HELPING HANDS FOR HOUNDS: Rescue seeks volunteers as city builds new pound

Christi Martin  with Roxy’s Rainbow Rescue walks her dog and talks to a pet owner at the Hamburg Harvest Fest on Nov. 13. The Rescue contracts with the City of Hamburg to handle stray animals, and will operate the new pound that the city is building. (AMANDA ELLIS/News Observer)

The temporary residents of the Hamburg City Pound are going to be getting some new digs soon.

The City of Hamburg is building a new pound facility at the city’s settlement pond. The new pound will give the animals housed there more room and will relocate them to an area where they will be less likely to bother residents with noise.

The move was prompted in part by the cave-in of the roof at the current pound. 

Hamburg Mayor David Streeter unloaded lumber at the new pound site last week as he gave the tentative date for completion as Nov. 12. 

“They are currently making the doors for the enclosures, but we have all the other materials ready to go,” Streeter said. 

Streeter said the facility is positioned facing south to provide good shelter for the animals while also receiving the most optimal wind conditions to provide the dogs with fresh air, and that the dogs will enjoy being walked on the secluded 40-acre parcel where the pound is being constructed. 

Streeter also said that electronic gate locks are being installed at the pound site soon to provide the handlers with additional peace of mind knowing the animals are safe. 

The handlers in question are Roxy’s Rainbow Rescue, an animal rescue organization in Hamburg that Christi and her husband Steven Martin   operate with the help of Martin’s mother, Chrystal Flick; Martin’s sisters; their husbands; and several animal foster families in the area. Roxy was the name of the very first dog Martin rescued and she decided it would be a fitting name for her organization. 

Martin moved to Ashley County from California approximately three years ago. She was surprised to see the abundance of stray dogs roaming around which is a sight you just don’t see where she is from. Like many other states, California has strict laws regarding pets and their care. Animals are required to be licensed, have their rabies vaccinations, and anyone who abandons or mistreats their pets faces stiff monetary and judicial penalties that can include incarceration. 

Martin said those laws are strictly enforced. 

“If you see a dog on the street there, you know someone is actively looking for it,” Martin said. “There isn’t the problem of homeless animals that we see here.”

Martin started rescuing dogs in the area and two years later incorporated her organization. 

Since then, the city of Hamburg has contracted with Martin to take care of the dogs at the city pound. The $500 per month contract is to cover the necessary food, medicines, supplies, etc. that the animals require, and with twenty-two animals currently in her care, those costs are substantial. 

Martin is always on call regarding the animals she rescues, but her day job prevents her from being able to immediately address any pick up requests during those hours. 

“I get calls during the day about strays, and unfortunately I can’t drop everything and go take care of the issue.” Martin said, “Lots of people that call think that this is my job, but the fact is, I’m doing this in addition to my regular day job.” 

This means that Martin is constantly busy, caring for the sick, injured and healthy animals under her watch as well as performing all the normal everyday tasks of life. She said her motivation for the extensive effort she puts forth is that she loves animals. She also believes that if she has a problem with something, she should take action. 

“I can’t complain about an issue I’m not doing something about,” she said. 

Martin explained that people could always help by donating their time or their money. She is responsible for the welfare of the animals from the time she picks them up, all the way through their transport to another organization that places them in homes. 

That kind of dedicated care comes with a hefty price tag, and community help is essential for volunteer organizations such as hers, not only ensure the animals’ needs are met, but to also help the rescue operate efficiently and smoothly.

Martin often drives the transport vehicle carrying the dogs and sometimes pairs with other organizations such as Louisiana-based Rescue Bird to make her own trips more cost-effective. She transports an average of eight rescued animals per month, but said that a nursing mother and her pups are counted as one rather than per individual animal. 

Martin currently has a group of four dogs right now who will be transported the third week of November, and that number will grow as the animals are given shots and the other requirements for their travel. While some transport trips are for just a few dogs, there are times when groups as large as 20 are relocated to northern states where the animals find their forever homes. 

The groups that place the dogs are located in the northern states that are better equipped to handle the dogs’ needs because their states provide better funding opportunities for organizations like Martin’s. 

“They have the ability to fund the spaying and neutering of the animals as well,” she said. 

The additional funding these states receive is why she doesn’t require the animals are in perfect health before she takes them on their road trip. 

“Really our best bet is to get these animals to those states that have the ability to fund the vet bills through government programs,” Martin said. 

Until more funding is available locally, Martin said she feels this is the best option for all involved. 

Before the animals in her care leave, however, Martin ensures that they receive their vaccinations that their heartworm tests to show they are negative, and she addresses any other immediate medical concerns each animal might be facing. 

Andrea Allbritton is the veterinarian at Crossroads Veterinary Clinic in Lake Village and assists Martin in her efforts to provide medical care to the animals. 

“Vaccinations are required by law for every animal that is leaving the state,” Martin said. 

Vaccinations are a crucial part of pet ownership and can prevent many conditions that are not only painful or stressful for the animal, but put pressure on an owner’s pocketbook as well. Martin said she wants to stress the fact that Parvo vaccines are available for fewer than $10 without a prescription from local farm supply stores, and that there are simple and inexpensive medications accessible for mange as well. 

These are two common reasons puppies get dumped either on the side of the road or at shelters such as hers and neighboring Crossett’s pound. 

“We have a big problem with Parvo here, and it has created issues with some of my fosters who now can only take in adult dogs because the Parvo was spread to their properties,” Martin said. 

Martin allows local adoptions on occasion, but requires an adoption fee that covers the cost of spaying or neutering the animal as the one way she can ensure that the animal she adopts out does not have litters that could eventually end up in her hands. 

“Just one breeding pair of dogs can become an extended family of 12,000 in just five years,” Martin said. “With cats, it’s 11,000 in the same amount of time.” 

Martin does not want to leave out the feline population and hopes to eventually have the resources to initiate a trap-neuter-release program for feral and stray cats in the area. Similar programs are used in many places, and while there are some critics of the practice it is proven to reduce cat populations when implemented properly. Alley Cat Allies, an animal welfare organization that endorses the program, says on its Website that, “TNR improves the lives of cats, addresses community concerns, reduces complaints about cats, and stops the breeding cycle.”  

Those who would like to donate to Roxy’s Rainbow Rescue or are interested in adopting a pet, can contact Martin on her organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/roxysrainbowrescue

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