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VOL. 125 | NO. 29 | Friday, February 12, 2010

Streetdog Foundation Gives Hope to Hopeless Pets

By Tom Wilemon

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Melanie and Kent Pafford of Memphis give treats to a few of their dogs. The Paffords run a dog rescue organization called Streetdog Foundation Inc. The couple will hold their first adoption event Saturday at Hollywood Feed in Midtown. Photo: Lance Murphey

“When we started doing this, we thought we would be able to get them adopted pretty soon. We had no idea that it would take this long.”

Melanie Pafford

Life hasn’t been the same for Kent and Melanie Pafford since they visited the Memphis Animal Shelter and looked into the faces of the dogs there with a not-too-bright-future.

They went there in August, two months before the facility was raided, when a friend asked them to search for a missing dog.

“All the dogs there know they are in a bad place,” Kent Pafford said. “You can see it in the dogs’ demeanors and their eyes that they all know something bad happens there. Because all of the people that come through there know that something bad happens there nobody looks these dogs in the eye. Everybody just tries to pretend the dog isn’t there.”

Melanie Pafford put her hand on each cage and spoke to each dog. She urged her husband to do the same.

“Even the ones we couldn’t do anything for we had to let them know that somebody did care for them,” he said.

Personal mission

The experience led the couple to found Streetdog Foundation Inc., a rescue mission for animals they have so far funded from their own pocketbooks. They started out by taking home from the shelter an injured and bleeding dog that had not received any veterinary care plus two others.

They have also taken in dogs from the streets. The Paffords are currently paying the veterinarian bills and kennel fees for 10 dogs and fostering two others at their Downtown home.

So far, they’ve been able to find homes for only two dogs. They hope to have more success Saturday when they will host their first adoption event at Hollywood Feed, 2015 Union Ave., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They plan to make the adoption opportunity a regular event at the store on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

“Unlike other rescue groups – a lot of them rely on foster homes – we have no foster volunteers,” said Melanie Pafford. “We are boarding them. That gets very expensive, plus there are any of the medical needs they have.”

On top of those expenses, the couple spent $1,200 recently to have a lawyer prepare the papers for Streetdog Foundation to be a nonprofit organization.

“We are trying to find our place for where our talents will be best used,” she said. “When we started doing this, we thought we would be able to get them adopted pretty soon. We had no idea that it would take this long.”

Help, please

Kent Pafford is an air traffic controller, and Melanie Pafford is a choreographer. Between the two of them, they have a wide circle of friends. But so far they have resisted using that network.

“We’ve never done anything like this and we’ve never asked for money before,” she said. “That’s been kind of hard.”

However, word has spread about their mission. The Paffords receive calls almost daily about dogs in distress.

“At this point, we are a little overwhelmed for bringing in a new one,” Kent Pafford said.

Before they can take in more dogs, they need people to adopt the ones they’re currently providing care and shelter. Dogs available for adoption can be seen at http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/TN585.html.

The posting on Petfinder also gives an in-depth account of how the Paffords were led to start the Streetdog Foundation. Kent Pafford writes a first-person account of the visit to the shelter and his philosophical and religious views about saving the dogs.

The raid on the shelter occurred in October. Animal lovers responded with candlelight vigils. Law enforcement agencies launched an investigation that led to indictments this week. The shelter is back in operation under new management.

The Paffords don’t get into the politics of the shelter or any details about the scandal with their posting on petfinder. They just tell about how their visit spurred them to do what they could to make a difference.

Kent Pafford said the dogs available for adoption are social and have interacted with other animals at canine day care. One, an American bulldog, already knows how to stay, stand and heel on cue. Along the way, the Paffords have also picked up three or four cats that need homes.

Besides adoptive parents, Streetdog Foundation is seeking people who are willing to provide foster services.

Plans are in the works for a fundraiser involving as many as four bands, he said, but a date has not been set yet.

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