Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Saving Kevin Bacon and other rescue missions

Under new management, The PACK Sanctuary animal shelter is shifting its focus to adoption, education and collaboration with other animal organizations to create an ‘animal welfare community’

By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

As an expat, Walshe initially didn’t want a dog, but she now has three from the shelter — Alice, who came emaciated, furless and covered in ticks; Scooby, who lost his tail and front paw in a trap; and Eva, who is old, blind and deaf.

She believes that in addition to education, the key to lifting adoption or fostering levels is to have people spend time with the dogs.

“You meet them and fall in love,” she says. “Nearly everyone here has a dog from this place.”

“If we can get 20 dogs fostered, that frees up two of these whole gardens,” Gorski says. “We can rotate dogs and build more of a house shelter so they’re also accustomed to living indoors. Otherwise they become semi-feral out here.”

Walshe welcomes the new changes. Before the veterinarians started visiting in early October, a lot of time was spent making vet runs to Taipei, which is one-hour each way.

“There’s nothing worse than someone leaving for the vet and five minutes later you have another dog,” she says. “We’re learning a lot too. They’re showing us how to clean wounds and identify parasites with a microscope.”

A trainer also visits the facility to teach staff and volunteers how to walk and train dogs. Gorski says that helps dogs and volunteers bond as well.

“Some volunteers might say, ‘I want to adopt this dog I’m really connecting with,’” Gorski says.

GOTTA CUT LOOSE

TSPCA director Connie Chiang (姜怡如) says they were not in contact with PACK before Gorski reached out a few months ago. Since TSPCA doesn’t have a shelter, they decided to start with joint rescues, with TSPCA sponsoring the animal and PACK housing it. This resulted in the case of Kevin Bacon, who was kept in a cage his whole life for the sole purpose of eating kitchen scraps since the garbage truck didn’t come by that address.

“Prior to this, we went online to look for fosters,” she says. “And it’s hard to find a pig sanctuary. We called some pig farms and they were all full.”

Chiang adds that they hope to do some joint educational campaigns as well.

Gorski and Claire Chen (陳其兒), who is in charge of education, outreach and events, have been making presentations about adopting and puppy mills at various schools and organizations. They hope that the students can visit PACK as volunteers and also help them spread the message to other students.

But reaching out to other organizations isn’t always as easy as it seems. Chen says she was turned down by a rescue animal halfway house, who told them they were already working with another group and “didn’t need this kind of collaboration.”

“I was kind of shocked,” she says. “You’re telling me that you don’t need support or even want to know what we’re trying to do?”

Last month’s endeavor to two Taichung shelters was more successful, to which PACK donated its excess towels.

“We share the same goals, but everyone is working on their own and that’s not enough,” Chen says. “We can share resources. We can share information. We need that right now in Taiwan.”

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