Spring River Animal Rescue (SPARE) is a local non-profit organization that includes a group of foster homes in which strays are housed until new homes can be located for the pets.
Through in-kind donations and monetary support from the community, the animals receive food and medical treatment when they are placed in foster homes, so when they are finally adopted, the animals have a clean bill of health.
They are also spayed or nuetered, if they are old enough.
SPARE is a group of volunteers passionate about taking care of and saving the lives of abandoned, unwanted, homeless, injured and abused animals.
The organization was established in 2008 to raise funds to help meet the overwhelming needs of animals in the area.
In 2010, it received non-profit status and has been working with the community, separate from the Cherokee Village Animal Control.
Some who adopt through SPARE send updates on their pets' new lives.
One such letter was recently received by Helga Lange, President of SPARE, detailing the impact pets have on the lives of their owners, as well as the importance of adoption.
Lange said the organization adopted a Wolfhound mix to a family in New Hampshire. Manny, a neutered male, was a bit rambunctious during his adolescence, when he first went to live with his new family.
The letter from adopter Kelly Bibeau reads:
"This has truly been a year of life-changing events. Earlier this year, I suffered a major medical malfunction. I had a ruptured brain aneurysm that I did not recognize for what it was. I was feeling rather poor thinking that the headache would just go away. After two days of allowing blood to pool in my brain, I finally went to the hospital. This resulted in a trip to Mass General Hospital in Boston, followed by a marathon brain surgery.
After a week in ICU, hospital staff allowed me to get up and start walking, baby steps really. Which, unfortunately, resulted in a series of strokes. More surgeries and additional ICU time.
One would think that the main concern after all these events would be my health or family. Every time I spoke to my husband or kids, I had to make sure Manny was being taken care of. His well being became an obsession for some reason.
Finally, I was released from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility close to home. Manny was able to come visit with me outside. Initially, he didn't seem to know me (there were lots of changes in me). It was funny watching him. You could actually see him figure it out.
I was a little worried about coming home. I wasn't in peak condition and I lived with a rather active dog. I was afraid he would knock me down or push me down the stairs.
He was great. Manny became my most important therapy tool. He knew exactly what I needed. He never once jumped, ran into me, or tried to beat me down the stairs.
He was constantly with me, since the state found me to be too impaired to teach and I was no longer working. He has been instrumental in my re-rehabilitation. I have learned to walk him again, play tug-o-war with him to build strength, and throw the ball.
Needless to say, he is always a willing participant. I haven't tried playing soccer yet, because he is very physical and he cheats.
I am still working on finding my new "normal," but whatever it turns out to be, I'll be fine.
I just thought you should know that the efforts you made to rescue this dog had far more impact than you know.
Please remember what you do is important. Thank you!"
The adoption process varies from state to state, as do the costs.
"We try to cover our expenses, so we can help the next dog or puppy coming into rescue which may need to have surgery due to abuse, neglect, or having been injured by a car or truck. Generally, our local adoption fees hover between $125-$175 for completely vetted dogs (up to date on shots and spayed/neutered). Out of state adopters generally pay more based on vetting requirements for the state the animal is adopted to," said Lange.
The adoption process for all adopters first requires an adoption application.
References are checked, and information is Googled to verify the residences of potential adopters. In some cases, home visits are made to ensure the pet is placed in the proper environment.
All of this checking takes time, and volunteers are always needed.
"We always need volunteers who enthusiastically support our efforts and are willing to open their homes to litters of kittens, injured cats and dogs who need a little loving care so they can be adopted into good homes after they have healed - and fostering difficult, unsocialized, and neglected dogs and cats. We believe that euthanasia should be a last resort, used only for animals beyond hope and suffering great pain."
She said there are many dogs in the area needing to be permanently placed into responsible homes.
SPARE has some difficulty finding good foster homes and are always needing help in that area.
Natalie's and Jamaica Me Tan in Highland both serve as drop off locations for donations to SPARE, Inc.
They will also notify the organization when food or other items have been donated.
Monetary donations can be mailed to: SPARE, INC., P.O. Box 364, Cherokee Village, Ark., 72525 or via www.paypal.com (Send money to firstname.lastname@example.org, click on Personal, then Gift - paypal will send a receipt instantly).
The organization is in need of: blankets, quilts and bedding; rugs and towels; cat litter; cat food; cat litter boxes; dog food (dry, canned, semi-soft); treats; toys; shampoos and conditioners; flea/tick treatment; expired antibiotics; and monetary donations to pay for veterinary care.
Those interested in helping may also donate to SPARE at the Langley Veterinary Clinic in Thayer, Mo.