To find out how to help the Paws of Love Dog Sanctuary or to adopt a dog, call 423-942-1056. Shelter officials have waived all adoption fees but reserve the right to do home checks to make sure the dogs are being placed in a safe environment.
JASPER, Tenn. - The 33 furry residents of the Paws of Love Dog Sanctuary in Marion County must find new homes by the end of May or they could face death, volunteers say.
"It's a dire situation out here for these dogs," said Janah Moore, a volunteer at the facility for the past three years.
"It's just heartbreaking. To lose all 33 of them at once will just break us," Moore said, emotion creeping into her voice as five happy canines trailed her around the shelter's fenced-in acre and a half about a mile off U.S. Highway 41.
Volunteer Chris Pettine said the death of one of the property owners in 2007 led to the shelter's impending closure.
"The shelter property changed hands and, once that was finalized, we were given till the end of May to find a home for the shelter," Pettine said. "Now, we are looking for some property and we're looking for some good homes."
The shelter had been dubbed the Paws of Love Dog Sanctuary when volunteers totally rebuilt the operation after its predecessor, the Perry Link Memorial Humane Society shelter, was shut down in 2005.
Although the private shelter adopts dogs out when it can find a suitable home, most of the dogs have lived there for years, Moore said. The Paws of Love Dog Sanctuary no longer accepts new residents and it's not a rescue shelter, the volunteers said. It has kept dogs that volunteers brought in over the years and was intended to be their home until they were adopted, they said.
Moore and Pettine would like to find a new location for the sanctuary so the older animals can live out their lives with the only "family" they know.
Some of the dogs are unfit for adoption because of age, health or behavior problems, Moore and Pettine said. But Moore hopes homes can be found for 20 or so of the shelter's adoptable dogs.
The dogs are mostly medium to large animals, many of them a mix of shepherds and Labradors or other hunting dogs, she said. Most are between 4 and 8 years old, she said.
Moore is worried that, when time runs out, the dogs who are not adopted will have to be euthanized.
She said that, in her three years at Paws of Love, only two dogs have been put down and that was because of age.
Moore and Pettine say the shelter still needs dog food and volunteer help.
"If anybody wants to donate time, their land, fencing or shelter materials, we need it," Pettine said. "Especially if we get to move."