By JOSEPH PIEPER
KENNESAW, Ga. — Although it’s called Mostly Mutts, Mostly Mutts takes in more dogs than just mutts.
“We do have a lot of mutts here,” volunteer Amanda Leal says. “But sometimes we have owner turn ins and they’re purebreds.”
Mostly Mutts is a no-kill, 501(c)(3) nonprofit rescue group located on Cherokee Street in Kennesaw.
“We run underneath the Department of Agriculture,” Executive Director Tammy Turley says. “So, they come out and do inspections and we have to run by their policies.”
Mostly Mutts opened in 2004, and originally started out as just a small animal foster home that the founder ran in her backyard. She ran it for 10 years and then retired, and Turley took over as executive director.
“We have a huge foster base now,” Turley says. “We basically started really small and overtime it grew.
“Because it was on her personal property it was a lot smaller, so we moved to another location in Acworth when I took over and then we got this building a year-and-a-half ago.”
And Mostly Mutts certainly has grown. The organization is strictly volunteer based, and they have over 300 volunteers come in every week Monday through Sunday to take care of the animals.
“There’s at least normally 10 people on a shift and there’s four shifts a day,” Turley said. “And the more volunteers that we have, the more dogs that we can save.
“So, we are constantly growing and trying to save more dogs and cats at the same time. Because I don’t want to be that shelter that just pulls a bunch of dogs and they sit in kennels all day until they’re adopted. So, we really work with them.”
Many of these volunteers are also students at Kennesaw State University, and the shelter logs and keeps track of their community service hours if it’s part of their curriculum to graduate.
“They’ll come over and they’ll walk dogs for us. There’s a group of them that take them to Kennesaw Mountain,” says volunteer Betty Gurley. “There’s a process you have to be approved to do that to take a dog off the premises. But once we know who you are and you volunteer for us before then you can take a dog on like we call it ‘a daytrip,’ where they will get to take them out.”
Animals They Take In
Mostly Mutts takes in all kinds of dogs, with the only exception being if the dog is a known biter. They also accept kittens and mother cats if they are nursing or pregnant, but they do not take in other cats.
“We refer everybody else to Cat Rescue, because people just don’t normally come to us for cats,” Turley says. “We’re known more for dogs, so it takes a cat longer to get adopted.”
They work in close relationship with the Cobb County Animal Control and the Paulding County Animal Control.
“We normally go once a week to each one of those shelters and we pull based on the amount of availability that we have here to take the dog in,” Turley says. “Lately we have probably been pulling an average of 10-15 a week.”
And the age of these dogs range anywhere from a newborn pup to an old dog on its deathbed.
“I’m a big sucker for the ones that are sick and the old ones,” Turley said. “So, when we go to the animal shelters and see those old guys sitting there, then we normally do try to pull those. And some of them only live in our foster homes, we know they are not adoptable but we still take care of them until the end.”
The dogs that they accept come from all different kinds of backgrounds. Some are newborn pups, some are from hoarders but most of them are strays.
“A lot of people turn their dogs into animal control and they are really their dog but they don’t want to admit it, so they say they’re a stray,” Turley says.
Spaying and Neutering
Turley said she believes that one of the biggest reasons why there are so many stray dogs and cats is because people do not spay-neuter their pets.
“I think spaying and neutering is also huge because even though your dog never runs away, if you got a male dog and a female goes into heat up to five miles away, your male dog could try to get out of a fence that he’s never done before.”
Turley added that even if people strongly believe their dog would not run away they should still get their dog spayed-neutered.
“They act different when those hormones kick in,” Turley says. “And a dog that would normally not run away will go to find that scent. It’s just nature for them.”
Spaying and neutering your dog can also add years to their lives. Turley says it can be as much as five to seven years that it adds. This is because even if your dog does not get pregnant, a female dog can still develop breast cancer if she is not spayed, and a male dog can develop testicular cancer if he is not neutered. It is not uncommon for the shelter to accept elderly dogs with breast cancer.
“If we pull a dog that is a senior, a lot of them will have breast cancer because they were not spayed-neutered young, and now they’ve got a higher chance of having cancer,” Turley said. “So, then they have to have major surgeries to have all their breast removed, and same thing with the boys with testicular cancer.”
So, to avoid all the potential negative health effects for their dogs down the road, the shelter has all their dogs and kittens spayed-neutered at Kennesaw Mountain Veterinary Services. Everything is spayed-neutered unless it has a heart-condition or there is some medical reason not to.
“They go through a two-week quarantine. Once we pull them they come here,” Turley says. “A lot of our animals are sick when we get them, so we end up having to spend money on bedding and to get them healthy. And then they go into foster homes or live with the shelter until they are adopted.”
In addition to spaying-neutering, Kennesaw Mountain Veterinary Services also provided additional medical treatment for the shelter.
“They do most of our spay-neuters, all of our surgeries and dentals,” Turley says. “They also send a vet here once a week that comes in and gives our rabies shots, or just checks out the animals that we pull.”
The shelter also has a personal dog trainer, Emily Shervin, who comes to the shelter and trains their dogs.
“She has a training program now [the Grateful Dog] where she comes in several times a week and she’s training our volunteers to be trainers, and they are all working with the dogs,” Turley says. “So that has really increased our adoption rate too because now the dogs know sit and stay and how to walk on a leash.”
Shervin also will come out to someone’s house at a discounted rate if they are having problems with a dog adopted from the shelter. This way she can continue the work she was doing with the dog at the shelter.
Making a Difference
Turley expressed that the most rewarding part of her job is seeing the difference that the shelter makes in these dogs’ lives.
“For me going to the different shelters and seeing the dogs scared in the cage because it’s loud and noisy in a shelter, and then bringing them out, putting them in our van, driving them here and all of a sudden more personality comes out and they start feeling safe. And seeing them going into the homes,” Turley says.
“We have tons of people that bring their dogs back after they have adopted them and said, ‘this is perfect and we love them,’ and for me to know that we had a part of saving this dog’s life is very rewarding.”