When April Burnside got a call on Saturday about eight dogs needing to be picked up from a breeder, she thought it would be an easy run — she had enough crates and foster homes lined up to take them.
But she left the breeder with nearly five times the number of dogs.
“It happens, unfortunately,” said Burnside, founder of central Ohio nonprofit animal rescue FREEdom Tails Ohio.“You’ll go to a breeder to pick up a dog, then you’ll start talking to them and they’ll say, ‘Oh, but I have this one, and this one, and this one, and this one that I don’t know what to do with anymore because it’s not producing’ or ‘It’s sick.’”
FREEdom Tails?specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating breeding animals. It’s entirely foster-based, meaning every animal that it rescues will stay with a family while awaiting adoption. At the end of the night, the rescue brought in 37 dogs and 12 cats. It’s planning to take in another 16 dogs this weekend.
Burnside said the number of animals coming through FREEdom Tails Ohio is much higher than normal, estimating that she has been receving nearly triple the number of calls from breeders asking her to take the group’s animal. She considers it fallout from the pandemic; after a year of high demand for pandemic pups and quarantine cats, ill-prepared breeders and owners alike are surrendering animals at a record pace.
“I actually said this was going to happen when our adoptions increased last year,” Burnside said. “We had more adoptions when the state of Ohio was shut down last year than any other time before.”
It’s something she said other animal rescues in the area experienced as well — and they’re experiencing similar numbers of surrenders from owners who cannot care for animals as they return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.
Burnside?said to keep up with demand during the pandemic, many breeders continued to use dogs who otherwise should have been retired. Now that demand has dropped, breeders are left with sick breeding, or parent, dogs and a surplus of puppies.
Most of the dogs from Saturday night’s rescue have medical issues. Two dogs had such severe ear infections that they each scratched one of their ears off, Burnside said. Another dog required emergency surgery for a uterus infection. Three puppies had untreated hernias.?
All the animals needed bathed — many of them requiring two or three baths to get the dirt and waste out of their coats, Burnside said. It took her?and two volunteers 13 hours to wash the animals and trim their overgrown nails.
Faced with nearly 50 animals in need of homes and medical attention, FREEdom Tails Ohio posted a fundraiser on Facebook Sunday that by noon Tuesday had?raised more than $4,600. The 31 dogs the rescue ended up taking in — six went to central Ohio animal rescue SPEAK! For the Unspoken — all have been assigned foster homes.
But Burnside said as the summer goes on, the number of animals in need of homes will only continue to increase. The rescue is always looking for more applicants to be foster homes.
She said foster parents need to be patient and understanding — many of the animals aren’t housetrained and come with a lot of anxiety.
“These dogs come from living in a cage, they don’t really know what it’s like to be in a home,” Burnside said. “Even noises like a doorbell or a TV or a vacuum cleaner can scare them.”
Those interested in becoming foster parents can apply using a?form on FREEdom Tail Ohio’s website and emailing the completed applications to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to medical needs, dogs from Saturday’s rescue are not ready for adoption — but Burnside asks that people help out however they can, whether it be by volunteering at?an animal rescue, donating supplies or money or adopting from other shelters.
”All rescues are overwhelmed right now,” Burnside said. “High numbers of incoming dogs and cats and low numbers of adoptions.”