The conundrum of beagle love: bright loving eyes, silky tri-color fur, endless cuddling and a white-tipped, eternally wagging tail — all wrapped up with a deafening howl, the search for mischief and stubborn independence.
When the beagle’s nose is engaged, the dog will track a scent unabashedly. Beagles are notorious for leaving the hunting pack, or digging under a standard fence, or breaking through an electric fence if they find something interesting and worth pursuing.
Yes, the traits that make a beagle adorable often fail to outweigh the qualities that land dogs in a shelter. Without angels of rescue, a beagle in a shelter has a grim plight.
The Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland exists to save beagles in need of a get-out-of-jail-free card. Mara Melton founded the non-profit in 2001, selling her house to help fund it.
The first call to Melton’s shelter alerted her of eight beagles scheduled for euthanization. Melton wasn’t ready for business; she had no website and no advertising. Yet she came home with all eight dogs, one pregnant, which gave birth that evening, nearly doubling her pack of rescues from eight to 14 and jumpstarting Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland. Sixteen years later, Mara’s nonprofit is going strong.
Fostering the Pack
“We learn about the dogs, love the dogs and ensure they’ll go to good homes,” said Patti Jakusz, fosterer and board member. “Some fosterers also train the dogs and help them get adjusted.”
Many of the rescued dogs need training for domestic life. About half were hunting dogs, with little experience of a home shared by humans and pets. Others were surrendered by owners, while still others came into shelter by accident, perhaps led astray by an over-eager nose. “A beagle will follow its nose if owners don’t secure the yard well enough,” Jakusz warned.
Regardless of the dog, open admissions is the policy at Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland.
“We also take sick and older dogs that other rescues may pass over,” Jakusz said. Young, cute dogs are easier to rehome. But if an adopter is willing to take a dog that needs medications or treatments to stay healthy, Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland will help with expenses.
A Clean Bill of Health
Getting each dog from rescued to rehomed is a feat achieved step by laborious step. Each rescue team is responsible for picking up and transporting the beagles from a shelter, then getting each dog to its foster home. Fosterers work with local veterinarians to ensure the beagles are healthy and up to date on their vaccinations, too.
Most of these volunteers have other jobs. Yet they make the dog their first priority.
“Often,” Jakusz said, “fosters pay for vet bills and other needed items out of pocket.”
Young or old, every adopted dog is in peak shape before Beagle Rescue puts it up for adoption. Healthy dogs come relatively cheap to their new homes. But getting a dog healthy is anything but cheap.
“Any dog heartworm positive is going to cost $800 to $1,000,” Jakusz explained. “Many of the older hunting dogs need dental cleaning and extractions, procedures that can cost from $200 to $1,000. Even a perfectly healthy young dog can produce vet bills beyond the $300 we request as an adoption donation.”
Rescue organizations must also advertise the dogs up for adoption, keep up their websites, answer hundreds of emails and phone calls and ensure that adopters meet qualifications.
Fostering the Cause
Rescue organizations always need more fosterers and more donations.
It doesn’t take much beyond heart to be a qualified foster, according to Jakusz. If you have a good fence and other pets who are up to date on shots and heartworm prevention, you are well on the way to being accepted.
Rebecca Crumlish has fostered eight beagles.
“I had a beagle, and it passed away,” she explained, adding that her first foster was a “failed foster, meaning I fell in love and kept him.”
She continued fostering. “It’s wonderful when the dogs find new homes.”
That experience is part of the reason why most of Beagle Rescue’s 35 active foster homes have at least one dog, some several.
Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland raises money by hosting adoption events and other dog-friendly activities, Jakusz said. “But our donations are primarily from people.”
Learn more at http://beaglemaryland.org/. Or see for yourself Sunday, September 17 at the 11th Annual Beagle Bash, 11am-3pm at Countryside Kennel, Owings: 301-855-8303.
Rescued by a Rescue
Almost 1,800 beagles have been successfully rehomed through the work of this all-volunteer organization. Here’s how one of those rescues worked out.
Six years ago, I was searching, writes Lia Keston. I knew something was missing from my life, but I never would have guessed that the missing piece was a little beagle.
Jake was a stray rescued by Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland. Our connection was immediate, and we took him home.
One night last September, Jake woke me around 1am. He pawed me, then stood on my chest and whined until I finally got up. Only then did I see that my cell phone was vibrating, notifying us that a tornado was headed directly for our home.
We grabbed the dogs and ran to an inside room. Moments later, our house was torn to pieces. We were all unharmed. Jake saved our lives that night.
The phrase Who rescued who? has taken on a whole new meaning for us. I am eternally grateful to Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland for saving Jake and for bringing him into our lives. We couldn’t know it at the time, but Jake’s actions set off a chain of events that saved another very special soul.
Jake also brings joy and laughter and boundless love to our home. Not a day goes by when he doesn’t make us laugh, and that alone is a blessing.