Five Years and Counting, Saving Shelter Dogs One Month at a Time

By: PuppyGirl Kate Whitney – December 2012

PuppyGirl Kate Whitney and Valley Patriot Publisher Tom Duggan
PuppyGirl Kate Whitney and Valley Patriot Publisher Tom Duggan

I had just joined my dad in running our golf company called “SwingRite” when I contacted Tom about the possibility of him writing an article to highlight our local company.Without the “VP”, there would be no Puppy Girl column. Tom has given me an outlet to promote rescue and adoption and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. I still remember the first day I met with Tom.

During our meeting, I happened to mention that I had just become involved with a great puppy rescue group out of Haverhill called “One Tail at a Time.”

Well that’s all it took. Forget the interview about the golf company! Tom asked me if I liked to write and if I wanted to write a column about saving puppies for the Valley Patriot.

I thought ‘what better way to get the word out about One Tail at a Time and dog rescue?’

I also want to thank all of my readers who have been with me from the start of my column in 2007 and to those who I have picked up along the way over the past few years.

Thanks to Tom I’ve been able to educate my readers on many different topics from: healthy food choices for your dog, to summertime pet safety tips.

Writing my column “Puppy Love” is a hobby for me – and dog rescue is a passion. I can say that it’s a really great feeling to be involved with two great pastimes that provide me so much joy.

My biggest goal with writing Puppy Love is to educate and bring awareness to my readers. If you learn just one thing from reading my column, that makes it all worthwhile. One last thank you to PG, my Puppy Love column editor and my best friend. Thanks for giving me the confidence and inspiration to keep writing.

So here we are, 5 years later. Many things have changed, but one thing remains the same- there are still over crowded shelters and millions of dogs are being euthanized every year, simply because there are not enough homes for them. Let’s talk about an organization that is trying to help with that problem. If you have read my columns before, it’s no surprise what organization I’m talking about.


Kate Whitney, The Valley Patriot's PuppyGirl
Kate Whitney, The Valley Patriot’s PuppyGirl

One Tail at a Time Rescue is doing their 2nd annual home for the holidays (H4H) program. So what exactly does H4H’s mean? For most of us, December is a month that is filled with giving, magic and holiday cheer. But for shelter dogs, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a “last call” for many shelter dogs. The period of time from Thanksgiving through December 23rd is a low adoption time. People are busy preparing their homes and lives for the upcoming holidays.

One of our amazing volunteers and intake coordinator (she’s the one who pulls the dogs from the shelter) down in Virginia, Erin Webber, remembers seeing a few very adoptable dogs at her local shelter. A few days later, she found out they had been euthanized.

Upset, she looked into why this had happened. Many shelters close for the holidays and it’s a lot easier to deal with feeding and cleaning when you have smaller numbers than a 100% packed shelter. So the shelters “clean out” -if you will. The shelter is also packed due to the fact there are fewer adoptions during this time.

They are also preparing for the influx of dogs and cute puppies that will arrive at the shelter shortly after Christmas. Some of these dogs were given as gifts to sometimes unsuspecting recipients. Or the cute puppy that the kids went crazy over has all of a sudden lost his appeal and the novelty has worn off. Enough with the sad but true reality of the world of rescue…this is where One Tail at a Time and H4H program comes in.

One year (before she approached One Tail with the idea) Erin pulled as many dogs as she could and kept them at her house or boarded them until she found foster or forever homes for them. Last year Erin approached One Tail with the sad facts about the “happy holiday season” for shelter dogs. She also talked to her local shelters and worked out an agreement with them that they would lower the pull and vetting fees, and therefore we could reflect this deal with lower adoption fees.

We wasted no time. Meg Reynolds, the President of the rescue was on board. Our volunteer coordinators – Danielle Castignetti this year and Lisa Cerroni last year- sent out an email to our foster base and pleaded for them to open their hearts and their homes this holiday season. I remember reading the email and within a few minutes, responses from foster homes started to flood in (myself included). People replied “count me in!”, “sign us up”, “we’ll take one!” it was truly overwhelming.

Valley Patriot PuppyGirl Kate Whitney of one Tail at a TimeThe holidays are a tough time. People are always busy, but the holidays prove to be an extra busy time for most. The fact that these volunteers would take on the responsibility of having a four legged house guest for an unknown amount of time, was just incredible! Not to mention they didn’t even know what kind of dog they would be getting. During other times of the year we have a little more time and can often times send emails with the pictures of the dogs we saved and foster homes can “pick” which dog they would prefer to foster.

The Home for the Holidays dogs are such an urgent case that we simply don’t have time to take and send pictures and let people decide. We have to know who is on board and then just pull! A few hours can mean life or death for these dogs. The families that have volunteered to foster a H4H’s dog have given the best gift this holiday season, a second chance to these amazing shelter dogs. It really doesn’t get much better than knowing you truly saved a life.

I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to all the amazing people who make up the volunteer group and foster home base for One Tail at a Time. I will give my readers an update in an upcoming column about exactly how many dogs we were able to save throughout H4H’s program.

If you want to donate to One Tail at a Time Rescue or “sponsor” one of the dogs that we save (I can email you a picture of the exact dog your donation when to), please send a check to One Tail at a Time Rescue PO Box 155 Boxford, MA. 01921. Remember all donations are tax deductible!

What’s great about donating to One Tail is that you know exactly where your money is going. It’s going to saving more dogs, paying for vet bills and buying food and toys for the dogs we save. We are 100% volunteer, so no one gets paid for their time, gas, etc. Keep that in mind when you are thinking about charitable organizations to donate to this holiday.

Isn’t it nice to know that 100% of your donation goes towards the actual cause you wanted it to go to? Wishing you and your families a very happy holiday and a healthy new year! Happy Holidays!