Enid SPCA, American Humane and a network of local animal foster homes teamed up Tuesday to send 23 dogs in need of forever homes to Colorado, where adoptive families are awaiting their arrival.

Vickie Grantz, executive director of Enid SPCA, said the opportunity for the interstate transfer came available in the wake of Hurricane Laura, when Enid SPCA agreed to accept a shipment of cats to free up room in Louisiana shelters for animals displaced by the storm.

In return, American Humane offered to bring its specially-equipped animal trailer back to Enid to move the 23 unadopted dogs to Colorado, where there is not a surplus of adoptable animals.

"It allows us to send animals who have been here for weeks, and have been, for whatever reason, overlooked, to a place where people are waiting to adopt them," Grantz said.

The arrangement was possible, Grantz said, because of a dedicated community coalition, including Enid SPCA, local foster homes, The Groom Closet, Enid Animal Control and Friends of Enid Animals.

Of the dogs shipped out Tuesday, six had been in foster care, six at The Groom Closet and 11 at the SPCA.

Preparation for the transfer was extensive, Grantz said. Each animal had to receive a certificate of health from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to be sent across state lines, with their final destination being Larimer Humane Society in Loveland, Colo.

Dr. Lesa Staubus, DVM, with American Humane, said the organization moves animals across the United States, often due to large displacements after natural disasters, when cases of animal hoarding are uncovered or just when there is an excess in one area and a need in another.

The group deployed to rescue animals after Hurricane Laura in Texas and Louisiana, and currently is deployed to care for displaced animals due to wildfires in northern Colorado.

"We're just trying to do effective work during this pandemic," Staubus said, "and get animals to a place where there's a waiting list for animals."

Staubus said the work is rewarding and a "celebration of the human-animal bond."

"We are loading up what was someone's trash, and driving them somewhere where they will be someone's treasure," Staubus said.

The American Humane trailer was traveling in company with two couples from Enid, who are following the trailer to help walk the 23 dogs at least every six hours.

Deacon and Devin Jones said they wanted to make the trip to give back, and celebrate their love of dogs.

"We're retired and we're always trying to find stuff to do, and we're big dog lovers," Deacon said.

Devin said it was an opportunity to get away, spend some time with her husband, and enjoy their shared love for animals.

While American Humane and Enid SPCA were busy sorting out paperwork for the transfer, dog foster mom Laurie Moreland was giving a few last pats to her foster dog, Pilot, who was headed for Colorado.

Moreland said she's fostered about 20 dogs over the last year, and it's still hard to say goodbye when they move on to their forever home.

"The first ones are always the hardest, but you get used to it," Moreland said. "It's a really rewarding experience to save an animal from being put to sleep."

Sonya Frei, with Rebel Rescue, was walking and saying goodbye to her foster dog, Mary — the latest in about 250 dogs Frei has fostered.

Mary was brought to Enid SPCA after being found in the country covered in porcupine quills, include one which caused the loss of her left eye. Frei said the wounds attracted her to Mary.

"I take on dogs that need a lot of medical care — that's my weakness," Frei said. "Ever since I was a little kid I would bring home animals, because I lived on a farm. I just love caring for animals, and there's definitely a need in Oklahoma."

Grantz, with Enid SPCA, encouraged more people to take advantage of the love to be found in adopting or fostering dogs and cats.

"They know they've been rescued, and they are so grateful for being loved," Grantz said. "Don't miss out on that opportunity to love and be loved."

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