BAY MINETTE, Alabama — What began as tragic stories might just have happy endings for several dogs recently rescued in Baldwin County.One dog, rescued from an alleged fighting ring in Bay …
BAY MINETTE, Alabama — What began as tragic stories might just have happy endings for several dogs recently rescued in Baldwin County.
One dog, rescued from an alleged fighting ring in Bay Minette, has found a home near Silverhill, while others are being placed as far away as south Florida and Illinois.
Paula Dunbar loves animals. You could say she loves animals more than she loves many people.
“I have a sign on my front gate which reads ‘All critters welcome. Some people tolerated,’” jokes Dunbar, who lives just outside of Silverhill.
Over the years she has taken in a variety of animals, including several dogs, a few turtles and even a snake, which she let go in her back yard.
“I just can’t leave them to die when I know I can take care of them,” she said, “at least for a little while.”
While her sign says she does tolerate some people, she has a definite negative opinion when it comes to people who abuse animals.
“Sometimes I let my mouth run away with me,” she said. “Let’s just say I don’t have anything nice to say about those people.”
In January, when she heard where several dogs were rescued from a dog-fighting ring that was broken up in Bay Minette, she called to find out if there was anything she could do.
“I told them right up front that I (have more dogs than their minimum requirement),” she said, “but if there was anything I could do, I was willing.”
Also, she said, she is not in the habit of taking in pit bulls.
“I don’t have any problems with the breed as a whole,” she said. “It’s just as a general rule they are too strong for me to handle.”
Of the five dogs that were rescued, two had to be put down. Of the three remaining animals, two were pit bulls, but there was a third dog, a rather small, mixed-breed Terrier dog that would eventually find its way into Dunbar’s home and into her heart.
“I got the call a few days later,” she said, “’If you’re still interested, we have a dog still available.’”
As soon as she was able, she went and picked up the dog. One thing remained. She needed to name the dog.
“I told them that I thought about calling the dog ‘Lucky’ but I was told no. That the last few dogs they had named Lucky did not meet with very fortunate ends,” she said. “Then I noticed that the dog was always wagging its tail. ‘You’re just a happy thing aren’t you.’”
And there it was. So she promptly named the dog “Happy.”
Jermane Jackson, 25, of Bay Minette was arrested in January and charged with cruelty to animals. In June he was indicted by a grand jury on felony charges of attending dog fighting and cruelty to animals. He was released on a $100,000 bond and remains free while awaiting trial on the charges. According to reports, Bay Minette police are searching for four other suspects in connection with the case.
Happy is just one of many pets that Gina Jones, Bay Minette’s animal control officer, is helping to identify that need assistance.
Recently homes were found for several dogs through a pair of organizations, Save-a-Life in Orlando, and Almost Home Rescue in Illinois. The non-profit dog rescue programs help find placements for the animals in forever homes.
Jones sends photos and information such as weight, breed and color to the organizations and says that so far they have taken every dog she has requested.
“They let me know if they can pull them and when. They pay for all shots, neutering and heartworms test, if old enough.”
In recent weeks, Jones has travelled to Evergreen to meet with a transport van that picked up Alabama dogs from Bay Minette, Conecuh County, Clanton, Hoover and Decatur. All these animals are then transported to Illinois in the Save-a-life Rescue van.
APP Rescues which helps transport the animals to their pick-up location, when they board a plane bound for the Almost Home Rescue in Illinois. From there, volunteers work to help find permanent homes for the rescues.
Additional reporting by Tina Covington, community relations coordinator with the City of Bay Minette.