Helping Hounds Program
Virginia is one of the few states in which dog deer hunting is still legal. During hunting season, a lot of abandoned hound dogs show up in area shelters. Many of the dogs appear to have been living in the woods for a very long time. The dogs are almost always underweight, have mange, intestinal worms, injuries to their legs, ear infections, heartworms and tick-borne diseases. Many of the dogs need extensive medical care for tumors, cherry eyes, broken bones, and other issues. In addition, the dogs are usually scared and not ready to be adopted into a family situation. Without a rescue group to help, these dogs would likely be euthanized in the county shelters. The Helping Hounds program was formed to provide medical care and foster homes to these dogs. There are no other rescue groups in the area that focus on the hound breeds, and we felt this is one area where we could make a difference.
The hound dogs that KGARL pulls from animal shelters are usually the least adoptable dogs at the pound; they are discarded, diseased, malnourished, and frightened. Most have spent their entire lives living outside in a kennel. They often don't have names, and are identified only by the numbers painted on their fur. KGARL takes the dogs to the vet and has them tested for parasites and other diseases. The dogs are brought up to date on their vaccinations, are treated for ear and skin infections, have their wounds cleaned, and a treatment plan for their remaining medical care is created.
The dogs are then placed into a foster home, where they learn how to live in a home. They are given a name, toys, and a soft place to rest their tired souls. They are provided with all of the medical care, food, shelter, and support that they need to become healthy and adoptable. When required, the dogs are treated for heartworms, and recover in their foster homes over the course of a four week period. It is not unusual for surgery to be required for broken bones, tumors, cherry eyes, hernias, and more. While the dogs are in our group, all medically necessary surgeries are performed under the care of local veterinarians.
KGARL's Helping Hounds program was started by Wendy Veliz (a local animal rescuer) as an independent venture to provide medical and foster care to hunting dogs (mostly Foxhounds, Coonhounds, Bloodhounds, and Beagles), with the goal of moving them from local county shelters and into rescue groups or adoptive homes. For years, Wendy spent her own money and time to save these dogs. Many people view hound dogs as tools for hunting, and not as pets, but Wendy saw something different. She was drawn in by their eyes, their hearts, and their compassion. KGARL saw the hard work, dedication, and tears that Wendy put into the program, and we saw this program as something that fit into our mission of saving homeless animals. Although KGARL’s Helping Hounds program started in 2015, Wendy has 14 years of experience in animal rescue, and continues to lead the Helping Hounds program. In 2016, together, we were able to save 459 hound dogs! This is an amazing accomplishment for a small, non-profit group. We could not have done this without Wendy, donations, volunteers, and foster homes! We hope to continue this wonderful program, and to save even more dogs for years to come.
Because the number of animals entering the county shelters is so large, and adoption rates are low in our area, we work with other rescue groups to find adoptive homes for the hound dogs. Before we agree to work with another group, KGARL members review the group’s adoption practices and talk to references to ensure the group’s goals are in-line with ours. Many of the rescue groups that we work with require that the animals be up to date on shots, have a health certificate and be spayed/neutered before they’ll agree to bring the animal into foster care. All of this is done while the dogs are in a KGARL foster home. After one of our hounds is transferred to another group, we stay in contact with the group, and with the adopter, to ensure the dogs are well cared for. Rescue groups and adopters are always welcome to come to us with questions or support.
Even though we work with local vets to find the best possible prices, the amount of medical care these dogs require is expensive and the costs quickly add up, so donations are always appreciated. In addition to funding, foster homes are greatly needed to provide safe places for the dogs to stay while medical care is provided and transports are set up.
Please visit our Foster Home webpage to learn more about becoming a foster family to one of these wonderful dogs! Foster homes are needed for anywhere from overnight, to a couple of months. We will work with your schedule and needs, in order to place the right dog in your home.