Katee Eveland, of Quakertown, with her sons Jude and Caden, are fostering two dogs for Salfid. Eveland said she couldn't imagine their home without all the fun and chaos.
Pennsburg woman, local volunteers make it their mission to rescue dogs
There is absolutely no good reason, Tara Benninger says, shaking her head, that so many dogs are being euthanized – small puppies, young dogs with cheerful dispositions and great manners and their older counterparts who just want someone to love – and that's why she is so dedicated to Salfid.
Working for Souderton-based Salfid Rescue, Benninger scans shelter posts dubbed "kill lists" online. She carefully jots down some notes and follows up with phone calls, emails and Facebook messages. Her only hope – that she's not too late.
"It's hard to turn away," the Pennsburg resident said of the dogs' pictures. "Most of the public's perception of a shelter or rescue dog is incorrect. They aren't aggressive, untrainable, someone else's problem castaway or have issues. Most were lost, their owner died, can't afford them anymore, are unwanted or were someone else's baby until their human baby came along.
"I stay away from going to the shelters as much as possible though," she said, cracking a smile. "We would be saving every dog I saw in there. I would clean out the shelter!"
Benninger said approximately 3 to 4 million healthy, adoptable pets are euthanized each year in US shelters. "That's a scary number," she noted. "[That's why] Salfid and I have made it our mission to help all the dogs we can."
While people failing to spay or neuter their pets remain their biggest foe, Salfid, whom Benninger serves as vice president for, does its best to advocate for unwanted dogs. Its volunteers look online as well as get emails and pleas directly from shelters and individuals who have dogs in need of rescuing. The group works closely with two groups in Virginia, the Humane Societies of Campbell and Amherst counties, where euthanasia is administered quickly due to numbers.
Benninger explained that Salfid takes in each dog it can and evaluates both its health and temperament and creates a plan of action accordingly. Some need physical care because they are pregnant or for maladies like heartworm. Some need housetraining or obedience training. Most dogs are placed in foster homes until they can be adopted out.
Currently, the rescue has an overpopulation of dogs that need homes, many of them puppies or new mothers. One dog was a part of a litter found inside a trashbag at a landfill.
"We have all [kinds of] breeds, all sizes and all ages. We don't discriminate here: chihuahuas, lab mixes, pomeranians, pit mixes, mini pinchers, hound mixes…You name it," Benninger said.
Katee Eveland, of Quakertown, has been a longtime volunteer and foster for Salfid. She currently has two dogs she fostered for the organization and ended up adopting and two dogs she is fostering now named Megan and Dutchess.
She is proud to have joined a group of what the rescue lovingly calls "foster fails," people who answer the call to care for a dog temporarily and fall too much in love to part with it.
Xena, a Lab mix, and Juno, a Rottweiler mix, have permanently joined Eveland's family which includes her husband, two young boys and three cats.
"Xena was 1 ½ and fresh from giving up all her puppies at eight weeks. She had issues but they were corrected. She is the world's best dog and we are proud of her and her accomplishments," Eveland said. "Juno is eight years old and all she wants to do is eat and sleep. She's huge and my kids love to lay on her and roll around with her. She cracks my husband and us up because she snores like a truck driving through a fireworks factory – loud and proud!"
Eveland said she is happy to do what she can to make a difference for dogs who truly could offer a lot to a human companion.
"Adopting a dog changes the owner's life for the better. They get a fresh start and you get to give that to them," she explained. "You get to see them romp with your children and the friendship and lifelong bond develop. A little bit of kindness you don't think twice about is a huge deal to them."
But the only way Salfid can continue its operations, Benninger said, is to keep fundraising and soliciting donations from the public, which have dwindled significantly. She said many of the group's volunteers have put up their own savings to cover expenses needed to help the dogs. The group has lowered adoption fees to $50 for dogs 6 months and older to help facilitate more adoptions.
"We are in the business of saving dogs, not making money," she said. "We are just looking to cover our expenses and keep the rescue going."
Salfid is currently looking for volunteers to help foster or market the dogs to get them adopted. They also accept monetary donations as well as donations of food, blankets, food bowls, dog treats and other dog accessories.
Their ultimate goal – to rescue as many dogs as possible and find them permanent, loving homes.
"My hope for every dog we adopt out is to be in a loving, happy home for the rest of the dog's life," Benninger said. "We screen applicants very closely and try to find the dog that fits best for them, their lifestyle and family. They will find a lifelong friend."
For more information on Salfid, visit salfidrescue.org, find them on Facebook, "Salfid Rescue Inc." or on Petfinder.