After eating breakfast, the 75 or so puppies take turns going for walks.
They’re getting ready for a 530-mile journey from Clayton to the Northeast, so in a few hours, they’ll be thankful for the bathroom break. The young dogs, collected from overcrowded animal shelters throughout North Carolina, are headed to North Shore Animal League America, a large “no kill” shelter in New York State.
Since many of the animals would have likely been euthanized here, their road trip serves as a lifesaver, said Kit Creasy, a Clayton resident who hosted a send-off for the puppies on Wednesday.
“This is a cheerful thing,” Creasy said. “It’s heartbreaking to see all these puppies in shelters.”
Creasy’s Red Barn Rescue works with Partners! Canine, a North Carolina-based nonprofit that coordinated the trip to North Shore.
Jessica Bryant, president of Partners! Canine, said her group arranges trips for puppies to “no kill” shelters about every two weeks. As its name suggests, “no kill” shelters don’t use euthanasia, a practice many animal shelters in North Carolina do employ to manage overcrowding.
Bryant started preparing for this week’s trip last Sunday and spent Monday and Tuesday gathering and caring for the puppies. It’s a familiar routine. Between traveling to pick up the dogs, feeding them and taking them to a veterinarian, the job often starts before dawn and doesn’t end until late at night. And with no shelter to house the dogs before they are sent off, Bryant said her group keeps the canines in vehicles – heated or cooled depending on the weather.
Many of the puppies that Partners! Canine sends elsewhere are from shelters with high rates of euthanasia, Bryant said. This pack of dogs came from counties in Western North Carolina and the Goldsboro area.
“They would have likely been put down,” she said.
After walking the dogs on Wednesday, volunteers gave the puppies collars and vaccinations. A special bus equipped with dog runs visible to other drivers took the animals to New York.
Bryant said North Shore provides a grant for her group to help pick up and care for dogs. The New York shelter also pays to transport the puppies from North Carolina.
Bridgett Buckman, a volunteer from Clayton, said shelters in states like New York often have a shortage of adoptable puppies because of their spay and neuter laws.
“Puppies are a big issue for us here,” Buckman said. “What we’re doing is getting hundreds of dogs from kill shelters here and sending them to where they can be spayed, neutered and placed in a home.”
For more information, go to www.partnerscanine.org or search “Red Barn Rescue” on Facebook.