Canine Can-Do: Adopt A Dog takes on pooch influx, seeks public’s help

BITZY gets to know volunteer Chris Telotti at the Hukari shelter in Odell.

BITZY gets to know volunteer Chris Telotti at the Hukari shelter in Odell.

A chance meeting this summer at Starbucks, between Hood River Adopt A Dog shelter coordinator Janette Skarda and Jan and Tom Short of Wenatchee, Wash., lead to a recent influx of five dogs at the Hukari Animal Shelter, located in Odell.

The Shorts, former volunteers with the Wenatchee Humane Society, are spending their retirement rescuing dogs from kill shelters around the Northwest. Most of their contacts are organizations without funding, who are looking to place dogs elsewhere, according to Adopt A Dog executive director Linda Vandenberg. The couple completes a basic behavioral assessment on each dog before accepting it for placement.

Adopt A Dog agreed to take the dogs in addition to the nine shelter dogs already looking for homes.

And that’s how Bitzy (a 7-pound Maltese mix), Windle (an 8-month-old lab), Baby (the biggest of the dogs, weighing in at 91 pounds), Bernice (a boxer who appears to have lead a very rough life) and Breezy (an approximately 6-month-old Australian Shepherd mix) came to the Odell shelter.

When the dogs arrived, a “small squadron of volunteers” were there to meet them, Vandenberg said.

The process started with a general wellness check from a volunteer veterinary technician. Some of the dogs were in need of a bath; some needed flea and worm treatments. The dogs were also photographed for documentation purposes, and had their kennel charts readied.

Because the center knew ahead of time of the dogs’ arrival, foster volunteer and coordinator Chris Tolotti prearranged foster homes for some of the dogs — two of new arrivals, as well as a couple of the smaller dogs housed at the shelter; it’s easier to find foster homes for the smaller dogs, Vandenberg explained.

The fees associated with the dogs are not recouped by Adopt A Dog, even with the $185 adoption fee.

“We do not make any money by any stretch of the imagination,” on the dogs, Vandenberg said. Baby will cost $196 to spay, but that total doesn’t include microchip, rabies and distemper vaccinations, or food. With Bernice, the cost will settle closer to $1,000 that the shelter will pay out; she came in with lacerations, and most of her teeth are missing — not to mention a mass on her side that needs to be biopsied — so will require much more extensive care. And that is only counting the dogs in the shelter right now; it’s an ongoing process.

To pay these costs, Adopt A Dog relies on individual donations of cash or items (see How to Help, below), as well as two small grants they receive each year. The rest is made up with fundraisers: A rummage sale in the spring, Paws for a Cause in October, and Photos with Santa Nov. 29 through Dec. 20 at the Hood River Hotel; Santa will also be available Dec. 5, during the Hood River Holidays kick-off celebration, again at the Hood River Hotel. Local piano teacher Diana Beterbide will also hold a benefit concert for Adopt A Dog on Dec. 11 at Riverside Community Church beginning at 7 p.m.

Vandenberg is grateful to the shelter’s volunteers, without whom “none of this would happen. We have three very part-time staff; our volunteers put in 4,000 hours each year.

“Volunteers are there twice a day, 365 days a year,” she added. “There’s no stopping.”

For more information or to help, there are a variety of ways to get in touch with Hood River Adopt A Dog: Via their webpage (, Facebook page (, by phone (541-354-1083) or by email (

How to help

Hood River Adopt A Dog is always looking for cash donations, foster homes and volunteers. Other needs include: donations to the shelter’s urgent care fund, dog treats, soft food, collars, leashes, dog toys and all-weather dog coats.

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