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Feb 3, 2009 4:47 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Animal advocacy group heads south to save dogs

Feb 3, 2009 4:47 PM

Priscilla Egan and Whitney Knowlton made a special road trip to North Carolina in late December to save the lives of six dogs that, without their help, would have been put down the next day.

The two friends arrived at the Greene County Animal Control Center on December 29, just in time to rescue six adoptable dogs—two 10-week-old hound mixes, a 3-month-old black Labrador, a 4-month-old yellow Labrador, a 1-year-old Welsh corgi mix and a 2-year-old beagle. The dogs were brought back to Ms. Knowlton’s North Sea home, where they were to remain until suitable homes could be found.

The two women, who are self-proclaimed “lifelong animal lovers,” said they have been fostering rescued animals for several years. They decided to make their efforts official in November when they founded the Last Chance Animal Rescue Fund (LCARF), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to relocating adoptable animals that are scheduled to be euthanized.

Ms. Egan and Ms. Knowlton explained that unlike the Southampton Town Animal Shelter, which does not euthanize adoptable dogs, many shelters across the nation routinely put down those animals because they do not have the means to care for them.

The LCARF co-founders learned of the situation at the North Carolina shelter through a website that alerts animal rescue organizations when adoptable animals are about to be killed.

“What I don’t think people realize is that thousands of dogs are being euthanized across the United States,” Ms. Knowlton said.

“They break your heart,” Ms. Egan added.

The two women, who estimate they have saved about 16 dogs since forming the organization, left the East End for the 780-mile trip the Sunday after Christmas and arrived at the shelter the next day. Upon their arrival, they loaded all six dogs into Ms. Knowlton’s SUV for the 12-hour return trip to Long Island. Upon their return, Ms. Egan and Ms. Knowlton brought all six pooches to East End Veterinary and Emergency Specialty Center in Riverhead, where they were spayed or neutered, vaccinated and treated for heartworms.

Ms. Knowlton, who works as a furniture designer, and Ms. Egan, who lives in East Moriches and works in the public affairs office at Southampton Hospital, spent approximately $6,000 out of their own pockets to pay for the medical treatment of the six dogs. “We make sure they’re healthy,” Ms. Egan said.

Ms. Knowlton explained that dogs held at municipal shelters in other states are susceptible to diseases because those facilities usually do not vaccinate dogs slated for euthanasia. “They don’t want to waste money on animals they intend to kill,” she said.

She explained that many of these dogs are frequently separated from their mothers when they are still too young to care for themselves. “They don’t even have a natural immunity because they haven’t been breast-fed,” she said.

Ms. Egan and Ms. Knowlton noted that many dogs are also frequently put down for treatable illnesses because some shelters do not have the money to pay for medication. “Dogs don’t have to die because they have parasites,” Ms. Knowlton said.

The group also fosters animals from local shelters. Recently, LCARF rescued Teddy, an 8-month-old German shepherd-golden retriever mix with a neurological disorder, from the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter. Officials at that shelter were preparing to put the dog down.

Ms. Knowlton noted that a dog like Teddy, which is also looking for a permanent home, will need extra love and attention, as well as physical therapy for the rest of his life. Therefore, he was viewed as a poor candidate for adoption.

The two women hope to expand their operation, which is largely based out of Ms. Knowlton’s North Sea home, and continue to rescue dogs and cats in need of help. “What people don’t understand is the urgency of these situations,” she said.

Those who wish to make a donation to the group are asked to make their checks payable to “Last Chance Animal Rescue Fund” and mail them to 61 Shore Road, Southampton, New York 11968. Those who would like to adopt a rescued dog can call Ms. Knowlton at 793-8980.

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