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Rescued animals brought to TN get chance at better life

8:21 AM, Jul 15, 2012   |    comments
Volunteer Laura Flaherty sits with Charlie Brown, a rescue dog, in one of three large pens at the state fairgrounds Saturday. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean
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By Nicole Young, The Tennessean

As Ashley Bosshart spoke to Daisy, a 6-month-old border collie and Labrador mix, through the steel bars of a crate at the state fairgrounds on Saturday, the dog's tail wagged ever so slightly.

It was a sight that Bosshart never grows tired of. In her four years with Agape Animal Rescue, she has fostered dozens of animals, taking them into her Nashville home and letting them interact with her own pets, Zane, a 6-year-old Great Dane, and Henry, a 4-year-old bird dog and shepherd mix.

"The way I see it is they had a really crappy life before they met me, and I try to make their lives as great as possible," said Bosshart, a real estate agent. "Fostering is such a great privilege. I get to take in these dogs, treat them as they deserve to be treated and help train them. Then they get adopted by a family who loves them, and I get to move on to the next dog."

Daisy was one of 180 dogs, cats and other animals being cared for by the Animal Rescue Corps in a shelter at the fairgrounds. This week, all of the animals will be turned over to partner agencies across North America to begin the adoption process. They were all rescued earlier this month - 94 dogs were taken from a Lebanon property on July 3, and 86 animals were taken from a Sparta property on Monday.

As of Saturday, all but about 50 of the animals had already been placed, said Scotlund Haisley, president and founder of the Corps. In addition to Agape, local agencies taking animals are Noah's Ark Society, Snooty Giggles Dog Rescue, Nashville Cat Rescue, New Leash on Life and Country K-9 Rescue.

Agape picked up 13 dogs on Saturday, said volunteer Tanya Willis.

"We have 11 foster homes ready," she said. "All of these animals will either be going there or to the vet for extra treatments."

Daisy, the border collie and Labrador mix, is one of those who will visit a veterinarian, Bosshart said.

"She has sarcoptic mange, and it's very contagious, so she'll have to be quarantined for about a week at the vet and then another week once I get her home, but she should be OK," she said.

Haisley said most of the animals rescued in the two cases required medical attention.

"About 75 percent of the dogs from the first rescue were heartworm positive," he said. "Many have infections, open sores, flea and tick infestations; the list just goes on and on."

Neglect condemned

Once an animal is rescued through the Corps, it goes through a two-step process. First, the animals are medically evaluated and treatment plans begin. Then they are behaviorally assessed and begin socialization training, if needed.

"When we do these assessments, we start to better understand the amount of neglect these animals have endured," Haisley said. "Because these cases were both surrenders, and not criminal seizures, the former owners are not facing charges and they are not monetarily obligated to pay for the treatments. But, given what I've seen, I cannot responsibly let this neglect go unchecked. I will write a report with a recommendation ... that further action be taken against the owners."

Haisley said he didn't think jail time would be the correct solution. He also said he knew the owners were poor and couldn't afford any type of monetary penalties.

"I think these folks need to be under a court mandate that says they can never own any more animals," he said. "I also think there are some neurological malfunctions here and these people need treatment for it."

Haisley said the Corps, funded through donations, is paying the bills. At the beginning of the operation, he received a $25,000 donation from Ady Gil World Conservation, he said.

"But this has ended up being a $50,000 operation and we're not finished yet," he said. "Ady Gill has pitched in another $15,000, but we're still actively raising more."

To donate to the Corps, visit its website at www.animalrescuecorps.org.

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