One by one, 28 dogs were tagged with a number Saturday and loaded into cages in two vans taking them to Florida.
Volunteers, many wearing Poodle and Pooch Rescue T-shirts, played with the dogs waiting their turns, some wide-eyed and shivering apprehensively.
Twenty-one of the dogs had come to the Dogwood Spay and Neuter Clinic from Richmond County Animal Services to be spayed or neutered, then be taken to new homes in Florida. Seven dogs came from other sources.
“This is the first time they’ve come here because there are so many,” said Monika Mobley, a volunteer with the Orlando-based rescue group who recently moved to Girard, Ga., from Waynesboro.
About once a month for the past year, Mobley has driven dogs to members of the group in Florida to be put up for adoption. She learned about the group after rescuing several poodles from a hoarder.
Last week, she took six more dogs from the shelter, two of which were very sick.
“Rebecca (Lynch) called and said these dogs we got out of the shelter are in horrible condition,” Mobley said.
Lynch, the president of Poodle and Pooch’s board of directors, said two dogs are still with the veterinarian and she isn’t sure they will survive. One had just received a blood transfusion, and the other tested positive for heartworms.
“With some of the overcrowding and conditions at the shelter, we just made the decision to come down and help as many as we can,” she said.
It is the largest rescue the group has made, and they hope to rescue more in the future.
Dog Networking Agents of Georgia, a volunteer organization, helped coordinate Saturday’s rescue. Founder Ali Williams said she spends a lot of time coordinating spay and neuter appointments and networking to get animals picked up by rescue organizations in other states.
“If we weren’t doing this right now, we would be able to maybe get a few out a week, but by working with rescues in different places we could get 20 or 30 out at a time,” she said.
Williams and Mobley worked together to choose the dogs that would be taken in by Poodle and Pooch.
After the roughly seven-hour drive to Orlando, the dogs were taken to the vet to be cleaned and given full examinations. They’ll stay there until the vet says they’re healthy enough to be adopted, Lynch said.
“Right now we’re working on (getting) foster homes because this is a lot of dogs,” she said.
Poodle and Pooch is an all-volunteer organization with no shelter, and members foster pets in their homes.
Eighteen of the dogs are already listed on the rescue’s Web site, poodleandpoochrescue.org. Donors are invited to sponsor and name a dog for a $150 donation, which covers vet bills, grooming fees and animal control.
“(Sponsors) follow them along their journey,” Lynch said. “We keep them updated all the way to their adoption, and then we send them their adoption photos.”