Rescue group finds homes for nearly 600 dogs

Justine Hubbard, interim president of the Oxford-based K9 Stray Rescue League, poses with Sky, a friendly husky who’s looking for a home. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
Justine Hubbard, interim president of the Oxford-based K9 Stray Rescue League, poses with Sky, a friendly husky who’s looking for a home. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.

2018 was a productive year for K9 Stray Rescue League (K9SRL) as it found homes for more dogs than it took in.

The Oxford-based nonprofit organization saved the lives of 576 pooches last year and processed 594 adoptions.

“It is down from prior years, but they’re quality adoptions,” said K9SRL Interim President Justine Hubbard. “Sometimes dogs are returned because they’re not a good fit (for their new home). Now we have a better process in place (to prevent that).”

For example, K9SRL does temperament testing using the Safety Assessment for Evaluating Rehoming (SAFER) program from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

SAFER identifies a dog’s comfort level with restraint and touch, reaction to new experiences, bite inhibition, behavior around food and toys, and arousal level toward other dogs, according to the ASPCA. The test helps shelters and rescue groups determine which canines are ready for adoption, which need behavior modification and which ones must be carefully managed if placed in a home.

Hubbard said temperament testing helps ensure things such as dogs that need to live alone aren’t placed in homes with other dogs and dogs with a propensity for loud barking don’t go to live in apartment buildings.

Looking ahead, Hubbard said K9SRL will continue seeking additional manpower to keep things running.

“Volunteers are always, always needed,” she said. “K9 is a large organization that has many opportunities to volunteer available . . . If you have a special talent, we can put (it to) use.”

Hubbard, a 2004 Clarkston High School graduate, sees herself as a perfect example.

Between being a small business owner and having three young children, she doesn’t have much spare time to spend at the kennel, so she manages the organization’s Facebook page.

“I can’t be on-site, but I can still help,” she said.

Hubbard has been volunteering with K9SRL since she was 16 years old.

“K9 saved me,” she said.

Hubbard described her home life growing up as “rocky.”

“(K9 Stray Rescue League) gave me a place to go and think, reflect on my choices and make sure I was making good ones,” she explained.

It also gave her a way to have the four-legged companionship she craved.

“My parents never let me have a dog and I always wanted one,” Hubbard said. “I had 50 dogs when I went there.”

Hubbard noted K9SRL “tends to attract very passionate people” as volunteers and this has led to growth locally in the animal rescue movement.

“There are multiple dog rescues in the area, quite a few of which were started by people who originally started at K9,” she said.

Rather than viewing each other as competitors, Hubbard said they try to cooperate in order “to help (those) without voices.”

Hubbard encourages folks looking for a dog to consider adopting a rescue instead of buying one from a breeder.

To her, bringing home rescues is about giving “a second chance” to dogs who have ended up in shelters due to circumstances beyond their control.

“Most of the time, it’s not their fault,” Hubbard said.

With so many dogs in shelters due to pet overpopulation, she said “the need is there” for people to open their hearts and homes to animals who have nowhere else to go.

“Dogs aren’t bred to be in shelters. They’re bred to be man’s best friend,” Hubbard noted.

According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide. Approximately 670,000 shelter dogs are euthanized each year, while approximately 1.6 million are adopted annually.

“There’s so many dogs. Everybody’s perfect match is out there in a shelter somewhere,” Hubbard said.

She invited people to visit K9 Stray Rescue League’s kennel at 2120 Metamora Rd., just west of M-24.

“You’re free to walk around and get some puppy kisses,” Hubbard said.

The kennel, which has a 55-dog capacity, is open from 1-4 p.m. on Monday, Thursday and Sunday; 2-5 p.m. on Friday; and 12-4 p.m. Saturday. The facility is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

For more information about the organization, visit their website or call (248) 628-0435.