The Gastineau Humane Society got quite the surprise in 2012. They have received at least 25 puppies and dogs since the start of the new year, most of which are still up for adoption.
Gastineau Humane Society Executive Director Chava Lee said it was an unusual coincidence that so many dogs were brought to the shelter at once.
“It’s just really an unusual place for us to be,” Lee said. “It’s just unusual that we would have this many dogs up for adoption.”
None of the dogs that were brought in were Christmas presents that owners quickly regretted buying, she said. Rather, they were brought in for the usual reasons — owners who couldn’t afford to take care of older dogs with medical or behavioral issues; owners who were moving and couldn’t take the dogs with them; owners who could no longer provide their dog with the care and attention they require.
Ten of the 25 are fully grown dogs of all different breeds: border collies, boxers, huskies and labs. None have been adopted yet.
Five puppies are from the same litter — they are all 5 weeks old now. Their mother was a Rottweiler-Labrador mix, and the fathers were different breeds. All of those pups have found homes, except one, Lee said. They will be allowed to go home to their new families as soon as they are old enough to be spayed and neutered.
Eleven 9-week-old puppies are all from another litter. They are also mixed breeds, but they have definite husky markings, Lee said. The smallest pup is 14 pounds; the biggest, 19. They have all been spayed or neutered.
That litter of 11 puppies has a remarkable story behind it, Lee said. A man from a village in the Southeast called Lee to see if the humane society could pay to bring his dog to Juneau, spay the dog, then send it back to him.
Lee told him that was not a financial possibility, and recommended he find someone to take the dog on the ferry for him to get her spayed.
Lee later found out from Animal Control that the man had chose to drop the dog off at a dump in his village and “let it go” instead.
A Juneau man caught wind of the dumpster dog story, rescued the dog and brought it back to Juneau to give to a friend who had said she wanted a dog. That friend ended up not being able to care for it, so another Juneau couple, Erica and Karl Tubbs, stepped in to care for the dog.
Little did they know their new pet, Cupkake, was pregnant with 11 puppies.
“All of a sudden they go from taking in this one dog that they do as a favor to having 12 dogs,” Lee said.
Erica says Cupkake, who is less than a year old herself, gave birth on their bedroom floor at their house. Eleven of the 12 puppies made it.
“At first it was kind of scary because we didn’t know anything about taking care of puppies,” Erica said. “We were very happy when they turned out so big and healthy because the odds were stacked against them and us.”
The couple asked the humane society for advice, and Lee told them one option could be for the couple to be “foster parents” for all the puppies until they are old enough to be adopted through their shelter. That means the puppies would live with the Tubbs, though the humane society would be the technical owners of the pups, until they were ready to be adopted.
“We paid for all of the stuff: the shots, the spaying and neutering, vet care, we provided them with everything,” Lee said. “And they provided all the love attention and care.”
The couple has really gone “the extra mile” for the puppies, Lee said, especially since Cupkake contacted a breast infection called mastitis that left her unable to produce milk for her puppies two weeks after they were born. The Tubbs had to bottle feed the puppies every four hours, which means they have to get up in the middle of the night to bottle feed them.
“These foster parents, I mean, they are heros in our eyes,” Lee said. “They not only did what they needed to do, they just provided all this love and attention and socialization to these puppies. These foster parents deserve a medal. They went above and beyond, that’s for sure.”
She added, “It was great working partnership, and we feel like these dogs have had the very best start that they could have got, and they will turn out to be great family dogs.”
Erica said her whole family became involved with the puppies, even the couple’s 2 1/2 year old son James, who loved to hold them in his arms while he sat in his rocking chair.
“It was a really neat thing for our family to go through all together,” Erica said.
Friends also helped the Tubbs’ out, feeding the puppies in shifts if the couple could not take off work to come home and feed them.
Erica is an air traffic controller at the airport, and her husband is an aviation safety technician for the Flight Standard District Office. The newlyweds have lived in Juneau for about a year.
The Tubbs have adopted two of the puppies and named them Daisy and Coco. The rest are available to be adopted.
To be adopted from Gastineau Humane Society, all puppies and dogs must be spayed and neutered, and they usually go through what the humane society calls a Head Start Program where they are trained and housebroken. All puppies and dogs also receive deworming and vaccinations for rabies, rhinotracheitis, calici, panleukopenia and chlamydia psittaci.
Lee says normally just three to five dogs are in the Head Start Training program at any given time. Receiving so many dogs at once is uncommon for the shelter, but Lee says the staff at the humane society was equipped and prepared to deal with it. It’s put a little stress on the office — volunteers are working extra hours to walk all the dogs, and care for them. It’s also been expensive to spay and neuter them.
“The cost is tremendous,” she said.
But, Lee says, the Gastineau Humane Society is an open admissions shelter that takes care of any animal that flies, crawls, slithers or hops into the shelter, she says.
“The best thing that we can do for these animals is to get them into good homes, If we can succeed with that, that’s our job from beginning to end.”
For those interested filling out an adoption application, visit http://www.ghspets.org/.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.