VINITA — For more than three years, Kay Stout, of Edmond, executive director of the Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter in Vinita, has joined forces with area nonprofit rescues and animal shelters from more than a dozen rural state municipalities to give a second chance to unwanted or abandoned dogs through its weekly “Ride to Rescue” program.

The outreach program uses PAAS Vinita’s animal shelter as a regional hub to house 25 to 30 dogs a week. Each dog has been pre-selected by participating area shelters and rescues based on specific criteria, including the state of the dog’s health, friendliness and potential adopt-ability. The dogs are then transported from PAAS Vinita in a dog-friendly bus to the Dumb Friends League in Colorado, where they are usually quickly adopted.

Early in November, a friendly young Great Dane mix named Homer was delivered to the Dumb Friends League’s Buddy Center in Castle Rock, Colorado. Homer became the 5,000th dog “Ride to Rescue” has delivered. In celebration, the Dumb Friends League presented Homer with a cake and his success story was featured on TV by a Denver CBS affiliate. Homer was also adopted the next day.

“You suddenly realize the 5,000th dog delivery is so symbolic in so many ways because most of those dogs potentially have new homes in Colorado,” she said. “We have a business mindset at our shelter, but our biggest challenge is knowing that we can’t always save the dog in front of us, but we do save the 10 that are waiting to go on the bus.”

Approximately 95% of the dogs that are delivered weekly have been adopted before the next week’s transport arrives. While Oklahoma has a surplus of dogs and cats, Colorado has a booming population of people who often want to adopt a dog in need of a home.

In addition to PAAS Vinita, the other Oklahoma shelters and rescues come from the towns of Bixby, Chickasha, Collinsville, Coweta, Duncan, Enid, Mannford, Miami, Muskogee, Langley, Noble, Poteau, Sapulpa, Sand Springs, and Tulsa. Stout said with the help of generous philanthropists, including the Cresap Family Foundation and the Arnall Family Foundation, the “Ride to Rescue” program has been a success.

“Without philanthropists who are willing to trust us, we could not have accomplished what we’ve accomplished,” she said. “With the massive dog overpopulation in rural Oklahoma, I believe our best line of attack is our out-of-state transfers. We have too many unwanted dogs here, so we take the overflow to Colorado.”

Dumb Friends League Public Relations Manager Maia Brusseau said its partnership with PAAS Vinita is very valuable because the “Ride to Rescue” program delivers highly adoptable dogs.

“We collaborate with them and their partner shelters concerning an individual dog’s health care, vaccinations and veterinary records,” Brusseau said. “Before the ‘Ride to Rescue’ program we had more adopters than dogs here in Colorado and we didn’t have enough dog choices. When PAAS Vinita delivers the dogs, they are greeted warmly by our staff and volunteers, and we feel so grateful to have them.

“We thank the people of Oklahoma for bringing us these dogs," she said.

She said the league’s name can be confusing to the uninformed. The term “dumb” was a common term used in 1910 when the Dumb Friends League was established. It means lacking the power of speech.

“It means we are speaking for those who cannot,” Brusseau said. “It is really quite sweet.”

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