Oftentimes people assume rescue dogs and shelter dogs are mutts, that pure breed dogs are never abandoned or dumped by their owner. This is far from true. There are countless rescue groups in operation that are breed specific. One of these is Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue in Tampa, Florida.
In 1999, Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue began as a simple effort when Betty Roberts, the founder and former president, helped a single Beagle in need. Over the next few years, she began to help re-home stray and abandoned Beagles with the help of one or two volunteers. In 2003, a group of volunteers made a commitment to saving Beagles and organized the Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue Inc. into a nonprofit organization. By working together, they were able to impact more Beagles, increased their adoptions from 54 beagles in 2003 to 307 beagles in 2008!!! The volunteers and foster families are located throughout the State of Florida. Their Beagles have been adopted by families all around Florida.
Nate Provost serves on the board for Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue and is the foster and volunteer coordinator. He took the time to be interviewed about this wonderful group and explain the constant goals and mission of the rescue.
Denise: When did you start as a volunteer for the rescue?
Nate: I started fostering in October, 2010.
Denise: What drew you to this rescue?
Nate: My previous rescue experience was with Posey County Pound Puppies, an all-breed rescue in a rural county in southern Indiana. I gravitated to helping the beagles of that organization, as my first dog as an adult, Lucky Dog, was a beagle I guess it just sort of happened that way. When I moved to Florida and looked to get involved in rescue again, a beagle-specific rescue made a lot of sense to me. More specifically, when I had a chance to meet some of the volunteers and dogs at their meet ups, I got a real sense that these were people dedicated to making a difference and going above and beyond. They didn't just take the "easy" cases, often helping some of the more medically needy and dogs in real trouble. That takes guts and commitment as an organization.
Denise : How many members are on the board?
Nate: There are 5 of us, living as far-flung as Sanford, Sarasota, Lakeland, Tampa, and Largo. We are a geographically diverse group of volunteers.
Denise: What animal control shelters do you mainly pull from?
Nate: Our intake coordinator works tirelessly with shelters where the dogs have some of the worst odds of making it out without us. That includes but certainly is not limited to Clay, Putnam, Alachua, Levy, Marion, Lake, Polk, and Highlands. Others such as Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Orange, and Brevard are certainly in our rotation as well. It would not surprise me if we have had at least one beagle from every county in Florida at one point or another.
Denise: How many volunteers are currently with the rescue?
Nate: We have about 25 - 30 active volunteers who primarily are our fosters. But we have other people who help us manage electronic communication, answer our woof line (phone), send out thank you's, screen applicants, help in transport etc. It takes a tremendous amount of work to keep an organization like this moving forward.
Denise: Are the dogs housed at a shelter or with a foster network?
Nate : TBBR is entirely foster-based. We do not own a building or have any other assets. We do have access to a kennel at a discounted rate but we try to manage costs and use it only minimally. All of our dogs are in foster homes, which means we have an opportunity to learn as much as we can about them and use that knowledge to make good, permanent matches in "furever" homes.
Denise: What are the long term goals for the rescue?
Nate: Unfortunately, the pet overpopulation problem is daunting. While progress has most definitely been made and momentum is growing, there is likely no near-term end to the work that rescues do. In Polk County alone, approximately 28,000 animals passed through animal control in 2012, with ~75% not making it out alive. That is astonishing and staggering and disgusting. Trying to solve a problem like that is overwhelming.
With that in mind, TBBR is doing their best to do their part. I believe we will always serve the less fortunate beagles and beagle mixes of central Florida. We make sure that our dogs are as healthy as possible when they are adopted including all shots, a microchip, treatment plans for known maladies, and every dog is spayed or neutered. Ending the cycle of accidental litters is the foundation of any responsible rescue. So to that end, we are helping to limit the pet overpopulation. I don't have firm numbers but my estimate is that 75% of the dogs that we get into our system were either altered by animal control before we pulled it or has to be altered by us. And perhaps 40% of the dogs we get need to be treated for heart worm infestation.
TBBR also makes a lifetime commitment to the dogs in our system. We work very hard to make good matches between dogs and applicants and we strive for 100% success rate that these dogs will live out the rest of their natural lives in the home we place them in. But the reality is, we get many dogs back. Sometimes this is through true, justifiable hardship. Others, it is for reasons harder to understand - people "can't take the dog when they move", or it was found at animal control and traced back to us via the microchip. Occasionally, it is just a bad match. But we are here for these dogs. That is our mission and our goal.
You will see "Compassionate Care Cases" or CCC's on our website. These are dogs we understand have little to no chance of adoption. Sometimes they are dumped at a shelter at extremely advanced age and we won't let them die there, like that. Sometimes they have received a medical diagnosis while in our care that limits their placement options. But once we take a dog into our system, we commit to it until the end. This is not the case in all rescues and we are blessed with some very generous and understanding volunteers who understand that a soft bed and good food and a gentle touch are a blessing and a gift for some of the most deserving members of the beagle community.
Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue is continually striving to help more Beagles, but they need the help of dedicated volunteers and foster homes to accomplish their goals.
If you would like to help Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue and donate your time, or are willing to foster or adopt, please visit their website at www.tampabaybeaglerescue.org.