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Giving street dogs a second chance in Central Oregon

Local rescue groups share stories of dogs who have much to be thankful for

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Warm shelter, freshly cooked food, and the laughter that comes with being surrounded by loved ones are just some of the things that make the holidays merry.

This Thanksgiving, there are some unique animal rescue groups in Central Oregon that want to remind you it’s not just people who have something to be thankful for.

NewsChannel 21 visited a couple of rescues based in Bend throughout the month of November to hear how they are hoping to change the lives of street dogs around the world.

Jasper is a black-and-white herding dog who belongs to Mary Fister. According to Fister, Jasper was moved from a ranch in Idaho to a rescue because his herding work was underappreciated. At the ranch, however, Fister says Jasper’s situation only got worse.

“In those situations, they’re not pets, they’re tools,” Fister said. “In this case, a 'defective' tool. They didn’t have a need for him, so they were going to destroy him.”

Jasper was then rescued by a non-profit in Bend, aptly named “Herd U Needed A Home” or H.U.N.A.H. 

H.U.N.A.H., founded by Bend resident Flora Steffan, focuses specifically on herding breeds, which executive assistant Tammy Leicht says are often misunderstood.

“People may think, ‘Oh, I have a big backyard,’ and think that’s going to exercise a dog,” Leicht says. “A big backyard is never enough.”

Ten-year-old Abby Powers has been training with Steffan and H.U.N.A.H. for almost a year. She tells NewsChannel 21 she’s trained at least 13 rescue dogs.

“I’ve seen a lot of dogs get adopted, and I’ve named a lot of puppies,” Powers says. “I love them all!”

Although there are many local rescues and nonprofits that hope to rescue dogs from unfortunate situations, giving dogs a second chance at finding a loving home and new families can be more complex than it sounds.

Marianne Cox, who lives in Bend, travels around the world, determined to change the lives of hundreds of homeless, unwanted and mistreated dogs around the world.

During a family trip to Sayulita, Mexico, Cox contacted a local organization, determined to bring her first street dog back home with her. 

In 2017, the Cox family flew Trece, a Vizsla mix, from Mexico to Oregon. Within three days, Cox helped Trece, now named KC, find a permanent home in Bend.

Following her experience with adopting out Trece, Cox founded the non-profit Street Dog Hero, focusing her rescue efforts on dogs living outside of the United States.

Street Dog Hero has rescued dogs from Mexico, India, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, China, South Korea and Albania. The organization has also taken in dogs from overcrowded shelters within the U.S., in Texas, Ohio, and California.

In early November, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., joined in announcing a new resolution calling for an end to the global dog and cat meat trade, citing reports from the Humane Society International that at least 30 million dogs worldwide are slaughtered every year.

According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, all dogs entering the country need to be at least four months old. They also may need rabies vaccine certificates. 

The Animal Welfare Act allows importing dogs into the U.S. for resale, whether through commercial sale or adoption.

Under the AWA, dogs entering the country for resale and adoption have to be at least six months old, in good health and accompanied by an international health certificate that shows they are vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza virus infection. 

NewsChannel 21 spoke to Dr. Crystal Bloodworth, a local veterinarian, to learn more about the guidelines regarding rescuing out-of-state dogs.

“There are diseases we don’t have here in the United States that are present in our companion animals and other areas of the world,” Bloodworth said. “We want to make sure we’re not bringing those diseases into the United States.”

With the passage of Senate Bill 883, oversight of shelters and rescue organizations will transfer from the county level to the state level, by naming the state veterinarian as the “enforcing agency.” 

SB 883 will take effect in January. For more information about H.U.N.A.H., visit their website at http://herduneededahome.com/. To learn more about Street Dog Hero, visit https://www.streetdoghero.org/.

Bend / Deschutes County / Lifestyle / News / Pets / Special Reports / Top Stories

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.

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