Thanks to Oxford’s K9 Stray Rescue League, a total of 637 dogs found their forever homes in 2017.
Lori Stevenson, the group’s president, loves “the look in the dogs’ eyes when they know that they’re safe.”
“When we’re pulling them out of animal control (facilities), they’re scared to death,” she said. “They get to our place, once they settle in, you can just see they feel safe. It’s a really rewarding feeling to watch that animal blossom and grow and feel confident, then find a family.”
Founded in 1990, the K9 Stray Rescue League is a state and federally licensed nonprofit group that saves dogs from being euthanized at shelters and accepts those surrendered by owners for various reasons. All dogs are cared for until they’re adopted into permanent homes.
Although helping 637 dogs is a laudable feat, Stevenson noted it’s less than previous years.
“Our numbers were a little off,” she said.
In 2015, the K9 Stray Rescue League found homes for 773 dogs. The next year, 741 dogs were adopted.
Stevenson believes their numbers were down in 2017 because of a national organization that partners with participating shelters and rescues, and pays all of the adoption fees in order to encourage perspective pet owners to choose rescue dogs.
“People get a free, vetted dog,” Stevenson said.
This national organization held two free-adoption events in Michigan last year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The K9 Stray Rescue League did not participate.
“We definitely saw a reduction in our adoptions (during) the two months of the year that they did that,” Stevenson said.
While these free-adoption events are quite popular and extremely successful at finding homes for thousands of dogs in shelters, the K9 Stray Rescue League doesn’t participate because Stevenson said it’s more concerned with quality as opposed to quantity when it comes to adoptions.
“We’re not looking for the quickest home,” she explained. “We’re looking for an appropriate home that’s going to be forever, with people that can afford to take care of them.”
Stevenson said these free-adoption events “kind of scare us.”
“If (people) can’t afford to pay the adoption fee, what are the chances of the dog ever seeing a vet again?” she said.
The K9 Stray Rescue League prides itself on the high level of medical attention each and every dog who comes through its doors receives.
Last year, the group spent $68,000 on medical care and took in 610 dogs.
Before dogs are adopted, they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, undergo heartworm and fecal tests, and receive whatever medical care they may require. That care can include heartworm treatments, medications, leg amputations, tumor biopsies and removals, hip surgeries and eye surgeries.
“Anything they need, we give them,” Stevenson said. “I can’t stand to see a dog in pain.”
Right now, there’s a beagle named L.B. being cared for by the K9 Stray Rescue League who has a deformed back leg.
“He’s only got half of a leg,” Stevenson said. “The leg comes down about an inch-and-a-half beyond the knee.”
The group is working with local veterinarian Dr. Patrick Glidden, of the Lakeville Animal Clinic, to improve L.B.’s quality of life.
“We are going to fit him with a prosthetic leg, so that he can get around better. He’s pretty cute,” Stevenson said.
So, what does the K9 Stray Rescue League need as it enters 2018?
“Of course, money is always a big one,” Stevenson said.
Money is what pays veterinary bills, buys food, medications and supplies, and keeps the group’s heated, comfortable and clean kennel facility operating 24-7. The facility, located at 2120 Metamora Rd., just west of M-24, is capable of housing 50 to 60 dogs.
“Our kennels are starting to show some wear and soon, we’re going to have to start replacing them,” Stevenson noted. “I’m guessing within the next couple years, all of the kennels are going to have to be replaced again.”
Besides funds, the group needs leashes, collars, flea control products, bleach, dog food and peanut butter that does not contain xylitol.
Xylitol is a naturally-occurring substance that’s widely used as a sugar substitute. It’s safe for humans to consume, but it’s toxic to canines. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, in dogs, smaller ingestions of xylitol “can cause an acute, life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-15 minutes,” while larger ingestions “can result in acute liver necrosis and liver failure.”
Stevenson has been active with the K9 Stray Rescue League since 2003. “I love the dogs,” she said. “Animals have always been a very basic part of my life, even as a kid.”
She got involved with the group after walking into an animal control facility and realizing that “some really great dogs are being euthanized.”
“That guided my life after that,” she said.
Not only does adopting a rescue dog save an animal’s life, Stevenson believes it can help build a better world. “Teaching your child to treat an animal humanely and with compassion goes a long way in life,” she said. “They teach your children how to treat other people and how to act in society.”
For more information, please visit www.k9stray.com, check out the group’s Facebook page or call (248) 628-0435. Kennel hours are 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Thursday; 2-5 p.m. Friday; and 12-4 p.m. Saturday.