Puppy pack escapes ‘ruff’ flooding with Oregon adventure

Oregon Humane Society helps Tulare County Animal Services by taking 62 puppies off their hands to help find homes

PORTLAND, ORE. – Instead of running from Cruella through treacherous weather, 60 puppies were put on an airplane and flown almost 800 miles to find their own happy ending with the help of the Oregon Humane Society.

On April 20, a shipment of 62 puppies from Tulare County touched down in Portland, Ore. ready to start a new life.  Animal services operations manager Cassie Heffington said they are struggling to find homes for the amount of animals that are coming through their doors. Tulare County Animal Services was in need of help after almost all extra space in their shelter was taken up by “pop-up kennels” full of puppies.

“We’re immensely grateful to the ASPCA and to Oregon Humane Society for taking on these puppies,” Heffington said. “It’s just phenomenal and a huge relief on my staff to be able to see those open kennels the next morning, and know that we can breathe for a second before the next wave of puppies comes in.”

The Oregon Humane Society (OHS) was available to help through their Second Chance program which was created 25 years ago to help alleviate some of the stress on overcrowded shelters who need the extra help. Laura Klink, public information manager with OHS said they were incredibly happy to be able to help out Tulare County Animal Services Agency.

“We have a great crew of volunteers that helped with the transport. It’s always so exciting for us here at Oregon Humane Society when a big transport like this comes in because we know that these animals are about to start a new chapter in their lives,” Klink said.

There are several factors that have played into the influx of puppies at Tulare County Animal Services Agency according to Heffington. The amount of animals being brought in is typical, but due to things like the recent flooding, inflationary costs and the influx of adoptions during the pandemic, people just are not adopting like they typically would be, she said. Tulare County Animal Services said despite running a $20 adoption special, they still had 85 puppies spilling out of the puppy room and into the hallways, other rooms and even in the cattery area.

Klink said puppies are labor intensive and need extra care, so the relief that must come off the sending agency is huge. At the OHS, they have the space and were able to separate an entire area for the new animals. OHS was able to take the majority of the puppies, but through a few adoptions and some local partners Tulare County Animal Services was able to place the remaining 23 animals of their overflow.

Of the 62 puppies sent to Oregon, 16 were sent to the OHS Salem Campus and the remaining 46 went to their main Portland campus. The majority of the animals ranged from 10 weeks to three months old, but Klink said there were two or three who were around six to eight months old. The youngest puppies went straight into foster care, until they are old enough to be adopted.

“The thing about puppies in a shelter environment is that they are a lot more vulnerable to illnesses, and caring for puppies is very labor intensive, they are very messy,” Klink said. “And so I could see where if you are a smaller Animal Services Agency that could really become pretty overwhelming pretty quickly.”

Klink said she expects the puppies to be adopted within the next few weeks. They are working on getting all the animals spayed, neutered and taken care of to be ready for adoption. According to Klink, the society handles about 10,000 adoptions each year, so they try to bring in as many animals as they can to help find them a good home. The OHS also provides educational material for those who are looking to adopt a puppy. Klink said they work to educate their adopters by providing resources and classes to help individuals know that these animals do require work.

“Puppies are cute, but they also require a lot of care, they also require a lot of training,” Klink added. “So we really try to make sure that we educate adopters on what these puppies will need.”

The ASPCA was responsible for aiding in the transport of animals to Oregon. Without their help the mission would not have been successful.

As the OHS’s Second Chance program has been around since 1997, they have dealt with these types of transports in the past. The larger transports are not uncommon for OHS and they have received dogs from Hawaii, Virginia and several other places across the country. These loads are in addition to the 10-20 animals they receive locally each week.

“For us as animal welfare professionals to know that we are helping our colleagues in this way is also just really really rewarding,” Klink said.

Heffington said she does not expect the influx of puppies to stop any time soon and she said kitten season is nearing as well. She said this is “a normal spring occurrence” for the area and other places as well. Heffington also said for anyone who sees a litter of kittens to please leave them where they are as they have a much higher chance of surviving with their mother rather than in the shelter.

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