- There is an expression a friend of mine uses to describe someone whose acts of kindness and generosity benefit someone else for no other reason than that which is in their heart to do - that someone is an "Angel Unaware."
Volunteers Joan Caspi and Michelle Neufeld holding Alice, a four or five month old Labrador currently in a foster home and available for adoption.
, founder of Last Chance Animal Rescue
Fund (LCARF), as well as all of the volunteers who work with her are certainly the Angels Unaware for the adult dogs and puppies they have saved from euthanasia in the barbaric gas chambers still used in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. "Carbon monoxide is pumped in, killing groups of dogs and puppies. It takes up to 25 minutes for them to die," according to Knowlton. (New York State uses a needle for euthanasia). The cruelty, pain and disregard inflicted on many of these animals
is both upsetting and unimaginable.
"We rescue animals that are located in 'KILL' facilities and underwrite the costs of relocating them to 'NO KILL' facilities in hopes of finding them a forever family in a pre-screened loving home." Knowlton relayed a disturbing practice in the southern states that when "the owner drops off their dog the animal is killed immediately, strays are destroyed after five days, and just one facility can destroy up to 65 to 85 dogs in one week."
When asked which breed she has found to be in abundance in these facilities Knowlton stated "Mostly hounds - Beagles, Labradors, mixed hounds - these are states where hunting is very popular, and the dog owners do not have the animals fixed, therefore, the dogs mate and you have this overwhelming number of puppies that are just abandoned as well. We try to never separate the mother from the pups until the mother's milk is dry, when we are lucky enough to rescue all of them." She also indicated "that these facilities are also packed with pit bulls and the result of the massive practice of overbreeding that is simply not receiving as much legislative attention as it should."
Volunteer Judith Langmaid.
Since Knowlton began the organization almost a year ago (January 2009), the mission of LCARF, which is a charitable, non-profit organization, is to "Rescue adoptable animals who are scheduled to be euthanized." This is not an animal shelter, but a foster home run rescue group, which operates completely on a volunteer basis and through donations.
Originally from Hilton Head, SC, Knowlton has lived on the East End for the last 10 years. She is also a well-known interior designer, whose company, Merchants East, is located in Southampton. According to LCARF's website, Knowlton has stated, "After having spent a lifetime
rescuing animals, I decided to formalize a rescue organization last fall in hopes of joining forces with the thousands of other rescuers dedicated to saving the lives of these innocent animals. I have also spent a lot of time fundraising for many other causes and hope that that experience will help [us] to raise the funds necessary to do this important work."
LCARF holds and has held many events over the past year where potential foster families or those interested in adoption can meet the dogs and puppies that hopefully will result in Knowlton's success rate of eventually placing all the rescued animals in forever homes.
Even Santa Claus managed to do a little shopping, as many area stores offered discounts on merchandise to be donated to LCARF.
One such event was held on Saturday, December 5, in Bridgehampton. Among the holiday shopping items available for purchase, including pet products, pottery, sculpture, paintings, beautiful hand-made jewelry by Michelle Farmer
(whose shop is on Newtown Lane in East Hampton), plenty of delicious baked goods and even Santa Claus himself who posed for photos with the children in attendance, the real gifts were on hand - dogs, dogs, and more dogs - all in need of loving homes. Knowlton reassured that, "We have never had a dog returned to us for any behavorial problem." It should be noted that LCARF also rescues cats and horses when able.
A recent dog adopted over Columbus Day Weekend returns with her new owners and represents hope for her fellow canines waiting on adoption.
Among the many volunteers in attendance at Saturday's event were Judith Langmaid
, Michelle Neufeld
and Joan Caspi
. Knowlton also acknowledged the wonderful assistance of "our volunteer pilot, Steve Hall
, who can pick up as many as 25 dogs a week, and our driver/rescuer who just jumps in his van, makes that long drive back and forth and saves as many animals as possible. We just saved 45 dogs on Monday, and we have also worked with Paws and Claws and Darlington Rescue in South Carolina."
Knowlton candidly stated, "We are desperate for money. This effort is so important to us that many have maxed out their credit cards and done everything possible to save these animals. The organization covers the vet bills, dog food, medicines, leashes, collars and whatever else is necessary for the foster family to care for a dog or puppy until that animal has been adopted, and unfortunately we have found no vets on the East End who are willing to donate their services for even minimal assistance with our program, as we spray and neuter these animals which can become quite costly, along with all the other components we provide for a safe and happy home for the animals."
Given the current economy and the dire need at food pantries, some of which are now also soliciting pet food as well for those who are finding it difficult to care for their pets, and the numerous other worthy and important charitable organizations that are struggling to assist those in need, including animals - it may appear that Knowlton and her team of 'Angels Unaware' will encounter difficulty in finding forever homes for these animals.
A very sweet dog named Honey is available for adoption.
However, Knowlton happily relayed, "The dogs are usually adopted within two to three weeks from their foster homes, and sometimes the foster family decides to keep the dog - which is always wonderful - we have about 20 families right now that are acting as foster families, and we have had about 500 dogs adopted over the last year."
At Saturday's event there were a number of previously adopted dogs on hand with their owners, which certainly confirmed that, in fact, there are many, many 'Angels Unaware' among us who have already opened their hearts and homes to these beautiful animals, and that perhaps more angels are at the ready to foster, adopt and/or volunteer to be sure that these four-footed friends who offer unconditional love and companionship are not forgotten.
For more information on the Last Chance Animal Rescue Fund go to www.LCARF.org
Presently with a foster family, a very gentle and shy Alice was held, hugged and cuddled by many attendees and hopes are high she will have a forever home very soon.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.