NORTHPORT, Maine — When Danielle Blake’s friend-of-a-friend sent her a link on Facebook to a list of animals in North Carolina that showed several photos of them and the date the shelter planned to euthanize them, Blake decided to do something about it. To start, she adopted one dog and one cat last month. Then three more this month.
She has found permanent homes for all but one dog so far.
Now, Blake logs onto Facebook each day and peruses the dogs in the Columbus County Animal Control shelter in North Carolina. The Facebook page was created by a group of animal lovers who wanted to save the dogs.
The pictures are of dogs in dark, cement rooms, and the flash from the camera makes many of them look ghostly. She would take in dogs from Maine, Blake said, but “these ones are being killed. There are not a lot of kill shelters in Maine.”
Blake’s husband, Justin, owns and operates Blake Veterinary Hospital in Northport, which also supports Maine Coast Animal Rescue, a nonprofit animal shelter that shares space with the hospital.
Before Blake picks a dog and makes arrangements for it to be shipped to the Northport animal shelter, she tries to find potential owners. Last week, Jane Awbrey of Orland was matched with a dog she picked out five days earlier from the Facebook page. The dog, named Skye, is a redbone coonhound.
Awbrey thought about adopting a dog and mentioned her plans one day when she brought her cat — whose tail had been injured — to the veterinary hospital. The staff put her in touch with Blake.
“The next day at about noon I got a call [from Maine Coast Animal Rescue] and they said, ‘We have five more to pick from. At 5 o’clock they will be euthanized,’” Awbrey said. She rushed home to her computer from a trip to Bangor and picked her new dog.
“I don’t know what I could say other than she is perfect,” Awbrey said Tuesday. “She is the nicest dog. I can’t imagine anyone would kill her.”
Now Awbrey and Skye go for long walks around town — something the asthmatic woman had been trying to motivate herself to do for a while.
“I have asthma. She has kind of saved [my life] too. I go out for walks every day. She is helping me keep my lung function up,” Awbrey said, getting a bit winded as she spoke. “I couldn’t motivate myself to walk every day, but now I have to. She is doing me an incredible favor. She will lengthen my life and I lengthened hers.”
Awbrey said she particularly liked that she was able to tell Blake what she wanted — a beagle-type dog — and then days later, Skye arrived.
When Blake doesn’t have people lined up to take a specific dog, she tries to see which dogs have the least chance of getting adopted without her help. She forgoes the smaller dogs, puppies and animals that get the most Facebook comments.
The dog she has remaining from the North Carolina shelter is a pit bull mix named Baxter.
“I go for the underdog dogs,” she said as she held Taco, a white Chihuahua from the Northport shelter. Taco wears a tie-dyed T-shirt with a peace sign. Its hem hits right above her diaper and her paralyzed back legs.
Blake hopes to get more people to ask for the dogs that wait on doggy death row, each with a date above its head.
“If I had people asking, next time I could get five dogs instead of three,” Blake said.
A staffer at the North Carolina shelter said Tuesday that since Friends of the Animals of Columbus County Animal Control started posting the pictures and expected euthanization dates, “we have not put down any in the shelter.” It has been two months.
“Thanks to the website a lot of our animals are getting adopted,” said shelter employee Robin Mercer.
Blake intends to keep adopting from the shelter. She said the veterinary hospital intends to build a kennel by next spring, which will allow them to keep the adoptable dogs there, instead of housing them at foster homes until permanent homes can be found.
For information, e-mail Danielle Blake at Danielle52676@hotmail.com.