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Paws for a Cause: The Role of Denton’s Animal Nonprofits

Tackling High Euthanasia Rates in Texas Shelters Through Compassionate Action

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In 2021, more than 61,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in shelters across Texas. And as of 2022, Texas had the most animal shelter deaths in the United States.

Here in Denton, there are a number of animal nonprofit organizations working hard to help ease the burden of overcrowded animal shelters in our community, the greater DFW Metroplex, and even the entire state.

Denton Animal Support Foundation

The Denton Animal Support Foundation (DASF) got its start in 2006 when some concerned Dentonites wanted to help provide a new animal shelter for the city.

“I was just appalled at the shelter,” recalls Bette Sherman, chairman and co-founder of DASF. “It was on Woodrow (Lane) near the county jail and it was surrounded by barbed wire. At that time in 2006, it was 35 years old. It had been built not as an adoption center, but as a holding place before they euthanize most of the pets. The live exit rate from that shelter in 2006 was less than 40% of 4,000 animals.”

DASF has continuously donated pet food for SPAN Meals on Wheels Senior Paws Program. Pictured is DASF staff with SPAN in front of their shed we helped fill with pet food for their clients.

Sherman and others formed DASF as a 501c3 nonprofit and raised $2.2 million to build the current Denton Animal Shelter, which opened in 2015.

DASF continues to support the Denton Animal Shelter through a variety of programs, including emergency medical funds and adoption subsidies, which allow the shelter to adopt pets at a lower cost.

“In the past three months, we have donated almost $20,000 (towards adoption subsidies) because DASF has run two programs in February and in April at $20 a pet,” Sherman says. “We have adopted out over 200 animals through that program.”

In addition to helping the shelter, DASF also assists pets in Denton through their Emergency Pet Food Pantry. Sherman says DASF provides the food donations and the Denton Animal Shelter houses and distributes it.

“We started that in March 2020 when COVID hit and people began to lose their jobs and get locked down … and they didn’t have the money to feed their pets,” she continues. “It’s free — there are no questions asked. All a person has to do is call and get an appointment. The shelter staff will have what they need ready for them. We’ve fed about 12,000 animals since then.”

With all of these programs, DASF is always looking for donations of both money and pet food from the community. And Sherman says they are currently running a fundraiser where one donor will match all donations up to $5,000.

For more information on how you can help DASF, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

DFW Rescue Me

DFW Rescue Me is a 501c3 foster-based dog rescue group based in Denton but covering the entire DFW area.

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“My wife and I had volunteered for other dog rescues and saw how we could do it a little bit differently with a little bit better focus, and we felt make more of an impression on some of the shelters in our area,” President and Co-Founder Jim Wenger explains when asked why they decided to start this nonprofit in January 2011.

Most of the dogs that come to DFW Rescue Me are from local area shelters. “We really try to focus on the severely neglected, injured, abused dogs that a lot of the other rescues don’t do,” Wenger says. 

DFW Rescue Me works with a network of about 50 foster families located throughout the DFW Metroplex. “Out of those 50, there’s probably 25 that are active all of the time,” he says. “Then there’s others that are active only during certain times of the year. Or some of them are just medical fosters where we’ll have a dog that had a procedure and they need crate rest for two weeks or three weeks. So that that family will step in and be the medical foster care during that crate rest period.”

Since its start in January 2011, DFW Rescue Me has adopted over 3,800 dogs.

Right now, Wenger says they are always in need of new foster families, as that is the one thing that limits their ability to take more dogs. Those interested can apply online. They are also always in need of volunteers to help walk dogs they may have in boarding and work adoption events.

And Wenger says monetary donations are always appreciated, as are donations of pet supplies such as pee pads and dog treats.

“The best thing that you can do in your life is realizing there’s things bigger than you, so get out there and volunteer, whether it’s for a dog rescue or the food bank or whatever,” he adds. “Get outside of your box and outside of your comfort zone and volunteer and do something selfless.”

For more information on how you can help DFW Rescue Me or adopt one of their dogs, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

Denton Humane Society

Started in 1972, the Denton Humane Society is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting animals in the Denton community.

President Lisa Wighaman says they work on pulling animals that are not getting adopted from area shelters, including Denton, Lake Dallas, and smaller shelters in Argyle and places further west.

“We take the worst of the worst,” she explains. “We pick the ones that are sick, that probably aren’t going to have that much longer before they euthanize them. We pick the ones that are crippled, that  may have a deformity that is the reason they’re not getting adopted.”

Additionally, the Denton Humane Society assists those who may find a cat with a litter of kittens in their backyard. They will either find them a foster home, work with the Good Samaritan on fostering them, or get them to another nonprofit in the area so they can be cared for and adopted out.

Speaking of foster families, Wighaman says they are in need of more. Those interested can apply to be a foster online. And the Denton Humane Society pays for all medical expenses the foster animal may need.

In addition to foster homes, Wighaman says people can help out the organization through monetary donations, volunteering during their annual Christmas pet pictures event, and holding a drive for food, toys, and/or treats.

“And it doesn’t take a whole lot to do a food drive — you can do it in one day,” she adds. “Get permission from a store, set up, and do a free drive in one day. Or put a box out somewhere and ask people to donate food.”

For more information on how you can help the Denton Humane Society and for information on their adoptable animals, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

Texas Sporting Breed Rescue, Inc.

Headquartered in Denton, the Texas Sporting Breed Rescue Inc. is a nonprofit 501c3 with a mission of helping lost, abandoned, neglected, or homeless sporting group breed dogs, concentrating on the DFW Metroplex area.

According to Co-Founder Jenifer Batchelder, they incorporated the organization in November 2011 to fill a gap they felt was missing in breed-specific rescues. “We felt Texas Sporting Breed Rescue would focus on all of the sporting group breeds, allowing us to fill in the gaps where single breed-specific rescues weren’t able to,” she explains. “We definitely don’t have a shortage of sporting breeds here in North Texas or Texas in general.”

Most of the dogs were assisted through the rescue from local shelters or shelters throughout the state of Texas. Additionally, they will take owner surrenders when space is available as the organization is 100% foster home based.

“We are absolutely 1000% in need of foster homes — they are the heartbeat of our organization,” Batchelder says. “If we take a dog from a shelter or from an owner, we have to have a foster home available for it to go. We can only save as many dogs as we have fosters.”

Like all nonprofits, the Texas Sporting Breed Rescue Inc. is also in need of monetary donations and volunteer help.

Batchelder says they hold a couple of big fundraising events during the year where they always need volunteer assistance, including a silent auction with the National Corvette Restorer Society and Wrapping for Rescue where they provide on-site gift wrapping between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at Cabela’s in Fort Worth.

For more information on how you can help the Texas Sporting Breed Rescue Inc. and for information on their adoptable animals, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group

The UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group is a nonprofit 501c3 with the mission of helping to control the feral cat population on the University of North Texas’ campus.

Dallas Newell — who at that time worked for UNT as a computer systems manager — started the organization in 1998. Through volunteer help, the group feeds the feral counts on campus through the placement of feeding shelters.

Additionally, the UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group traps the cats in the area to have them spayed or neutered and given a rabies shot. “And then they notch the left ear,” Newell says. “Basically they just cut off a small piece of the top of the ear flat and that’s an international indication that that particular cat has been trapped and neutered.”

Although the group had a large volunteer base — including UNT students — before COVID since then Newell says very few came back and they are in need of more help.

“We’re working hard right now to try and get more volunteers,” she continues. “We need faculty, staff, and students. And they don’t even have to be associated with the university — they can just be someone that likes cats and be a volunteer of our group.”

Newell says the UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group receives some financial aid by being an option on UNT’s State Employee Charitable Campaign (SCCC0). However, they are always in need of financial donations to assist them with vet costs and purchasing food. And Newell says they also accept pet food donations.

“We need people to help feed the shelters on campus — we do provide them the food,” Newell explains. “Sometimes you only have to go one or two times a week to a shelter, because there’s not that many cats there. And we need help with people keeping our Facebook and our website current. So there’s several opportunities of assistance they could provide to that group.”

For more information on how you can help the UNT Feral Cat Rescue Group, follow them on Facebook.

Texas Coalition for Animal Protection

According to Director of Programs Robert Knox, the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection (TCAP) is a 501c3 nonprofit founded in November 2002 that is headquartered in Denton and runs eight high volume, low cost, spay and neuter clinics in the DFW area.

“Our goal is to essentially end overpopulation for companion animals to dogs and cats, and improve animal welfare throughout North Texas,” he adds.

Knox says the organization is mainly self-funded through the income they make through their wellness program, which offers basic but essential services pets need at a low cost, including vaccinations, heartworm testing and prevention, flea and tick prevention, and microchipping.

“We really want to be self-sufficient so that we aren’t going to be slowed down if there is maybe an economic downturn and people aren’t donating or grants don’t come in or something like that,” Knox says. “We don’t want that to stop our ability to serve the public.”

In addition to its wellness program, TCAP also provides low-cost spay and neuter services, as well as dental cleaning and surgery for pets.

“Dentals can add anywhere from three to five years to a pet’s life cycle,” Knox explains. “They need dental care just like humans do and oftentimes, when (owners) see a (veterinary) services bill or a quote for doing that service, they just don’t do it. That’s a significant chunk of time that you’re losing with your pet if you’re just forgoing that service. And so we wanted to make sure that if people really want to get that done, but they just can’t shell out a $1,000 to do a dental cleaning, we can still make that possible.”

And TCAP also helps out the feral cat population in the DFW with its Feral Fix Program offering spay and neuter services for community members who want to take care of the wild domestic cats in their area.

“A mama cat can have up to three litters a year … so spaying and neutering them really helps curb that population growth and it gives them a better life,” Knox says.

While TCAP works hard to be financially self-sufficient, Knox says monetary donations are always welcome. “If clients believe in our cause and if they want to help us in our mission to end overpopulation, donations are very, very important, especially in times where costs are soaring right now,” he says.

And Knox says they are always in need of donations of everyday items, such as newspapers they can use as absorbent pads and towels. “If they’re used and you’re thinking of throwing them away anyways, you might as well donate them to a place that will use them,” he adds.

For more information on the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

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