Darah Conard spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours working with Terry Robbins and the city to feed, medicate and find homes for the thousands of stray dogs in George West over the last 17 years. And now they are looking for reinforcements.
“There’s an extreme abundance of animals being abandoned,” Conard said. “They let them go here in the city limits, don’t take care of them, and dump them in the country and it’s been going on for years.”
Conard said in February it was announced that dogs would be put down after three days in the pound. But the city has since given a two-week time frame to find homes for the stray dogs.
“The council has good hearts and they don’t want to put down either,” Robbins said.
However, adoption doesn’t always happen fast enough, so Conard, Robbins and the city are working on finding foster homes for stray dogs.
“There are people out there, it is just a matter of organizing,” George West City Manager Sandra Martinez said.“We are not a no-kill shelter but we are doing our best with the group to be proactive and we are promoting not to kill. We are just going about it a different way.”
Conard said she will provide foster homes with dog food and cover medical expenses too. She also provides all the dog food for the George West pound and, according to Robbins, she goes through 30 pounds of dog food every day while rescuing dogs.
Conard said she spent $458 in one month for flea medication, $2,000 on medical expenses this week, and more than $70,000 with one veterinarian alone since she started rescuing dogs. She said that as of five years ago she found homes for more than 630 dogs. She has since lost track of how many she’s helped.
Martinez said the shelter gets more than 500 dogs a year with 10 kennels, one strictly for quarantines.
“Don’t take them in if you can’t take care of them,” Conard said. “We need fosters, as many as we can get.”
Martinez said the ideal situation would be for pet owners to spay or neuter their pets to lower the number of stray dogs in the area.
“It comes down to that we need to reach out to the public to get them spayed and neutered,” Robbins said. “That dog will love you just the same after surgery.”
Conard and Robbins are working on bringing a low-cost spay and neuter option to the area. Conard said it can cost over $100 to spay a female dog.
Until then, they have their hands full with new dogs coming in. Conard currently takes them to Wal-Mart to find homes for them and advertises them on Craigslist and in the newspaper. She is planning on taking dogs to the Brush Country Cowboy Church’s rodeos to find them homes too.
She currently has 40 dogs at her home with a 10,000-square-foot snake-proof yard, all of them have any combination of health, age and emotional issues that prevent them from getting adopted.
“A lady said to me ‘why not put them to sleep’ and I bit my tongue, I really did, and said ‘they don’t need to be put to sleep,’” Conard said. “You can’t put a price on a dog’s life.”
She has had to put dogs to sleep before, one for spinal arthritis after two years of medical treatments.
“It was the hardest thing I had to do,” Conard said. “My ultimate goal is to get a no-kill shelter in Live Oak County.”
“We do appreciate these ladies,” Martinez said. “It takes a special person to take away from family life to help the animals in the community. They are saving a lot of puppies.”
To adopt a dog or put one up for adoption, call the city of George West at 449-1556 or Conard at 449-6495.