By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer
Vikki Heuman said the empty kennels at the Muskogee Animal Shelter made her cry.
An Illinois-based group — Tails Humane Society — and the Petco Foundation agreed to transport and place every dog at the shelter into a foster home.
Heuman’s tears were of the happy variety.
“I saw the empty kennels and just broke down,” Heuman, Muskogee Animal Control supervisor, said.
Laurie Young, who works at the shelter, said Illinois is a mandatory spay and neuter state.
“They don’t have the overabundance of strays there like we do here,” Young said. “So we’re more than happy to give them our dogs, to help get them into good homes.”
Heuman said she anticipated the group accepting “at max, 15 dogs.” However Petco representatives gave a series of temperament tests to the dogs and decided to take the entire group.
Heuman said the group would test for behaviors that might make a dog harder to adopt. They would put food in the dog’s bowl, then use a fake hand to try and take the bowl away, to ensure the dog wasn’t too aggressive toward humans.
“They all passed, which was a positive for the dogs and shone positively on the shelter, as well,” Heuman said.
There are about 20 dogs remaining in the kennel, awaiting transport Sunday.
“We’ll be taking the final batch of dogs to Vian Sunday,” Heuman said. “And from there they’ll be headed to Illinois and to their foster families.”
While fostered, the dogs will learn skills to help make them more adoptable.
“They’ll be house-trained and be taught different things,” Young said. “This is just a gift. A gift from God.”
Young said the program has 200 Illinois foster families lined up to take care of the dogs.
“Once the dogs are all ready, Petco will have a big adoption event up there,” Young said. “It’s great for shelters like us. We want to see these dogs in good homes, and so do they. And these families get to have good, healthy, vaccinated dogs. Everyone wins.”
Williams said each dog transported will have a full round of shots and vaccinations, and will be spayed or neutered.
Young said sponsorships from the public have allowed the shelter to keep the dogs healthy and happy, now ensuring they’ll find a home.
“This is all thanks, really, to the people of Muskogee that have helped us sponsor these dogs, to keep them alive,” Young said. “We can’t say enough about the help the public here provides us.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth @muskogeephoenix.com.