Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

Happy Tail: If you can't adopt, sponsor or provide foster care

A plea to help Green River Animal shelter with donations of money or supplies, and to lower GRAS euthanasia rate through sponsorship of an animal at the shelter or by providing foster care until the animal is placed in a suitable home
Click on headline for complete story with photo(s)
The next earlier Happy Tail: - Auld Lang Syne

By Peg Schaeffer

I went to the Green River Animal Shelter this week to see the director, Sandy Ford. When I opened the door I was greeted by three happy dogs. Their office cat did the usual cat stare since I woke him from his nap. Sandy and her crew are doing a great job. At the time they were cleaning the dogs' kennels and most of the dogs were outside enjoying the fresh air. All of the inside kennels had beds for the dogs - most of them Kuranda beds which are very comfortable and off the floor. When the previous director was there the dogs didn't even have towels on the floor, never mind Kuranda beds.

Dogs at GRAS were happy, wagging tails, excited to be petted

I went outside to visit with the dogs. They were all happy, wagging their tails, and excited to have someone to pet them. There wasn't a bad dog in sight. There were many different shapes and sizes but all eager for attention. Some of the kennels had tags on them that said "rescue" which meant they were promised to a rescue. So many of the tags said "owner surrender" which breaks my heart and makes me mad at the same time.

Most of dogs euthanized have done nothing wrong

Stray dogs need to be held for 3-5 days before they can be euthanized so if there is a need for space the "owner surrenders" are the first dogs to be euthanized. Most of these dogs have done nothing wrong and from the dogs I saw none of them seemed to be bad dogs. I don't understand how someone can own a dog for any amount of time and then take it to the shelter. No matter how short a time a dog might be at Sugarfoot Farm when it leaves I miss it. I know they're going to good homes but I still have some concern about their welfare. To dispose of a pet not knowing what lies ahead is unfathomable to me.

What does high rate of euthanization say for our society

Some of the dogs at the shelter were strays. Hopefully they will be reunited with their owners before it's too late. If not they also will be killed. In the United States 8,000 pets are euthanized every day. What does that say about our society?

Sadly, there are more dogs in shelter than rescue openings

Despite the efforts of Sandy Ford and Susan Rarey to find rescues to pull the dogs out of the shelter and into a safe place there are more dogs than rescue openings.

In the month of July 2013 the Shelter Report looked like this:

  • Strays - 48
  • Surrenders - 85
  • Subtotal - 133
  • Casey Co - 23
  • Green Co. - 5

    TOTAL - 161

  • Euthanized - 76 - 47%
  • Adopted - 5 - 3%
  • Rescue - 52 - 32%
  • Still at Shelter - 28 -18%M

    TOTAL - 161 - 100%

It's not a pretty picture

This is not a pretty picture. This figure includes dogs and cats. Almost half of the pets that were brought to the shelter were euthanized. Would you want that job? Would you want to kill a perfectly healthy animal because its owner no longer would care for it? There would never be enough money for me to be a shelter employee. Susan Rarey does this thankless job for free.

You can sponsor a dog at the shelter

Did you know that you can sponsor a pet at the shelter? You could specify a dog or cat that you would pay towards the cost of the spay/neuter or towards its adoption fee. Someone called me the other day looking for a small dog. I told him I didn't have any (small dogs are adopted fast) but I had talked to Sandy Ford and she had several at the shelter. He should go there. His response was "I can't afford to adopt from the shelter. If I'm going to pay over $100 for a dog I'll buy a purebred." Most people cannot afford the cost of adoption. So if you visit the shelter and see a pet that you would like to save but don't want another one you can sponsor them so they have a better chance to be adopted and not be euthanized.

You can foster a dog at the shelter

Another option is to foster a pet. You can care for one at your home until it is adopted. This way a pet is saved and out of the shelter environment until it finds a permanent home. It is hard to give one up after you've had it for a while but just think - now you can take in another pet and save its life.

Favorite story is about the adoption of cattle dog, Hannah

When I first moved to Columbia I only took in Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue or Red Heelers). Heather Evans and April Janes worked at the shelter at the time. They would call me whenever they got a Cattle Dog in. My favorite story is about Hannah.

Heather called me to say she had a sweet Australian Cattle Dog that was scheduled to be euthanized. Would I take her? I went to the shelter and Heather brought out a small, jet black dog who in no way was a Blue Heeler. She looked like a Terrier mix. I laughed at her and said "no way is this a Cattle Dog." "But look" she said as she held one of the dog's paws up, "she has blue merle on her toes." Sure enough the tips of her toes were blue merle. So I brought this little black dog home and named her "Hannah."

Hannah is still with us and there isn't enough money in the world for her. She is the greatest and sweetest little dog. Keith and I love her to death. Whenever I'm out with Hannah and I see Heather I always tell Hannah "this is the person who saved your life." I think Hannah knows.

Lion Heart had been facing euthanasia in Cookeville, TN

Another keeper we pulled from a shelter is "Lion Heart". I received a call from the Rescue Coordinator at a shelter in Cookeville, TN. She often calls me when there are senior dogs facing euthanasia. She told me she had the cutest little dog that no one wanted - would I take him? I had someone looking for a small dog so I drove two hours to get him.

Lionheart was weirdest looking little dog - a Choodle

I was greeted by the weirdest looking little dog you ever saw. He looked like a Chihuahua/Poodle cross (a Choodle?). He had curly red hair and around his neck it looked like a lion's mane. He actually looked like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.

Although he looked like the Cowardly Lion I named him "Lion Heart". Once I got him home I called the woman looking for a small dog and told her I found a cute one. She came to the farm, took one look at him and said "he's ugly." I actually thought he was pretty cute. So Lion Heart has been with us ever since. He's a character and brave as a lion. His feet are crooked and his toe nails curl up which give him a look of his own. He loves Keith and follows him everywhere. To see Keith driving the tractor with Lion Heart on his lap is quite a sight.

I'll often look at Hannah, Lion Heart and other dogs we've saved from shelters and think how many other good pets, deserving of a second chance have been euthanized? How many lives have been sacrificed because of a selfish owner who didn't have their pets' best interests in mind?

Still, readers are encouraged to adopt the dogs

I'm not trying to talk anyone out of adopting a dog from us because many of our dogs were pulled from a shelter. More than not it's usually a senior dog that no one wants. At least the dogs we have are allowed the luxury of time to find a home. The poor pets at the shelter don't have that option.

If you have chance, visit Green River Animal Shelter

So if you have an opportunity to visit the Green River Animal Shelter you should. (Come and visit us after if you'd like.) See all of the good pets there that are facing death and see if you can do something to save a life. All you'll feel is good.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email:

This story was posted on 2014-01-12 06:41:44
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.

Lionheart, the Choodle

2014-01-12 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer. Lionheart is a keeper. Some think him ugly, but Peg Schaeffer finds him pretty cute - so much so that the Chihuahua/Poodle cross - "Choodle," if you will - has become a permanent resident at Sugarfoot Farm. "He's a character and brave as a lion. His feet are crooked and his toe nails curl up which give him a look of his own. He loves Keith and follows him everywhere. To see Keith driving the tractor with Lion Heart on his lap is quite a sight," Peg Schaeffer writes.
Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.