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Hounds need homes fast

Posted: November 5, 2011 2:52 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2011 2:52 p.m.

Daphneyland Basset Rescue Ranch founder Dawn Smith hands out cookies to some of the bassett hound members of "the herd" at Daphneyland Bassett Rescue Ranch in Acton on Tuesday.

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Over the last decade, Dawn Smith of Basset Rescue Network at Daphneyland has rescued thousands of basset hounds.

Seniors, such as Lucy, 12, were surrendered by their owners. Adolescent Surly, 4, was part of an abuse case or young Arlo, 1, who was sick with pneumonia at a high-kill shelter.

Smith knows each dog by name and personality, pointing them out as they trot through the large yard at her Acton rescue facility.

"Lucy loves to sunbathe and Arlo's favorite thing to do is stand on your head," Smith said with a smile, bending down to rub the long ears of the dozen or so dogs surrounding her ankles. "Austin just needs a home where he can hang out in the yard during the day and curl up inside at night."

While Smith has always hoped to find homes for her canine charges, the mission has recently become critical.

Despite having originally been licensed for 100 dogs when she opened her rescue kennel in 2001, animal-control officials have ordered the facility to downsize to 66 dogs by Nov. 23.

"I'm upset. Decreasing our capacity means dogs will die in shelters," she said. "It's not the end of the world, at least we can do 66, but we need volunteers, funds and adoptions. Without those three, it would be catastrophic."

Adoptions for dogs at Basset Rescue Network range between $200 and $400 and require an approved application. All dogs are spayed or neutered, micro-chipped and are up to date on vaccinations.

"It costs between $700 and $900 to care and rehabilitate each dog, so the adoption fees are really donations to help us cover our bare operating costs, which are about $15,000 per month," Smith said.

Potential adopters are welcome to set up an appointment with Smith to meet the dogs during the week or attend the open adoption held at the rescue each weekend.

When it comes to adopting a basset, it should be considered that they are scent hounds with a sense of smell up to 18,000 times greater than a human, which makes them very food-motivated.

"Basset hounds often consider kids a food source, so Cheerios can get stolen and diaper pails ripped up," Smith said. "Some are great with kids, others aren't. It just depends."

What all bassets have in common is the need for exercise and the fact that cold affects them severely. As such, bassets should have regularly scheduled activity and be kept inside at night and during cold days.

The rewards of having a basset are many, at least to Smith, a fourth generation basset hound-owner and second generation rescuer.

"They think they're human; they make you laugh. People love bassets. They make wonderful pet-therapy dogs," Smith said. "I'm also told men want them because they're chick magnets."

John Campbell, 25, of Canyon County started volunteering at Basset Rescue Network after he started dating regular volunteer, Tiare Empy, 20, of Acton.

Now he helps Smith out up to five days a week, and is considering becoming an animal behaviorist or veterinary technician.
"I was a mechanic before, but cars don't respond back the way animals do. You can tell they appreciate what you do for them," Campbell said. "It's pretty awesome to give these dogs a second chance."

Continuing to give these dogs a second chance is becoming increasingly difficult, Smith noted.

"Donations are down about 60 percent and grants are hard to come by. The economy is killing everyone," she said. "I hope the community gets proactive and becomes part of the solution. Even if people can't volunteer, foster or adopt, donations of $5-$10 a month can really be stretched out to help these dogs."

As for hitting the 66 mandate by Nov. 23, Smith is hopeful.

"If we adopt out a dog each day between now and Nov. 23, we can do it," she said.

For more information on Basset Rescue Network at Daphneyland, visit www.daphneyland.org, email basset911@aol.com or call (661) 269-2682. Open adoptions take place on weekends at 6221 Shannon Valley Road, Acton.

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