TRAVERSE CITY — Patti Goudey snatches dogs from the jaws of death.
Goudey, co-founder of the area pet welfare organization H.A.N.D.S.S. to the Rescue, saves dogs scheduled to be euthanized at shelters and animal control facilities — sometimes hours before their sentence — because of lack of space, medical conditions or severe injuries.
It’s a job she and about 20 volunteers wish they didn’t have to do, but one made necessary by rampant pet overpopulation. Every year 3 million to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized nationwide simply because there aren’t enough homes for them, she said. In Michigan, more than 800 cats are euthanized every hour.
And while groups like Goudey’s try to make a difference, their efforts are barely making a dent.
“We deal with, on a daily basis, such traumatic stories on people and their pets. It’s heartbreak,” said June McGrath, co-founder and director of AC PAW, which has been rescuing homeless dogs and cats in the Grand Traverse region for more than 18 years. “We all know that spaying and neutering is the answer. We prevent them from being born and we prevent the pain and suffering that go along with being a stray and abused.
“But it has become very, very expensive and most people don’t have the money to spend $300 to spay their cat and dog. They don’t grasp the real issue with letting them reproduce and giving them out to people, which contributes to pet overpopulation. They don’t understand the force behind why they should do it,” she said.
To help stop the cycle of unwanted pets in the greater Grand Traverse area, the two animal welfare groups recently joined forces with a third — UN-Cats, which provides food, shelter, medical care, and adoptive homes for cats, especially those with feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.