A warm and fuzzy ending for most animals at PUPS

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2014 - 1:05 PM

Most of the runaways and strays that pass through PUPS, the animal impound facility for seven northern suburbs, are rescued or reunited with their owners.

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PUPS animal containment coordinator Danielle Cheney played with Casey, a friendly 4-year-old female pit bull. Larger animals can be harder to find homes for.

Photo: Richard Sennott , Star Tribune

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Last year, 936 runaways and strays passed through the doors of PUPS, the government animal impound facility serving seven northern suburbs.

A trip to the pound doesn’t always have a happy ending: State law allows an unclaimed or stray animal to be euthanized after five business days.

But few of the animals at PUPS met that fate. In 2013, 98 percent were reunited with their owners or placed with rescue groups for future adoption or foster care.

Working with nearly 75 groups and the seven communities it serves, PUPS has steadily improved on its save rate, says animal containment coordinator Danielle Cheney.

That rate was 86 percent in 2007, her first year on the job.

Rescue groups say PUPS — short for Pets Under Police Security — has one of the highest save rates in the Twin Cities.

Staff members use social media to get the word out to rescue groups about unclaimed animals in need of new homes. PUPS then works to accommodate groups that save animals, allowing them to evaluate temperament and health while the animals are still in the impound facility.

“I do not want to euthanize any animal I don’t have to. If they are healthy and friendly, I want to get them adopted,” said Cheney, who works out of PUPS’ Maple Grove headquarters.

PUPS does not adopt out animals directly. Instead, it works with the rescue groups and humane societies.

Hard-luck cases

“There are a few animal control agencies that go above and beyond. PUPS is definitely one of them,” said Rachel Mairose, founder of the Twin Cities-based animal rescue group Secondhand Hounds.

PUPS staff has created a network of rescue groups and vets that can save some of the most hard-luck cases, including kittens and puppies that still need to be bottle fed, feral cats, pit bulls and animals in need of urgent medical care.

“They are amazing. I can’t speak more highly about them,” Mairose said. “If they have medical cases, they are great at reaching out to rescue groups like ours that have the capacity to help dogs like that.

“They don’t automatically assume a dog should be euthanized if they have medical problems. They will bring it to the vet right away as opposed to euthanizing it or letting them suffer.”

Mairose said Cheney’s commitment to improving the save rate is critical to PUPS’ success. “Danielle at PUPS is so passionate about animals, and it shows,” Mairose said. “She cares. She wants to make a difference. This is not just a job to her. She feels like she is doing good.”

Paths and procedures

An animal’s journey sometimes starts with an unlocked gate, a strange smell or the thrill of a chase.

“They see a squirrel or a bird and they’re gone. A lot of them are fence jumpers,” Cheney said.

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