How would you like to be a part of changing the world?
Okay, maybe that’s a bit grand. How about being a part of changing the world for dogs in the south?
Here’s your chance.
After traveling to nearly 50 shelters and rescues and dog pounds, photographer, Nancy Slattery and I created Who Will Let the Dogs Out (WaLDO, as we affectionately call it) to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs and the people who fight for them.
In Tennessee, where my dogs Fanny and Otis, and many of our foster dogs originate, life is not easy for an unwanted dog. And there are plenty of unwanted dogs.
In western Tennessee, specifically the land between Nashville and Memphis, it is especially bleak. Tennessee has a dog pound system which is just as bad as it sounds. Each county has its own ‘pound’. A pound can be an honest to goodness shelter with a real building and a trained Animal Control Officer, but it is more often simply a set of outdoor kennels or a concrete building with no HVAC, and a dog catcher, a police officer or a county employee, in charge.
The dog pounds are much the same as they’ve always been—places where dogs are held for their stray hold period and then killed by a local vet or the dog catcher’s gun. The better ones hold the dogs as long as there is room to hold them and then destroy them when more space is needed for incoming dogs.
The dogs get there in lots of ways. Some are dumped by their owners. Some are picked up as strays. Some are part of a legal dispute, victims of an eviction, or simply lost. In Tennessee, as in much of the south, dogs often live outdoors full-time. Combine that with the fact that spay and neuter services are not plentiful or a part of the culture, and you end up with way more dogs than homes for dogs. Suffice it to say, the pounds are full.
When my son Ian and I visited a few pounds in 2019, we met a woman named Amber, her husband and four kids who were voluntarily doing all the care for over fifty dogs for another homegrown rescue. When Nancy and I returned to Tennessee in March of 2020, Amber had started her own rescue and was traveling to the pounds every Friday to rescue dogs. She is often their only chance.
When visiting the dog pounds, I’ve often said to Nancy or anyone within earshot, “I wish there was some way to show people what we are seeing.” What we witness simply does not happen in much of the country where dogs are treated like family. To see an animal suffering on concrete, in too hot or cold or filthy conditions, forgotten by so many, awaiting likely death, is a shock.
I’ve often said, “It’s not that people don’t care, it’s that they don’t know.” I remain convinced that if they did, they would do something about the situation. We can’t fix something we don’t know is happening.
In my book, 100 Dogs & Counting, I mentioned that I dreamed of making a film to show people what was going on. I can write until my fingers seize up, but it doesn’t have the affect of seeing the situation in living color. Nancy and Ian both photographed the pounds we visited and their pictures are haunting. They take me right there. I can smell the filthy conditions, the desperation. I sometimes look at those pictures and wonder about the dogs we met.
I have a living example in my home. Fanny looks completely different than she did when we met her in the dog pound in Huntingdon, Tennessee where she was suffering in the 100 degree heat, starving, full of parasites and fleas, covered in her own filth.
Back to my original question – would you like to be part of changing the situation in Tennessee, and places like it?
After reading my book, another author, Melissa Armstrong, contacted me. She told me, “If you’re serious about making a film, I’m in. I want to help make it happen.”
Melissa lives in Tennessee and works in professional video production for a national sports association. Since that conversation last fall, we have been joined by two other talented people, also working in the industry. They have the education, knowledge, and years of experience in video production for networks and professional sports, and most importantly, they are committed to using their talents to save dogs. Together the three of them have created Farnival Films. They have partnered up with WaLDO to make this film happen and in so doing bring the change we want to see in this world.
I connected the team with Amber and her new rescue Halfway Home Animal Rescue (which has already saved over 2000 animals since starting in 2020).
Our goal is to produce a short documentary film and enter it in film festivals in the hopes of getting this story in front of people who can change the situation. To produce a quality film, we need resources. Melissa, Mason, and Jason are doing an incredible job, basically for free, but much that they are doing is not free. To date, along with minimum funds that Nancy and I have been able to give them from WaLDO, they have basically been footing the bill and donating their entire off season. To create a quality film takes professional tools, resources, a soundtrack, hours of travel, editing, and serious work.
Basically, what I’m telling you is we need money. A whole bunch of it if we want this film to be a reality. We’ve created a Kickstarter campaign to raise it. Kickstarter is a new thing for me, and a scary one. It’s an all of nothing venture. If we don’t reach our goal (20K), we don’t get any of the money pledged. We need more than 20K, but I’ve decided to go conservative in the hopes that people will go big and blow our goal away.
Here is where I need your help. Please check out our kickstarter, and if so moved, invest in our project (we have some great incentives to thank you for joining our effort). But more importantly, share the kickstarter anywhere and everywhere.
Here is the link to our Kickstarter (feel free to copy and share anywhere);
Once you click the link, you can donate by clicking on ‘back this project’.
Thanks for reading!
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com where you can also find more information on my book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, (Pegasus Books, July 2020) and my latest novel, Blind Turn (Black Rose Writing, Jan 2021)
If you’d like regular updates of all my foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips from OPH training, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.
And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit WhoWillLetTheDogsOut.org where you can follow the blog that shares stories or find the link to our podcast!
Our family fosters through the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes, a network of foster homes in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and south-central PA.
If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. It’s available anywhere books are sold.
I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact: email@example.com.