Tennessee was the latest stop on our Adventure Of A Lifetime. Of course, the many people and animals who have lost their lives in the past few weeks due to the recent fires are weighing heavily on our minds. But we also saw the beauty still much alive in Tennessee and know that in time, all of Tennessee’s beauty will shine again.
However, we visited a rescue in another part of Tennessee who also needed some help, recognition and praise for their efforts for animals in their part of the state, and whose volunteers stated they even went to help the fire ravaged areas. Animal rescue is surely a tight family.
We introduce Dixie Pet Underground Railroad in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Change often starts with someone making a stand. That “someone” in Cleveland, Tennessee was a group of like-minded animal rescuers who decided what was happening in their community to animals was just not right. And they did something…together.
Meet Beth Foster from Dixie Pet Underground Railroad.
As soon as we met Beth, we saw her happy and welcoming personality. She immediately put us at ease, readily talking about her animals, her rescue and how she started on this path to saving lives here. With a full-time job and many animals of her own, this is what makes Beth who she is. And we loved her.
According to their website, Beth started Dixie Pet Underground Railroad when she moved to Cleveland, Tennessee.
“Three 9-month-old feral puppies began the Dixie Pet Underground Railroad. When Beth Foster was faced with the prospect of finding homes for three feral puppies — Jackie, Zorra and Freckles — she was at a loss. There were 7,000 perfectly adoptable dogs and cats being killed in her county’s animal shelter — not to mention the thousands and thousands of others being killed at other shelters in the area.”
But what would Beth do after realizing this?
“Beth was introduced to Cindy Rhoda of Pooches on the Move. Zorra and Freckles quickly found homes in the northeast (Jackie stayed with Beth) and the Dixie Pet Underground Railroad had begun. In the ensuing months, Beth and Betti Gravelle, executive director of Dixie Dogs & Cats, emptied Cleveland Animal Control of all its dogs and cats twice, sending the pets to forever homes in the northeast and the Dixie Pet Underground Railroad really began to move.”
Beth and a group of other animal advocates emptied the county’s shelter! Twice. I asked Beth what made her do that! She stated that it was a common practice in this area to “clear out” the local shelter of animals the day before Thanksgiving and residents called it the “Thanksgiving Slaughter”. She couldn’t stand for this. How was she to only rescue one, or a few, after stepping foot in this shelter and seeing all the faces of homeless animals? She adopted over 40 animals and found homes…for them all with the help of the community. She knew her calling. And it was to save lives. But she couldn’t do it alone.
Meet Betti Gravelle of Dixie Day Spay, which is where we conducted our interview and video as Dixie Pet Underground is a foster based rescue without a facility and also, they work very closely with Dixie Day Spay as you will see! We were able to see this clinic in action with passionate people caring for the animals here in so many ways.
Dixie Day Spay was started in order to provide low cost spay and neuter services to the community in 2009.
Dixie Day Spay began as a dream for a small group of friends who believed their animals deserved better. As their website states, “it is not acceptable for them to die by the thousands at Animal Control due to the limited resources of their owners. It is the Dixie Day Spay team’s goal to make spay/neuter surgery affordable for everyone.”
And because they are here, rescue organizations like Dixie Pet Underground Railroad can save more lives with their help and assistance. What a perfect combination.
Pet overpopulation is a real and crucial problem, but often people cannot afford to “fix” their pets and the cycle continues over and over again with unwanted animals. Dixie Day Spay is the first step in a solution to the animal rescue world of homeless animals and we were just in awe of their success and kindness.
They turn no one away and have altered over 30,000 pets since they opened. Their mission is to “eliminate the killing of healthy and treatable companion animals by providing spay/neuter surgery that is affordable for all pet guardians regardless of their resources. Educate pet guardians on the importance of spay/neuter surgery. Partner with Animal Control by taking animals off death row and into foster homes until they are adopted.” And by working with Beth at Dixie Pet Underground Railroad, they are doing this in a huge way. What teamwork this community has for its animals.
In the our latest episode of Stop Hounding Me, you will meet two beautiful and special adoptables, Bogel and Sarah. Bogel is an approximately seven year old boy who loves life.
Although he is diabetic with very limited eyesight, he lives a wonderful and full life as long as he gets his daily insulin shots. Beth said her dream would be for Bogel to find his forever home with a child who was also diabetic, and they could help each other, but he would also make anyone a great forever furkid. Beth has a very big spot in her heart for Bogel who showed up at her door and collapsed after being thrown out to die. Bogel has made huge strides in gaining weight, good health and is now ready for a forever home!
You will also be introduced to Sarah who is blind. Sarah is a loving, sweet girl who deserves to live in a home that appreciates her and just gets along with everyone. What a love!
So without further adieu, we bring you Stop Hounding Me in Tennessee.
As you can see, Dixie Pet Underground and Dixie Day Spay has made a huge difference for animals in their community of Cleveland, Tennessee. But they know that they have much more work to do. As Beth and Bettie mentioned to us, their dream would be for their efforts not be needed any longer and for all the animals to have a home.
Beth and Bettie may have brought about change in Cleveland, Tennessee. But it will only be with the community’s continued support that this change will last. Beth told us how cooperative animal control now is with the animal rescue efforts, but that it took years for many in this area to “get on board”. We absolutely are confident that with Dixie Pet Underground Railroad and Dixie Day Spay along with other groups in the area including Cleveland For A No Kill City, that the change WILL last. Educating the community on the desperate need to spay and neuter while providing them a way to do so is loving. Necessary. And an example for every community in this country.
Beth recommends for anyone in the Cleveland, Tennessee to visit the local animal control FIRST if they are planning to adopt. Why? They are kept a very limited time until they are killed. If an animal has found their way to Dixie Pet Underground Railroad, they are safe with fosters. Saying that, locally, volunteers and fosters are extremely needed in order to keep saving lives. And if you are not in the local area, it may be possible as well to adopt from this awesome rescue! Visit their website for transportation details.
As well, donations, pet food and pet supplies are needed greatly. If you find it in your heart to support a town in Tennessee that surely cares for its animals, click on the links below to find out how you can help today. Their most desperate need is donations, fosters and volunteers!
As we said, it takes someone to start change for animals in their community. Does YOUR community need YOU to start that change? Let Beth Foster of Dixie Pet Underground Railroad inspire you to be that change.
The animals where you live need you to stand up if something isn’t right. Let your voice be heard, don’t give up and always “Make Rescues The Breed Of Choice”.
Dixie Pet Underground Railroad
315 Homestead St., Cleveland, TN 37323