A few years ago the watchdog group Chains Hurt convinced the city of Staunton to toughen an ordinance protecting dogs from abuse and neglect. Those volunteers have now changed their name and mission, and have rescued hundreds of canines.
So far this year, Augusta Dog Adoptions has taken in 350 stray and abandoned canines, and foster them until they find permanent homes. The nonprofit does it all without paid staff or a shelter of its own.
Sally Williams routinely trolls the Shenandoah Valley Animal Service Center, the regional pound in Augusta County. Thursday, the state-mandated waiting period is up for an unnamed, apparently unwanted Border Collie. She'll go home with the president of Augusta Dog Adoptions, whose first step is evaluation and treatment.
"Decide what personality they are, what medical attention she will need, I will get her spayed," Willliams said. "And then from there, I will either keep her and work with her myself, or I will find a foster home for her."
Alisha Hammer with Augusta Dog Adoptions said, "We probably have about 20 active foster homes at all times. And as soon as a dog is adopted and they're interested in taking another, then we try to find a good match for them."
Volunteers show off their adoptable dogs every two weeks at the PetSmart store in Waynesboro. Depending on their age and breed, dogs may be with their foster families for weeks or months as they wait for a permanent home.
"The question a lot of people ask is how do you give them up? The people that do give up dogs, that makes them available to save so many more lives," Hammer said.
Augusta Dog Adoptions has no shelter of its own, but this year its foster network has taken 226 canines from the pound, more than any other rescue agency. And like the underfed, undertrained Border Collie, they're not all "easy to adopt."
"A lot of rescues don't pick up dogs that are heartworm-positive, or we had a dog that needed its leg amputated," said Williams. "It's just that no one else will rescue them."
Click here and here for more information on Augusta Dog Adoptions and to see some of the rescue canines waiting for a home.