

The entrants were narrowed down to the top 25 by two celebrity judges: expert dog groomer Jorge Bendersky and award-winning photographer Seth Casteel. The public was then invited to cast their ballots, with the winners determined by popular vote.

In the end, the top dog was Gigi, a Shih Tzu who brought home a $5,000 grant to the Animal Rescue League (ARL) in Des Moines, Iowa. Gigi came to the shelter as a stray. According to Lora Rogers, grants and legacy gifts coordinator for the shelter, Gigi was “in pretty bad shape and in desperate need of grooming for her comfort and for adoption.”

The pooch looked so good after her pampering session with the ARL groomer, she was adopted the very first day she became available. Rogers says, “Her new owners report that she is as sweet as she seemed at the shelter, and they are very happy to have her as a part of their family!”

A before/after photo gallery on the Wahl Pets Facebook page showcases the top 25 contest entrants. The contest photos are worth more than a thousand words, in just two snaps depicting the sad reality of neglect and abuse faced by many animals, along with the incredible recovery that can transpire with the help of a little grooming and a lot of love.

Teacher’s Pets

We all have a special teacher who made a big impression on us, helping shape us into the people we’d become. Tiffani Murphy is hoping to use her special place in the lives of fourth-graders to help make the next generation one that cares about shelter pets.

For a composition project last May, the animal-loving educator at Ebb Valley Elementary School in Manchester, Md., had her class select a dog or cat from among the adoptables online at the Baltimore Humane Society (BHS). Then, each composed a persuasive letter from the standpoint of the animal, explaining to potential adopters why they’d make a great pet. BHS laminated all 37 appeals and posted them on the corresponding animals’ kennels.

According to BHS, the students were excited about the assignment and the chance to help some animals find new homes, and many pulled out their best stuff (which doubtless has been road tested on many a weary parent). Pitches ranged from the comic: “… She comes with her own built-in brush (her tongue!)”; to the heartstring-tuggers: “I’m sad and lonely and I need a home so pplleeaassee, pretty please with cherries on top, adopt me”; to the practical: “Do you like mice? Well if not, I’m your girl!”

The students got to see their handiwork on display and meet their animal muses during a visit to BHS, during which they also delivered donations of supplies they collected for the shelter. The BHS Facebook page includes a photo album packed with adorable images of the students meeting their project partners.

Wendy Goldband, director of marketing and public relations for BHS, says that the reaction to the letters among shelter visitors and staff was definitely positive. And while it’s impossible to gauge the full impact of the students’ impassioned pleas, it’s likely the persuasive pieces did help to send some of these loveable pets to the head of the class, or at least the adoption queue.

Stop, In the Name of the Paw!

Sgt. Gary Carter had no idea that a routine call would end up netting him more than 12 million views on Facebook—and a new buddy.

Last June, the Arlington, Texas, police officer was responding to a call with his partner, Officer Heather Gibson, when a few people on the street waved them over and said a pit bull was running around scaring people. The officers began to search the area and quickly spotted a white bully-breed dog off leash. Following protocol, they put in a call to animal control, then set about trying to contain the dog.

Arlington’s police officers receive mandatory training in dealing with aggressive dogs, and Gibson and Carter were able to ascertain quickly that this canine was nothing to be afraid of. “He wasn’t being aggressive,” Carter says. “He looked like he was looking for someone or something.”

With little to-do, Carter and Gibson were able to guide the dog into the back of their patrol car. While they waited for animal control, Carter started petting the loveable canine, who’d stuck his head out the window. For kicks, Gibson snapped a few cell phone shots of Carter and the dog.

While the dog was being processed at Arlington Animal Services (AAS), the police department posted the photos on its Facebook page. Happy to see a positive interaction between police and a pet, in just 24 hours, viewers responded with tens of thousands of “likes.”

It turned out that the dog—named Jeffrey—was microchipped, and shelter staff were able to locate his owner. Jeffrey had been adopted from an out-of-town shelter just a week before, and had managed to escape the fenced-in property where the owner worked.

But this wasn’t the end of the story. Several weeks later, Jeffrey escaped again and ended up back at AAS. When the owner was contacted, he said that Jeffrey was too much trouble and surrendered him to the shelter. Because the facility was already overcrowded, Jeffrey was put on the urgent list, which meant he could be euthanized at any time.

A shelter worker circulated the urgent list via Facebook, and someone happened to recognize Jeffrey as the famous dog rescued only weeks before. She contacted the police department, which got word to Carter, who decided to adopt Jeffrey, himself. “It would be horrible if we saved this dog, we got all this attention, and then he got euthanized,” he explains.

Carter’s had no trouble at all with his new addition, whom he’s renamed Chance (for all of the chances he’s gotten). Chance has fallen in line with Carter’s two other dogs, an older Jack Russell terrier and dachshund who, he says, “rule the roost.” As for the initial talk of aggression, Carter says he’s never seen one sign of it. “He’s just a good dog. He just wants to be friends."

About the Author

Animal Sheltering is for everyone who cares about the animals in their community—from shelter directors and animal care and control officers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and more.