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Animal Rescue: 8 Questions With Love On Wheels Founder Stacy Smith

Meet Stacy Smith, administrator of Love on Wheels, which has helped to rescue and relocate more than 400 animals since it began last year. The program operates under the umbrella of the Humane Society of Flower Mound, which Smith founded in 1997. Since its inception, Smith estimates HSFM has rescued more than 5,500 animals.  

Smith and her team of volunteers dedicate countless hours to the cause that is close to her heart, helping ease overcrowded animal shelters and educate the public about proper control of the pet population.

We wanted to know more about Smith and she was gracious enough to answer a few questions about herself and Love on Wheels:   

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about the Love on Wheels.     

Stacy Smith: Love on Wheels is a program started by the Humane Society of Flower Mound in 2013. Its mission is to alleviate overcrowding in area animal shelters by relocating adoptable dogs to parts of the country where the demand for adoptable dogs cannot currently be met.

Dawn Tongish: What are your duties at the Love on Wheels?

Stacy Smith: I started and continue to administer the program. Along with the coordinators, I select dogs for the program, oversee their veterinary care, recruit and manage foster homes, fundraise and oversee the marketing of the program.

Dawn Tongish: How did you become involved with the Love on Wheels, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the organization?   

Stacy Smith: I have been active in animal welfare for over 20 years and while we have made great strides in reducing the number of animals euthanized in shelters in those years, there is much work to be done and I believe the answer lies in innovative, non-traditional solutions like relocation program.. There are simply more dogs in shelters in Texas than we can find homes for, but in other parts of the country, people are clamoring for nice, healthy shelter dogs. This program sends great dogs to great people who might otherwise purchase from pet stores, online, or other outlets for puppy mills.

Dawn Tongish: Why do you work in the nonprofit sector? 

Stacy Smith: I don't everything I do with HSFM is on a volunteer basis.

Dawn Tongish: It can be difficult for any nonprofit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat? 

Stacy Smith: HSFM is supported entirely by donations, grants, adoption fees, fundraisers, etc. We are fortunate to have a wonderful support base.

Dawn Tongish: How can the people of Flower Mound and beyond help you meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs? 

Stacy Smith: Our two greatest needs are always money and foster homes. Each dog sent by HSFM on Love on Wheels costs approximately $150, which we do not recoup through adoption fees. We have set up a way for people to help us offset those costs here.

Dawn Tongish: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at the Love on Wheels?  

Stacy Smith: I think it would have to be the day that several dogs were adopted who had been part of a large hoarding seizure in Denton County. Over 200 were seized, many of them too scared or aggressive to be adopted out. Many of us spent time walking and caring for them for well over a month before they became the property of the Humane Society of North Texas, one of the shelters we have worked with on this program. There were a lot of dogs that were adoptable but medium-to-large sized and HSNT only had limited time and space to find them homes. We called them the Denton County survivors because they had been through so much. Although we don't usually send very shy dogs through Love on Wheels, our partner group in New York [Helping Hounds Dog Rescue] agreed to take several of them as a favor to us. Many of them were adopted the first day, and seeing them complete their long journey to loving homes made a whole lot of people cry with joy that day, including me.

Dawn Tongish: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day? 

Stacy Smith: The first thing I do each morning before I go to work (at my "real" job) is to check the computer to see what crises may have arisen overnight. When I leave work I go to the vet's office to check on our dogs, then back home for more computer time, networking with other groups, checking for dogs available in the shelters we work with, answering questions about all things animal welfare, etc. 

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at dtongish@yahoo.com or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014