Beth Walker and Neely
Beth Walker was excited about her 2013 Valentine’s Day date. It was her day off and on this beautiful sunny afternoon she was picking up her favorite fellow and taking him to the park. Not just any park either. They were going to Overton Square Dog Park, because Walker’s date was Neely, a white lab mix currently residing at Sunny Meadows Safe Haven for Pets. But as excited as Walker was about the date, Neely simply could not stop jumping up and down.
Walker is a young college student who works part time at Sunny Meadows. She is studying criminal justice at Northwest Community College in DeSoto County with a goal of becoming the first “Animal Cop” in Memphis. Animal Cops are “men and women who investigate cases of animal cruelty: rescue sick and abused animals and fight for justice on their behalf,” according to the producers of the Animal Cops reality television show.
There are other unofficial “animal cops” at Sunny Meadows. They enjoy rescuing animals from puppy mills, hoarders and other types of abusive situations. One of those rescued pets, a cat named LisaMarie, was adopted by local veterinarian Kelly Green, who works closely with Sunny Meadows to make rescued or abused pets healthy again.
“I have been working with Sunny Meadows since 2003,” said Green. “They have always shown tremendous love and compassion for all of their pets, and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to ensure they have the best care possible. At Animal Hospital Raleigh-Bartlett, we encourage anyone interested in adopting a pet to visit Sunny Meadows.”
A Big Problem
According to the Memphis Animal Services website, each year in this country, 8 to 10 million lost or unwanted dogs and cats enter animal shelters. They have about a 50 percent chance of getting out alive. Four to six million of them will be euthanized – around a half million a month nationwide, 575 each hour, one every six seconds. 25 percent of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred. Each day in the US, 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. As long as these birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for all the animals.
The unique thing about Sunny Meadows is that they are the only “no-kill” animal rescue facility in the MidSouth. They currently house about 124 dogs and 30 cats. Director Amy Goad gave me a tour of the three acres where all the pets have room to play. It’s more than just a kennel; it has a homelike feel. Goad knows all the animals by name. “These animals aren’t just numbers,” she commented. “We love them more than anyone can imagine.”
Goad also shared stories of some of the Sunny Meadows rescues. A Memphis woman saved “Toby,” a medium sized Rottweiler/Shepard mix from two adolescents who were “dangling” him off a bridge. “Tiger,” a collie mix, somehow wound up in the tiger cage at
the Memphis zoo. He sustained multiple cuts and wounds, but survived and was adopted by a family in Illinois who saw the story on TV. Birdie was a male cat who spent four days last spring trapped near the top of a tall tree in Chickasaw Gardens. The night watchman at Sunny Meadows who works at a local cable company used his bucket truck to rescue Birdie.
“Our primary focus is finding safe, loving homes for unwanted, neglected or abused animals,” said Goad. “Some are owner surrenders, some are strays, and some are rescued from bad situations. Every pet we rescue gets our full care and any medical treatment needed. Once healthy, they are ready for adoption. If a pet has any behavior issues, we work on those issues as well. All of our pets are full vetted and spayed before adoption.”
You Can Help
There are many ways and many reasons to donate. In a year’s time, Sunny Meadows:
- Receives and cares for more than 300 lost, abused and unwanted pets
- Adopts more than 200 homeless dogs and cats to new loving families
- Reunites more than 20 lost pets with their families
- Spays or neuters more than 200 dogs and cats before they join their new families
- Sunny Meadows is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible
Checks can be mailed to Sunny Meadows, 4066 New Getwell Rd, Memphis, TN 38118.
In addition, Sunny Meadows has a tangible wish list of items that can be dropped off at their facility that includes pet food or treats, bath towels, sheets, blankets, soccer balls, basketballs, footballs, copy paper, soap and more. A full list is on their website.
Animal lovers such as readers of the Memphis Medical News make up the Sunny Meadows Volunteer Force. Volunteers come from different backgrounds, but they all have three things in common: love, compassion and dedication. The online link for a Volunteer Application is http://sunnymeadows.org/volunteerapp.html. Or you can call 901.363.SAFE (7233).
Foster or Adopt
Goad says Sunny Meadows takes the adoption process very seriously. “We take particular care in placing our animals, pure and mixed breed alike. Our screening process includes an application, reference checks and a visit to the potential owner’s home to ensure the home and family is compatible with the pet’s needs and our requirements. We ask adoptive owners to sign a detailed contract obliging them to give the animal a loving home.”
Larry Hendricks, DVM, of Germantown Animal Hospital recently adopted a four pound poodle named Tess after Sunny Meadows rescued her from a puppy mill. Hendricks also works with Sunny Meadows on rescued animals that need to be spayed, neutered, have dental work or just get shots. Hendricks and his wife attended a recent get-together at Overton Park for Sunny Meadows adoptive families and said, “So many people were there that had adopted pets from Sunny Meadows. We all feel like family with them.”