Thump, thump, thump comes the drumming from the cages.
Then there are the noses pressed against the bars and the tongues ever hopeful of making contact and maybe even a treat from Cookie Lady. But it’s the eyes that reach in and pull at the heart. They’re hopeful, playful and so full of life.
On Saturday there was a lot of thumping. Barely 24 hours earlier more than 40 dogs arrived in a van from South Carolina. They were packed into crates and piled on top of one another. They had been rescued from “quick kill” shelters in the south where after only several days if no one claims a dog they are put down.
Tammy Flanagan, president of the East Greenwich Animal Protection League had planned on taking ten dogs when the shipment pulled into the Greenwich Bay Animal Hospital.
“When the van pulled up and you saw all those dogs,” she says her voice trailing off. “I ended up taking more than planned.”
Yet, she believes she can find homes for all the dogs.
She’s not going to rush it although the league rents space at the animal hospital and charges $14 a day for boarding a dog.
Flanagan questions how people can get a dog off the Web having only seen pictures and not knowing where it is really coming from. She has a strict policy of acquainting prospective dog owners with the dogs up for adoption. She watches to see how they interact and trusts her instincts when it comes to approving a match.
Dogs adopted from the league are spayed or neutered, have all their vaccinations and carry a micro chip that ensures their identity should they end up being lost and then found. The cost to adopt a dog is $250 for a dog a year or older and $420 for puppies under a year.
Flanagan, who lives in Warwick and up until last week when she received her pink slip drove a Warwick School special education bus, doesn’t know how the rescue system from the south works. She speculates some dogs probably come from overcrowded puppy mills and others from shelters where they would otherwise be euthanized. They all have papers from South Carolina enabling their transporter to take them across state lines and saying they have been vaccinated. How they got here is not Flanagan’s concern. Her efforts are focused on finding good homes for the dogs and the situation the league is faced with now is like no other Flanagan remembers.
The league has 51 dogs up for adoption. Some are only several weeks old and still suckling. Flanagan hopes to find homes for the mother and the pups, but for now they must be kept together. On Saturday she talked with a family that will probably foster the mother and litter until they can be separated.
That’s just a part of her worries.
Some of the dogs were so badly infested with parasites that they are anemic. They had intravenous tubes taped to their legs. Others were quarantined because of coughs. Despite Flanagan’s efforts and those of veterinarians three puppies died.
It may sound desperate, but it isn’t.
Saturday afternoon half a dozen volunteers shampooed and inspected the newest arrivals. They were also showered with attention. Cages were cleaned. Clean bedding was provided. Food and water bowls were filled and they all got a turn at walking. All have names. Amazingly, there’s not much barking, but a lot of thumping tails.
It probably has something to do with Karen Kalunian, who also lives in Warwick. She is a volunteer and calls herself the Cookie Lady. On her cleaning rounds she hands out tidbits. It doesn’t take the dogs long to know the Cookie Lady.
Flanagan started working for the animal hospital 13 years ago. She became the kennel manager and is now a veterinarian assistant. Her association with the animal protection league started six years ago. Now she finds herself trying to balance the job of properly placing dog and cats and raising the funds to make it all work. On top of that there’s recruiting and training volunteers. The league has about ten regular volunteers.
Adoption days are every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Greenwich Bay Animal Hospital (where the League is housed) at 5732 Post Road. On these days prospective pet owners get to spend time with the animals and Flanagan looks in to assess whether it will work. For those who can’t make Sundays, she suggests they call her at 241-4541. The website is www.egapl.org and they can also be found on Facebook.