Canine Compassion lecture highlights work to save homeless Tuscaloosa dogs

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The Canine Compassion Fund Inc. aims to decrease canine overpopulation in Tuscaloosa. 

Camille Studebaker

In Tuscaloosa, over 1,000 dogs are euthanized every year due to overpopulation. In an effort to change the statistics, The Canine Compassion Fund Inc., a nonprofit organization in Tuscaloosa aiming to decrease canine overpopulation, lectured at the University on Wednesday to educate attendees on its work to reduce the amount of homeless dogs.

“There is such a tremendous need just staring us in the face here in Tuscaloosa County, and that is the overpopulation problem for canines,” said Laura Chism, secretary and board member of Canine Compassion.

The mission statement of the program declares that the Canine Compassion Fund will work to provide lifetime care and enrichment for surrendered or abandoned senior canines in a specialized facility and through a “forever foster” program; help reduce the population of homeless canines through adoption and spay and neuter programs; and provide responsible pet ownership education to the public.

To achieve its mission, Canine Compassion has four different programs focusing on fostering dogs, rescuing and adopting them, spaying and neutering them and educating the public on overpopulation issues. 

The first of these programs is called the “Well Worn Paws” program. “This is a program we are very, very excited about and certainly working towards. It is intended to be a hospice care facility for senior canines,” Chism said. “We’ve seen in a lot of our rescue efforts that the senior canines, those that are seven years of age and older, are some of the most difficult canines to place.”

Because older dogs usually have more medical needs, they are less adoptable and often the first to be euthanized in shelters. Canine Compassion has acquired three acres of property to build a facility that will house the senior canines at risk of euthanasia.

The organization’s second program is “Rescue and Adoption.” Chism said the members rescue animals from Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter and from citizens who find dogs or cannot care for their own. All animals in Canine Compassion are kept in the foster network until adopted.

There is a mandatory adoption application form that potential families must fill out, and the organization will verify everything on it and then complete a home visit to ensure the environment is safe for the dog. Members also organize transports so dogs can be adopted by owners in other cities and states.

As a volunteer, Friedrich fills in the gaps needed in fostering and transporting. She recounted her experience rescuing a litter of nine puppies from Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter and transporting them to a new and safe home in Birmingham.

“Before, they were undernourished and we had to buy special food for them, and they were really hanging on. They just didn’t have a really good shot at making it in a good healthy environment,” she said. “I think it was like a week later and they were all just bounding all over the place, and it was really great.”

The third program is “Spay/Neuter.” Canine Compassion has partnerships where it can help provide low cost spay or neuter procedures and requires that the mother and father dogs be altered after it recovers a litter of puppies.

“As I mentioned, one of the most effective ways to curb this overpopulation problem is spaying and neutering so that dogs are not reproducing in the same exponential way that they have been,” Chism said.

“Education” is the last of the four programs. To educate the public on the overpopulation issue, members of the organization talk about proper pet care and ways to reduce the surplus.

“As you can imagine, this is an essential part of our mission in just promoting awareness of the overpopulation problem for companion animals and what our responsibility is in addressing it,” she said.