“Almost-Gone” Dogs Ride Away in Rescue Vans


Almost is such an ordinary word. We use it every day to describe near-misses like, “I was almost late for work today” or “I’m almost finished packing.” But the word takes on a far deeper meaning for the dogs who ride away in the back of a van after they were almost put to their end in a gas chamber.

“When you walk into the rabies control center you’ll hear a barkinglike you’ve never heard before,” explains Chris McLaughlin, Founder of Animal Rescue Front who rescued 197 of those dogs from an animal control center inSouth Western Louisiana last year. “It’s not an ‘I’m happy to see you bark.’It’s not an ‘Are we going for a walk?’ kindof bark.Instead what you’ll hear is an ‘I’m scared to death’kind of bark.”

Though I am unable to divulge the precise location of this facility for fear that it might jeopardize the delicately negotiated permission to rescue dogs there, I can tell you that it’s about as bad as it gets.

“The dogs have nothing but concrete floor,” Chris explains. “There are no dog beds, no blankets, no toys. It’s cold in there and the floors are often wet. You’d really have to see it yourself to fully appreciate the depth of the dog’s condition.”

In 2013, astate law banning the use of the gas chamber goes into effect in Louisiana, but until then, a mad dash is on every time the phone rings.

“A call comes in that the facility is full and the chamber is about to be used,” Chris explains.”Then it’s a drop-everything, we’ve gotta roll situation as the rescue vans rush over to pull the dogs who are in line for death.”

The Heart of the Matter: Money for Medicine

Chris’ organization moves the dogs up North to rescue groups, shelters and foster homes. This weekend, in fact,31 dogs will be arriving in New Hampshire to begin their wait for adoptive families.Butof greater concern are the ones who couldn’t ride along because they’re infected with heartworm.

“It’s an epidemic here,” Chris explains. “Heartworm is rampantin the South and sadly, the treatment is very, very hard on the dogs’bodies. It’s essentially a poison that is given by injection in order to destroy the worms.But you have to be so careful with the dogs while they’re under treatment because their hearts are in such a fragile state and they aren’t allowed to run or get too excited. We have to keep them still for 90 days or more. And even though we’re sometimes forced to board them at $8 aday when we run out of foster homes, we can’t bring them North until they’re completely well again.”

What Waits for these Almost-Gone Dogs

My own almost-gone dog Cricketwas rescued from that very animal control facility just hours before she would have met her end in a manner I dare not contemplate.She’s about 10 months old now and we’re still seeing signs of her early hardship. It’s only been a few weeks since she stopped falling over on the floor every time someone approached her. She still makes pitiful sounds in her sleep andviews any cage with great suspicion. But today her life is as charmed as can be and before she goes for her daily walk in the woods, she likes to warm up with a littlewrestling match with her favorite friend Brambleberry, our orange tabby.

That’s the kind of life we want for all the dogs and my charity, the Harmony Fund, is working with Animal Rescue Front to gather enough funds to treat the dogs who have heartworm and to secure transportation to move at least 300 in the coming months. We’re in it together and not a day goes by when I don’t imagine what might transpire if we can’t get enough foster homes or medicines to treat the heartworm.

“I dream that one day animals won’t die from carbon monoxide,” Chris says wishfully. “I dream that they’ll all have warm homes where they are loved and pampered – where they all sleep on the bed. Idream that we have thousands of people who send us $10 every month so we can more easily save the thousands of animals down South who need us. I dream we’ll have our own van so we don’t have to worry when Enterprise doesn’t honor our reservation just two days before we are to drive 20 animals 1,600 miles to safety. I dream that we can save more because they are all worth saving, every single one of them.”

Here’s what you can do:

  • $8 boards one dog for a day while we wait for a foster home
  • $13 buys an elevated dog bed to allow the dogs to get off the concrete floor
  • $25 provides food for a dog in their foster home
  • $70 goes toward helping us purchase a van to do year-round rescues
  • $125 pays for complete veterinary care including spay/neuter for an almost-gone dog
  • $500 supports heartworm treatment for three elderly dogs who deserve love in their twilight years
  • $1,800 completely covers the cost of one van load of 15- 18 dogson their 1,600 mile journey

Please visit our website to see more of Animal Rescue Front’s dog rescue efforts or to make a donation.


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Dog Dumped on Barren Mountaintop Gets Rescued by Vacationers


Photo Credit: Nikhil Gangavane | Dreamstime.com


Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

This is such a sad story, A big thank you to the rescuers and shelter shops for all their help.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper3 years ago


John B.
John B3 years ago

Thanks Laura for sharing the story.

Ashley Pettigrass

Tomorrow is pay day, I think I'll donate to these guys. Keep up the good work!!!

Nicole Heindryckx

- 2 / Neighbors, friends and family also should be held accountable when clearly obvious and visible neglect is not reported to the authorities.

Of course I am sure that more or better actions can be taken to prevent massive neglect and abuse of poor animals kept as pets. But may be one of such regulations would already have a big impact and first of all reduce the number of pet animals because there are far too much dogs and cats now. And as long as most pet owners only want to have a cute puppy, the situation will never change. May be this is not a very good comparison, but also childless parents only want to ADOPT and are not interested in foster parenting, and moreover they are only interested in BABIES. Children of a certain age are not on the list and often " travel " to various foster parents or homes during the most important years of their live.

Nicole Heindryckx

I have been thinking about possible solution/s to diminish the number of abandoned / homeless / neglected or abused pets :
- Not anyone should be allowed to become a breeder. Sufficient knowledge of their animals should be proven by a certificate issued by US government before commencing this buz. Now everybody can do this, without any knowledge, without any insight, without any supervision. Now for the so called bread breeders, it is only the money that counts. They generally have dozens of different dogs / cats. On the contrary a serious breeder limits his occupation to 2 or 3 species.
- Even recognized breeders should regularly be controlled by an official vet, or organisation
- All pets should be sterilized before going to their first owner. At any time, by some negligence or in a moment of insufficient attention, your pet is gone, walking the streets, and with a bit of "luck" your female dog comes home pregnant. My last dog puppy was such an "accident". It was a litter - luckily- of only 3 puppies and all were placed with real dog lovers.
- more and severe punishments (jail / fines etc..) for each owner neglecting his or her pet/s.
- People who have committed such "crime" more than once, should by legal issues, be prevented from having any pet/s in the future.
- Pet owners who do not have regular check-ups / vaccinations of their pets should be reported by the vet to the local authorities thereby preventing neglect for years and years.
- neighbors,

Nicole Heindryckx

This is a problem that has always existed and will never disappear. On the contrary. With the economical crisis, only a happy few will not suffer from this crisis, created by the same happy few. The average laborer, employee daily see their bills going up, and their income remaining the same. Or even worse disappear because lots of factories / shops etc. are closed on a daily basis. The first victims are the pets. Vet consults and drugs for sick pets will reduce drastically. Next thing is that good meals with necessary vitamins and minerals will be substituted by the cheapest junk. And so we slowly progress to a total lack of sufficient care for our beloved friends. Of course there always will be heartless people who don't give a sh.. about their animals. But more and more people can not afford it any longer. I always have had dogs (now no more because of health issues preventing me from daily walks) and all were "saved". I have great appreciation for the volunteers spending lots of their free time to work in shelters, so that a lot of these poor animals are being taken care of, and subsequently have the possibility of being adopted.

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G3 years ago

so sad !

Alexander P.
Alexander P3 years ago

Stories like this make me wish I could win the lottery. Not because I need it for myself, but because I could help so much more than I can now. It's frustrating to see shelters and rescue organizations struggle financially to help these poor animals.

rita uljee
rita u3 years ago

and there is me thinking we are civilised , looking at this article i`m afraid we are far from it .