LAURINBURG — The J. D. & Fran Asher Animal Shelter was a hair quieter than usual on Monday after nearly 40 kennels were emptied before sundown.
“Thirty-nine animals are leaving our facility today,” said shelter director Melinda McMillan. “That’s, like, amazing. But the sad thing is that between now and the Fourth of July, we’ll be full again.”
Eight dogs were shuttled from the Scotland County Humane Society shelter to a no-kill rescue facility in Sanford early Friday morning, where they will stay until they are adopted. One lucky canine was adopted from the shelter and three dogs were reclaimed by their previous owners. Twenty-seven were taken to a facility in Connecticut by Howl on Wheels transportation service of St. Pauls.
“This is the largest pool of all time. It’s very unusual because 19 of the dogs are adults and eight are puppies,” McMillan said, adding that puppies are in higher demand and often the first to go.
Howl on Wheels is one of several transport services that give pets a safe ride from the Southeast, where an abundance of dogs and cats often exist, to northern states where spay and neuter programs are so effective that there are not enough cats and dogs for those who want them.
The shelter usually transfers three to eight animals once or twice a week so that they’ll have a better chance of being adopted, and to make room for more strays or abandoned pets. Over the past four and a half years, the shelter has been working with rescue facilities as far away as New York.
“Some people are going on vacation or decide they don’t want them anymore,” McMillan said. “It’s just too hot, or they’re having a cookout and don’t want any animals and so they surrender their animals. So we’re glad we’re making all this space tonight because we know that they’re going to start rolling in.”
The Howl on Wheels van arrived at the shelter around 7 p.m. to load up the pets and start the nearly 12-hour drive to Connecticut. While some of the dogs were hesitant to get inside, others jumped on the shelter volunteers excitedly and were more than willing to climb aboard.
“They try to pull from us weekly or every other week,” said McMillan. “The hard part is us having enough space to hold the animals until they meet the vaccine requirements to go and transport. Now on this transport we’re lucky we didn’t have to alter everybody to go. They’re taking some unaltered animals because they have their own vet on staff up there and they’ll do the surgeries when they arrive.”
And luckily for Kelly Ivory, the owner of Howl on Wheels, the journey is expected to be tame.
“It may sound surprising, but they’ll be asleep as soon as we get on the road,” she said.