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Hundreds of at-risk puppies being sent to Colorado by Houston nonprofit

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There's more than a million stray animals roaming the streets of the Houston metro area, according to one source, who adds that overwhelmed shelters are euthanizing as much as 90 percent of the animals they take in.

Houston is facing a perfect storm, said the source, Cindy Perini. It has a warm tropical climate and longer breeding season. Perini said the area is saturated with puppies, many of which are dying needlessly.

Perini is the founder of a Houston nonprofit organization, Rescued Pets Movement(www.rescuedpetsmovement.org). And her nonprofit has turned to Colorado for help.

After reading about the better situation in Colorado - a day's drive away - she started networking with rescues and shelters in the Centennial State. Since RPM was launched in October of last year, about 2,700 canines have been moved here.

Many of the animals are puppies, which are prized by potential adopters. And having puppies helps bring people in the door of animal facilities, where other animals may catch their eye as well.

"Its a win-win situation," said Perini. In fact, Perini's group is not the first to use the Colorado connection.

The Humane Society of Boulder Valley(www.boulderhumane.org), until last month got weekly shipments of dogs from the PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin' program, which moves animals from low-adoption to high-adoption shelters. Boulder was one of 21 destination shelters nationwide capable of accepting transfer dogs, but a spokesman said funding was cut off after July's shipment.

Davyd Smith, a spokesman for No Kill Colorado(www.nokilldenver.org), said that in 2013, 17,000 dogs were transferred here from other states, even though he thinks there is capacity here for about 10,000

"Transfer is one tool in the lifesavers belt," said Smyth, whose organization is critical of the number of euthanizations in many shelters ."But it is not a surefire solution without the rest of the No Kill Equation(www.nokilladvocacycenter.org). When you consider the resources in people and money that we use to transport, how more effective would that be to spend that money on spay/neuter, local adoption programs at the source, foster programs, etc.?"

He stressed that no animal already in a shelter should be killed to make room for transfers.

Perini doesn't think that happens. "There are people who will argue if you bring animals in, other animals won't get adopted," she said. "There is a tendency of people to say this is my neighborhood, stay out. But I think what we knocked out is animals from breeders and puppy mills.

An official at Longmont Humane Society(www.longmonthumane.org), a no-kill shelter that is one of the 70 to 80 organizations that get Houston transfers. said it doesn't place an unreasonable burden on her shelter.

"No, said Sarah Clusman, operations manager. "If we have available kennel space, after taking in our community's dogs and cats, we are pleased to save lives from other local shelters, as well as our transferring partners out of the area.

"We receive vaccinated and healthy puppies who would otherwise be euthanized in Texas due to no/limited adoption options. Here, in Colorado, we rarely get in litters of puppies yet the community is anxious to adopt young dogs."

Perini's group gives all transported dogs necessary health care.

The former corporate attorney said Rescued Pets Movement now has six employees and 300-400 volunteers (including those who foster the animals).

Until recently, Rescued Pets Movement was funded completely through private donations. "Now, the City of Houston (which runs the city shelter) is getting some skin in the game," said Ashtyn Rivet, a spokesperson. "The new City of Houston contract provides $265,000 to the Rescued Pets Movement endeavor. That will provide transport costs ($75 peranimal) for over 3,500 more animals. Rescued Pets Movement will also rely heavily on private donations to remain as effective as possible." Rivet added.

"This transport program is huge for us and the City of Houston." she said

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