‘They can now have a life’—Animal agencies partner to rescue puppies from shelter

‘They can now have a life’—Animal agencies partner to rescue puppies from shelter

A pup nibbles on a kennel door Friday morning moments before joining 16 other dogs on a flight to Florida to a “no-kill” shelter in Palm Harbor. Organizations Pilots N Paws, Cleveland County Humane Society and Clifford’s Army Rescue Extravaganza partnered to rescue the dogs from the Cleveland County Animal Shelter to find homes and avoid euthanization. Alicia Banks/The Star

By Alicia Banks

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012 at 18:58 PM. www.shelbystar.com

*Find more pictures of the rescued pups and dogs on Facebook on the  ”Clifford’s Army Rescue Extravaganza”page

SHELBY — Little paws scratched against the metal cage doors. Their tongues pressed through the cage, licking fingers and hands that petted them. Their infant barks put smiles on volunteers’ faces.

A small plane waited at Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport for the litter of puppies and full-grown dogs Friday.

The rescued dogs will go to Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor, Fla. The “no-kill” shelter will help find the 17 puppies and dogs homes in the area.

The Cleveland County Humane Society, whose animal shelter is currently filled to capacity, and its Clifford’s Army Rescue Extravaganza volunteer group partnered for the rescue.

A handful of the dogs faced euthanization at the Cleveland County Animal Shelter on Friday morning, according to Marguerite Mebane, president of the county’s Humane Society.

“They can now have a life,” Mebane said. “So many animals are born in this community to die. It’s a blessing to save these animals.”

‘Homes for these pups’

Clifford volunteer Deb Hardin said Suncoast learned of the needy pups through Facebook. A Clifford fan shared the rescue’s album of adoptable animals on her Facebook page.

Welles Murphey, a private pilot and member of Pilots N Paws, flew the dogs to Suncoast. The non-profit organization sends volunteer pilots across the nation on rescue flights for at-risk animals, according to its website.

Murphey has piloted with the organization for two years.

“I’ve cared for around five rescue dogs in my life. We’re trying to find homes for these pups,” he said.

‘This is what keeps us going’

The dogs, ranging from just a few weeks to two years old, climbed over each other in the kennels. Clifford volunteer Jennifer Hord looked on from a distance. Some puppies slept comfortably on the bottom of kennel floors. Others shivered with wide eyes from wind gusts.

Garrett Bender, rescue coordinator for the county’s Humane Society, said the main goal is to benefit the animals.

“This is what keeps us going,” Mebane said as the plane lifted off the runway. “The key is us working together.”

Reach reporter Alicia Banks at 704-669-3338, email at abanks@shelbystar.com and follow on Twitter @TheStarAlicia.

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