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Muddy Paws Rescue is paving the way for happy tails and forever homes

Muddy Paws Rescue mobile at their adoption event in the Flatiron district. The rescue holds weekly adoption events on Saturdays, alternating between Union Square and the Flatiron district. JENNA ZAZA/THE STATESMAN

The still air hangs thick with the scent of unwashed fur and mingling nerves. A symphony of barks and whimpers fill the space, punctuated by the rhythmic thuds of anxious paws pacing concrete floors. This isn’t a scene from a chaotic puppy play date, but rather the stark reality of countless animal shelters across the country struggling under the weight of a significant problem: overcrowding.

New York City’s shelters are no exception. In the past year, municipal shelters’ animal population has exploded to the point where animals go weeks or months without being adopted. The shelters’ contracts with the city require them to take in every animal on the street. With extreme overpopulation, they rely on non-profit animal welfare organizations to help these furry companions find their forever homes; that’s where Muddy Paws Rescue comes in.

“We pull dogs out of shelters that are often underfunded [and] underserved, yet over-utilized and overcrowded,” Mallory Kerley, Muddy Paws Rescue’s marketing director, said in an interview with The Statesman. “They are doing the best they can, but they  need help placing these dogs.”

Muddy Paws Rescue is a foster-based dog rescue, which means the organization does not rescue dogs from the streets, nor have a consolidated location like a Manhattan building to cage them. Every dog Muddy Paws Rescue acquires through their partnerships with New York’s Animal Care Centers and the Kentucky shelter Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society is directly matched with a foster home that will best aid the animal. Compared to New York City, with over 8.4 million residents, Bowling Green’s rural and desolate population of about 73,000 residents face exacerbated issues of overcrowded shelters. 

“The amount of dogs Bowling Green/Warren County takes in is higher than the adoption rate because the overall population is extremely low compared to here,” Kerley said. “There are more homes and people in New York City that are looking to adopt.”

After a furry companion is placed in a foster home, Muddy Paws Rescue monitors their behavior, analyzes their needs and determines whether the foster home is the right fit; this process is called the decompression period. For dogs who cannot adjust to the city’s noisy, urban environment, Muddy Paws Rescue collaborates with fosters who live in more suburban areas. 

Muddy Paws Rescue aims to save as many dogs as possible by streamlining the foster and adoption process to be “simple, positive, stress-free and accessible.”

To become a Muddy Paws Rescue foster, one has to undergo a registration and orientation process that typically takes five to seven business days and be ready to commit to caring for a dog for at least three weeks or until adoption. Based on the application responses, Muddy Paws Rescue then matches a dog to a foster home. While fostering, the carer is required to maintain and cooperate with Muddy Paws Rescue officials’ line of communication. This is to ensure that the dogs are not moving excessively between different environments and are being properly cared for. 

Other foster-based rescues often have application processes that take longer to authorize and typically require home visits, which complicates the approval rates of applicants.

“The more time other rescue organizations take on deciding who’s worthy of adopting a dog and denying [applicants] based on frivolous terms such as a lack of a yard, even though they live in the city where that’s unrealistic for most, they spend less time placing dogs in homes,” Kerley said. 

Every Saturday, the dog-loving community can interact and engage with a small selection of the dogs available for adoption through Muddy Paws Rescue’s adoption events, typically held at the PetSmart in Flatiron, N.Y.

“This is really the only time potential adopters can see and play with the dogs since they are in foster [home]s,” Kerley said. “We are very conscious of where we hold them and who engages with them.”

Since Muddy Paws Rescue’s formation in early 2016, they have saved more than 7,600 dogs with placements in at least 1,500 foster homes. However, the impacts of Muddy Paws Rescue’s efforts don’t stop when a foster dog is adopted. Through partnerships with over 10 leading animal care companies, such as Chewy and Spot & Tango, they provide fosters and adopters with discounted pet care services and necessities. The rescue’s Pack Perks program offers discounts from 15-50% off on various essentials, such as training sessions, human-grade fresh dog food, grooming services and veterinary care. 

“When companies reach out to us, we always ensure the product they are offering is safe and that any relationship with them must benefit our Muddy Paws dogs,” Kerley said. “They cannot just pay us to endorse them.”

One of Muddy Paws Rescue’s most consistent challenges is finding fosters, hindering the number of dogs they can rescue. Still, Muddy Paws Rescue aims to be responsible by never taking in more dogs than they have available fosters and empowering the dog-loving community through open, educational conversations. 

“Everyone looking to own a dog should support responsible rescue[s],” Kerley said. “They have all types of dogs one is looking for, they just have to keep an eye out, and please don’t shop.”

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About the Contributor
Jenna Zaza, Arts & Culture Editor
Jenna Zaza is The Statesman's Arts and Culture Editor. She is a second-year journalism major with a minor in Korean studies and on the fast-track MBA program. When she is not writing, she is probably reading a book with a cup of coffee in hand.
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