Just a few short years ago city animal control units and municipal pounds were not at all about rescuing stray and abandoned animals. If an animal was picked up as a stray, it had but a few short days for the owners to claim it, or it would be euthanized. Owner surrendered animals were almost certainly put to sleep immediately.
But all that is changing as more and more animal control units and city pounds work side by side with animal rescues and shelters to get these stray and surrendered pets into new homes.
One such animal control unit resides in the Bootheel of Missouri. Animal Control Officer Sarah Fomby works diligently to find the right placement for the animals in her charge.
Sarah hasn't always been an animal control officer, but she has been rescuing and re-homing animals for a number of years working through her local animal rescue network.
Many of the animals that Sarah encounters are dogs that are not easily adoptable due to breed bans and breed specific laws in her area of Southeast Missouri. She finds local, qualified homes for the ones she can, but for Bully breeds or animals with medical or socialization issues she tries to place them with qualified rescues that can take them out of the area for their specific needs, and eventually adoption.
Although Sarah, and other animal control officers like her, do what they can to insure as many animals as possible are saved, she wants to stress to the public that just because you dog has made it to the city pound does not mean it is safe. Like many animal control units and shelters across the nation, space is an issue. And when homes or rescues cannot be found for the animals, and conditions become overcrowded, animals do get euthanized.
Fomby reports that since January she has taken in 115 dogs, all of which have gone to rescues except those currently being held in the kennels of her city’s animal control unit. She struggles daily to place them.
“I’ve had great success with placing dogs, but I couldn’t and don’t do it all myself. It takes a team of people to do it, and I have a group of great team players that I work with,” says Fomby.
Fomby is referring to a team of locals including a local animal rescue, Semo Animal Rescue Alliance, run by Laura Holloway; Tammy Wyman, another local animal control officer who also transports and fosters animals; and Leslie Hall, a nurse who volunteers her time to take pictures of the adoptable pets, transports animals, and fosters some of the harder case dogs with issues of various kinds.
According to Fomby, Semo Animal Rescue Alliance provides transports for the dogs Fomby can get into rescues, as well as paying for veterinary care for her animals. “Although Semo Animal Rescue Alliance provides most of the verterinary care for our animal control dogs I also get assistance for my Bully breeds from breed related rescues and private donations,” said Fomby.
Fomby’s network is not limited to those already mentioned. She says she has a great group of area animal control officers she works with as well. “We all work together to help each other out when the need arises,” says Fomby,” this is a tough business and we all need help from time to time. It’s such a pull on a person both physically and mentally, most animal control officers don’t last much long than five years in this business. Helping each other relieves some of the strain.”
While most of her animal control managed dogs go to qualified rescues, some are occasionally available for private adoption. In order to adopt an animal from Fomby’s unit one must pass the following requirements.
- A home visit to see if the dog will have adequate accommodations; no dogs will be adopted out to live their lives on chains or left out in the elements.
- Home owners must provide vet references that check out.
- All other pets in the home must be fully vetted, altered, and up to date on vaccinations.
- Everyone in the household must be agreeable on the adoption including the other animals in the home.
It’s because of these guidelines that even the non Bully breeds cannot be re-homed in Fomby’s area. She says that relatively few people wishing to adopt a dog can pass the requirements, as simple as they may be. For applicants who do qualify, the dogs are transferred to and adopted through Semo Animal Rescue Alliance.
If you would like to donate to the veterinary care of the Southeast Missouri dogs in Fomby’s animal control facility, send directly to the Animal Health Center, 508 N Main Street, Sikeston. MO, 63801. Donations made directly to the veterinary clinic should be marked “Sarah Fomby Animal Control.”
Anyone wanting to make a donations of toys, blankets, comfort items, and food for the animal control dogs can do so at: City of New Madrid, 560 Mott Street, New Madrid, MO, 63869- Attn: Sarah Fomby Animal Control.