Victoria County Shelter Pets group saving dogs' lives
Kim Cole has Faith in her heart.
And Faith, the 68-pound, year-old American bulldog adopted from Victoria Animal Control, may have found a permanent home there.
Cole has fostered the dog for four months as part of the Shelter Pets of Victoria County group she founded in June, but Faith may not have to look far for a forever home.
"Faith's my heart child," Cole said. "I don't know that she's going anywhere. I've put my heart and soul into her."
Cole and other group members have put great effort into Shelter Pets.
Cole started the group after posting photographs of dogs in Victoria shelters to Facebook pages of animal advocacy groups and encouraging others to adopt rather than buying dogs from breeders.
"I got some negative feedback from some who didn't like everything I was posting, so I started my own group and my own page," Cole said. "I can put what I want on there."
She and other members post photos of dogs available for adoption at the animal shelter as well as missing and found dogs.
Since its beginning in June, Shelter Pets now has about 900 members.
"There is a core group of members, just like in any organization, that is extremely active," Cole said.
"I want to emphasize it's not just me doing this. I'm amazed at the amount of people who have such a love for animals."
Shelter Pet members not only foster dogs, but group members also post photographs to Facebook on other animal advocacy groups' pages, their personal pages and veterinarians' pages, Cole said.
Others donate monetarily for vet care and other needs.
Cole estimates Shelter Pets' efforts have have kept about 90 dogs from being euthanized since June.
Group member Cindy Schnieder, a long-time pet advocate who is also a member of Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS) and Victoria TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release), said Shelter Pets is doing great work.
"Shelter Pets has done an outstanding job finding homes for dogs and puppies that ended up at animal control," she said.
"They have also done an outstanding job reuniting dogs and puppies with their owners - both lost dogs and found dogs - putting them back with their families.
"They are working with animal control to find homes for all the animals, and that is a wonderful thing. Outstanding job being done by Shelter Pets and animal control," said Schneider.
"I am very proud of them and am glad to be a member of this group. They have made a huge difference in a lot of pets' and owners' lives."
Cole also acknowledged the work of group members.
"We have one member who is fostering 18 dogs right now," Cole said, pointing out she has two shelter dogs to go along with the three she already owned.
After the first of the year, Cole hopes to continue getting the group better organized with a board of directors, bylaws and guidelines and apply for nonprofit status.
Cole's main message is for people interested in a new pet to first check out what animals are available for adoption at the Victoria Animal Shelter.
"They are all awesome out there," Cole said of the Victoria Animal Control staff.
"They care about the animals. They do a job that not many of us could do.
"Take the time to look and see what's out there," she said. "Adopt; don't shop."
As for Faith, Cole said, "She's my girl. I love her. I'm going to have a hard time letting her go."