CHESTERFIELD-- David Bourke is a man with a mission, and his mission is saving dogs. Dogs who, without his help, would be killed in the local animal shelter because of over crowding issues.
This weekend Bourke and his wife, Karen, travelled more than 1,800 miles to help relocate 22 dogs as part of a rescue effort funded by the Last Chance Animal Rescue, a non profit organization based in Southamptom, NY.
Bourke is the founder of The Wagging Dog, an animal rescue transport service which is based in Tennessee. He says that during the past two years, he has helped to save the lives of almost 2,000 dogs.
The Last Chance Animal Rescue works with Paws and Claws of Chesterfield County to help get the dogs from the local area adopted up north. When the animal shelter becomes overcrowded, volunteers will move the dogs from the shelter to holding facilities around Chesterfield County to avoid having the animals killed.
“The best part of the my job is pulling in to New York and unloading the dogs from the carriers. There are families with children there and kids are shouting ‘there’s my dog,” Bourke said. “It feels really good to know that these dogs are finally home, and they now have someone to love and care for them.”
“On the last rescue trip I made, we had 19 dogs, 11 of those dogs had already been adopted through Last Chance and pet finder before we even reached New York,” Bourke added.
One of the holding facilities that Last Chance uses is Sandy Crest Kennels in Chesterfield, which is owned by Lori Brown. “Many of the dogs we receive have not had any medical care or vaccinations, and are in poor health. Last Chance covers the expenses of housing the dogs, veterinary visits, immunizations and also having the dogs spayed or neutered,” said Brown.
“I usually house an average of 70 dogs at any given time, but if I were to guess between the dogs we have at this facility and dogs that are with fosters, I would say we average about 100 dogs who are in the process of being rescued,” said Brown.
Last Chance also utilizes a foster family program where local families will take care of the dogs until they are ready for transport. Shannon Hughes of Chesterfield was a foster for the dog she found named Buddy. On the day of the transport, Buddy was one of the dogs making the voyage to New York to find a new home.
“One day he was just walking up the driveway, his hair was all matted and he looked like some one just dropped him off on the side of the road,” Hughes said, “I will miss him, but I am really glad that he will have a chance. I don’t know if he has been adopted out yet, but he’s a great dog.”
Whitney Brooke Knowlton, Director of Last Chance Animal Rescue is originally from Hilton Head, SC and is familiar with the animal control issues in the South. “There is a huge problem in Chesterfield County, which is why most of our rescue efforts are focused on this area,” Knowlton said. “The shelter cannot handle the amount of animals that are being brought in and when it gets too crowded the animals are killed. The way these animals are killed is unacceptable, they are innocent.”
“People think that when they bring a pet to the animal shelter that it will be adopted out, but that is not the way it really is. There are more animals being brought in than there are adopted. There are a lot of animals killed each week.”
Knowlton says that one of the reasons why the animal control problem is so bad is because there are no spay and neuter clinics in the area, and many people simply cannot afford to take their animals to the veterinarian. “We need people to get interested and help make a difference in Chesterfield County. We are looking for volunteers who are willing to adopt animals or become foster families,” Knowlton said.
Last Chance Animal Rescue is a Charitable, not for profit organization, created to save the lives of animals.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, donating or becoming a foster family, visit them online at http://www.lcarf.org