Carole Laval loves dogs, especially rescuing them from possible doom.
Terrier mix Dash, terrier Buddy and Labrador retriever Jack, all rescue dogs, are part of the Laval family.
“They don’t ask much from us, and they give us so much in return,” says Laval, a Fresno appraiser. “They just need a home.”
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 60% of dogs and 70% of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. That amounts in the central San Joaquin Valley to thousands of pets dying at overcrowded shelters each year.
About 30 Valley animal adoption agencies and shelters provide services that create awareness on the importance of choosing adoption and the responsibility of pet owners having their dogs and cats spayed and neutered. The organizations use various programs to accomplish the work.
Many get the dogs and cats out of shelters, particularly those that are abandoned or sick and may not otherwise be selected. The animals are then placed in the organization’s network of foster homes, where the residents work to bring the animals to good health so they are adoptable.
Some agencies also are doing more outreach. The Cat House on the Kings in Parlier, California’s largest no-cage, no-kill cat sanctuary, opened a satellite adoption center in the Fresno Petco store on North Blackstone Avenue to put cats “front and center every day of the week” in hopes of placing them in homes.
In 2014, the store’s first full year with the adoption center, nearly 650 cats were saved after people adopted them, an average of more than 50 rescues per month.
“Those animals are going to die if people don’t adopt them,” says Tammy Barker, manager of the adoption center and assistant director of The Cat House on the Kings. “We can’t continue to save animals if we don’t find them homes.”
Some agencies are breed-specific. The Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno, a small nonprofit organization with about 25 volunteers, gets the dogs from shelters and uses foster homes to care for them until they are matched into good homes.
In 2014, Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno checked in 202 dogs and placed nearly all them into homes. In the past week, dogs Winston, Seger, Jack Daniels and Dimples were matched.
Petra House, founder of Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno, says it is important that agencies work to find Valley homes for the animals.
“Every dog that people adopt from us, we can pull another dog at the shelter and save his or her life,” she says. “There are so many strays running around here and all the way to Madera. It’s pretty bad. We want to end the suffering and get people to be responsible, and part of that responsibility is to spay and neuter.”
People seeking to adopt a pet have various avenues to choose. Probably the quickest is to visit a pet adoption facility. Some other avenues take potential pet owners onto social media platforms.
Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno, which operates without a facility for its dogs, asks potential owners to visit its website, labrescuefresno.org, or Facebook page under Labrador Rescue of Fresno. The organization also posts on Petfinder and Craigslist.
Those interested must fill out an adoption application on the website, including the dog’s name that they are interested in. The application is forwarded to the dog’s foster home, which provides information about the dog’s status. Then, a meeting is arranged. Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno also brings its dogs to the Petco store at 1045 Herndon Ave. in Clovis, noon to 4 p.m.
If everything works out, volunteers pay a home visit, looking at yard fencing, gates latching properly and safety issues.
“We also try to match up the dog with the family,” House says. “Not everyone wants a 1- to 2-year-old, high-strung male Lab. Some people want a couch potato. We want these dogs to stay with a family for the rest of their lives.”
Labrador Retriever Rescue of Fresno ensures potential owners the dog has been taken to a veterinarian for vaccinations, spayed or neutered, micro-chipped and checked for parasites and ticks.
“So when they are ready to go, they are ready to go,” House says.
The last step is the final paperwork. Cost is $100 for seniors and special-need Labs, $250 for adults and $350 for puppies.
Laval says she is pleased with the adoption agencies. Dash arrived through the PetSmart store at 3220 W. Shaw Ave. and Buddy came via Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center in Clovis. Jack?
In June, Laval was on a morning walk with a friend, Sue Davila. They came upon other women walkers with a collarless black Lab dripping wet.
Laval asked if the dog had been swimming. The women said the dog wasn’t theirs, and that he just started following them.
“They were going to leave him, and Sue and I didn’t think that was right,” Laval remembers.
So they took the dog to Laval’s home. Davila placed a lost-dog ad in The Bee. Laval posted information on Craigslist and displayed a poster at the Save Mart store on West Bullard Ave., where the dog was found. No one responded.
Laval tried to have the dog examined by a veterinarian at the Central California SPCA, but she first needed to honor a 30-day waiting period. A search at the PetSmart on West Shaw Avenue for a dog chip also turned up empty.
After 30 days, she returned to Central California SPCA for shots, a microchip, a collar — and named her latest rescue dog Jack.
“It’s like he dropped out of the sky,” she says. “He is the sweetest dog in the world.”