The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, better known as the ASPCA, estimated that in 2011, 3.9 million dogs entered animal shelters across the United States. Approximately 2.6 million of those, or two out of every three dogs, were euthanized.
Since the original data was collected, both the number of dogs entering shelters and the number put down has dropped, indicating a step in the right direction. About 3.1 million dogs per year enter shelters now however, only 390,000 are euthanized, an 85 percent decrease. However, according to Best Friends, an organization that researches pet homelessness and no-kill rates in the United States, Georgia remains among the top 10 states for animals euthanized each year.Why It’s Newsworthy: University of Georgia senior Louise Hatcher is doing her part to change those statistics. In late April, she received state-issued nonprofit licensing for her animal rescue organization, Three Dog Night Rescue, and she began operation in May.
“I found so many pets for sale on classified sites, and it seemed sketchy and sad. I was nervous about these dogs and animals going to a home where they were going to breed them more or fight them or whatever, who knows,” Hatcher said. “I wanted to step in and do something about that, because I realized there wasn’t a specific industry that did that. What this really was, it wasn’t just a rescue but a way to market dogs better.”
She explained that her job was to work with people just as much as it was to work with pets, helping those that find stray animals go through the proper channels and ultimately, doing her best to make sure that the animal doesn’t get put down for unnecessary reasons.
Georgia law states that stray animals must be held for at least seven days in animal control before any further steps are taken (i.e. adoption). However, if they aren’t claimed, many of the puppies are put down. That’s where Hatcher steps in.
Along with her team of five other executive officers, an intern, volunteers and those that have donated to her cause, Hatcher and Three Dog Night will pick up dogs from kill shelters and deliver them to foster homes. All the while, Hatcher is doing her best to set up an adopter for each of the dogs. That makes the volunteers even more important.
“We operate through volunteers,” Hatcher said. “We shelter through my home in Atlanta where I was raised, but mainly we have fosters and operate through a foster system. We have 250 volunteers, most of those who have been or currently are fosters. The rest are people who might say, ‘My roommate is allergic to dogs. I love dogs. How can I help though?’ We’ll have those people transport, taking dogs to a vet appointment or picking up puppies from a kill shelter.”
Fellow University of Georgia senior Ellie Levy is one of those volunteers, having fostered three dogs through Hatcher’s organization. She first found out about the operation through sorority sisters. Then her roommate brought a puppy home one day last year. All that sparked Levy’s interest to participate in the program herself.
“I follow her (Hatcher) on Instagram, saw that she needed fosters and reached out to her,” Levy said. “I’ve always loved animals, and if I could, I’d have a dog right now. But being in school, I can’t … This semester, I decided I wanted to be able to help out.”
Levy said that she took time to make sure she wasn’t making a spur of the moment decision. She had to talk with her roommates to make sure they were on board too, and once they were, she went through an application process to foster through Three Dog Night Rescue.
Last time she fostered, Levy actually took in two 6-week-old puppies. She was told that taking two would be easier than one because they would keep each other entertained. But Levy wasn’t off the hook entirely. In taking them into her home, she was responsible for feeding them, cleaning them, taking them to the dog park and making sure they were able to get all the proper medical treatment that young dogs need. It was all a part of an exciting process.
“Those ones were harder because they didn’t sleep through the night,” Levy said. “They would wake up every hour or two. So it’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s also really fun because I would bring them everywhere with me. They were sweet, cuddly, and you also get to see them change from being shelter dogs or scared little puppies to having their personalities come out.”
Levy always knew that the dogs weren’t hers to keep. After two weeks, Hatcher and Three Dog Night Rescue had found permanent homes for the dogs, named Koa and Winnie. While she was sad to see them go, Levy was simultaneously happy to know that they ended up in a good place.
“I was definitely really sad about it, but I had prepared myself from the beginning that I wasn’t going to keep either of them. They were going somewhere else,” Levy said.
It definitely made me a lot better knowing that both of them ended up going to families with little kids … The families sent me pictures and stuff a couple days after. That was really sweet, but it was definitely bittersweet.”
Levy is now on to her third foster dog through Three Dog Night, and as long as she’s able to, even after college, she plans to continue fostering dogs to do her part in helping fix the problem of shelter dogs and euthanasia.
Hatcher also doesn’t have plans of stopping anytime soon. She hopes to be able to expand Three Dog Night to more than just a rescue. While she will continue her work with pets post-graduation, all along she has said that her work is with people just as much as it is pets. That’s guiding her to open a side function of Three Dog Night, a consulting firm that could help other nonprofits like her own market themselves better.
“I want to open a consulting firm, Three Dog Night Consulting, that helps nonprofits market better because they do not have the skills that a company that has a marketer would have and they don’t have the means to do so,” Hatcher said. “I really want to help people and advocate for things that I care about through marketing.”
So far, in 29 weeks, Three Dog Night has saved 162 dogs from kill shelters. Of those, 125 have been adopted, and there’s a wait list for any further adoptions.
Palmer Thombs is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, minoring in sport management and earning a Sports Media Certificate at the University of Georgia.
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