The timid Border Collie with honey-colored eyes was startled awake by the shrill bark of a dog not half her size. The momentary silence had been just long enough for her to succumb to both mental and physical exhaustion. Earlier, she tried to sleep, but the sounds of animals and humans were constant intruders. Her fatigue added to her uneasiness, and combined with the anguish she had experienced in her own home for the past year, she knew she had been forgotten.
At least here, in the shelter, she was fed before her stomach ached, and her water bowl was kept full. Young children didn’t poke and pull at her. She was led out into a yard to relieve herself long before she couldn’t hold it anymore and had an accident. And she had company.
Loud sounds sent her cowering in the corner, but it was reassuring to know that there were people and other animals around. At home, she had been alone all day. And even when her owners returned in the evening, she was still invisible. Here, she felt safe, but dogs and cats disappeared every day.
The fate of the gentle Border Collie is the same as thousands of other dogs and cats in our area. Every day in southwest Wake County, stray, abandoned, and surrendered animals appear at high-kill animal shelters. Innocents without advocates, no one to understand their history and intervene for their future.
Fortunately for them, they have a voice—a chorus of voices, in fact—led by Danella Anderson and Tammy Brundage, co-founders of Underdog Ranch Pet Adoptions.
Early in 2013, Anderson and Brundage merged with the well-established dog rescue, A New Leash on Life. They re-named the agency and reorganized the non-profit business model. What did not change was their mission: To protect the lives of stray, abused, and/or homeless companion animals and place them in loving permanent homes as family members.
Underdog Ranch is based in Angier and gathers dogs and cats from Wake and Johnston County animal shelters, animal cruelty investigations, and from individuals who have rescued strays on their own. The Ranch is not a depository for personal pets being surrendered by their owners.
Rescued animals receive veterinary care, spaying or neutering, immunizations, and surgery, if necessary. Foster families provide food, basic obedience training, socialization, and plenty of love and attention. For many animals, their foster homes are their first source of healing from the physical and emotional scars of fear, abuse, and neglect.
As far as Anderson and Brundage are concerned, “When we bring a dog or cat into our organization, we make a commitment to that pet to make sure that it will be happy and healthy for the rest of its life.”
This commitment is why the Underdog Ranch adoption process is a comprehensive one. Their website and Facebook page feature dogs and cats that are ready for new homes, along with what is known of an animal’s history and the observations and expectations of the foster family. Every month, the animals are given the “spa treatment” before attending an adoption event in the Triangle. But if you’re in the market for a new pet, don’t expect to drop in at an event and drive home with a new member of the family.
Event volunteers are encouraged to screen the interaction between the animals and potential owners. Interested individuals who pass the on-the-spot test will be asked to fill out an application. Every application is followed by an extensive interview to determine the quality and suitability of the new environment.
If a dog or cat already exists in the home, Underdog Ranch conducts a follow-up with the family’s veterinarian and a supervised meet-and-greet before completing the process with a home visit to ensure that the pet is happy, healthy, and in the best possible permanent home.
Of course, like most rescue agencies, Underdog Ranch depends on its capable, dependable team of volunteers. Dedicated animal lovers offer their homes and themselves as foster guardians; staff adoption events; transport dogs from one location to another; bathe, feed, train, and exercise dogs daily and before events; tend to the organization’s administrative tasks; and share their skills and talents in any one of a number of other ways. Most of all, they care about the animals.
If you have a little extra time, and a lot of love to spare, or if you would consider becoming a foster guardian, Underdog Ranch wants your help! Come to an adoption event and visit with the volunteers. Or, go to the website and fill out a volunteer form or a foster application so a staff member can contact you.
An equally important way to help is through donations. A great deal of money is needed to keep a rescue group in business. Monetary gifts cover everything from food to veterinary care, blankets to transport crates, bathing supplies to leashes and collars. If you have ever cared for any type of pet, you know how much gear is required.
Today, at the Underdog Ranch property in Angier, plans are underway to build a fence and create a tastefully appealing landscaped area where owners who have cleared the application process can bring current pets to safely socialize with their new family member before taking their dogs home together. The organization has also started a separate fund for construction of a larger building where all of the dogs and cats can be cared for together when they come into the program. This project is targeted for 2015.
Underdog Ranch’s website is set up to securely accept online donations, or contributions can be mailed to Underdog Ranch, P.O. Box 217, Angier, NC 27501. All donations are tax-deductible and no offering is too little. Big things can be done with small amounts.
Underdog Ranch will hold its next adoption event on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at Tractor Supply Company in Fuquay-Varina (1348 N. Main Street) from noon to 3 p.m. If your home is missing the heartbeat and unrestrained affection that a dog or cat can provide, come and meet the animals ready for permanent homes.
Animal lovers agree that in a perfect world, our pets would be immortal. In reality, the short lives of some dogs and cats will intersect with danger, mistreatment, and injury. As Anderson tells us, “I feel that it is my path in life to speak for them.” If you choose to listen, you could be “forever” for a dog or cat whose days were numbered.
For more information visit www.udranch.org.