For homeless, unwanted or lost dogs, the Jackson County Dog Pound is not the end of a sad road. Instead, it’s more likely to be a friendly stopping-off point on the way back home or to a better place.

The 2020 statistics released recently by Jackson County Dog Warden Deb Fout back up this statement. The fact is that almost all the wayward dogs which come into the Jackson County Dog Pound head back out the door later to either go back home or to new homes. In 2020, Fout and her staff were able to achieve a truly amazing 98-percent live-release rate for the 772 dogs which came to the pound during the year.

One of the big success stories behind these statistics is the number of Jackson County Pound dogs that are saved by rescue programs. In fact, a total of 525 dogs were given a new lease on life last year through rescues. For Fout, saving dogs and finding them new homes is one of the more satisfying aspects of her often challenging and never-ending job. Rescues involve the Jackson County Dog Pound communicating and working with other individuals and facilities, who also feel compassion for the homeless canines.

“This is why we do what we do,” Fout told The Telegram. “Our rescues have the people and the resources to give our dogs their best possible lives. All dogs are precious and deserve our best.”

Fout provided The Telegram with details regarding one of Jackson County Dog Pound’s more heartwarming rescue stories. It started last Nov. 21 when a citizen found two puppies who had been thrown into a dumpster on Wood Avenue in Jackson. The pups, who were most likely litter mates, were in poor condition and were both suffering from a serious case of mange, which had caused large portions of their hair to fall out.

Fout and her staff cared for the abandoned pups and administered some initial medication to address the mange problems and also went to work to connect with potential rescuers.

That rescuer turned out to be Vanessa Moses, a resident of the village of Frazeysburg, Ohio in Muskingum County, which is 125 miles from Jackson. In her spare time, Moses has dedicated countless hours as an unpaid volunteer working to help homeless dogs in need of special care and new homes. In addition to volunteering time to work at the Muskingum County Dog Pound, she has provided foster homes for dogs herself, served as a networker to get dogs placed in rescue facilities, and has also provided transportation services for the dogs. She has worked with the Jackson County Dog Pound in the past and respects the work Fout and her staff have done to save as many dogs as possible.

Moses saw the Jackson County Dog Pound’s plea for help on social media and personally stepped up to take the responsibility to find a temporary rescue home for the two mangy pups. In this case, Vanessa reached out to Multiple Breed Rescue (MBR) in Grafton, Ohio, in Lorain County, and was able to gain placement there for both of the Jackson County dogs. MBR can’t accept every dog without a home, but Moses has collaborated with them in the past, and her recommendation was likely an important factor in the pups being placed.

In a telephone interview, Moses told The Telegram that she often works in the role of a networker who connects dog pounds and rescue shelters to gain placements for dogs needing care and eventually new homes. “Networking is my piece. I know the right fit,” she said.

She says she especially has a place in her heart to try to help special-needs cases like the mange-ridden Jackson County pups.

“Some of these dogs are not very adoptable due to medical needs,” Moses noted. “They need more care before they can be adopted out. When I saw the pictures of those two pups from Jackson County, I knew I just had to do something.” She immediately tagged them as the “mystery puppies” as their mange was so severe it was difficult to determine their breed and what they would look like after they were well again.

MBR is a state-registered, non-profit, private organization, whose members try to help as many displaced animals as possible with the objective of adopting these animals to loving homes. From 2006 through 2019, MBR has rescued over 2,400 dogs and plans to grow that number. Fout says the organization has been a great resource for local rescue projects.

According to an explanatory statement on the MBR website: “We work with humane officers, veterinarians and shelters in the state of Ohio to help dogs that are being mistreated, abused, neglected, or have medical needs. We also take in dogs from high-kill shelters, local county-run pounds, and in-state rescues to allow them to make room for new in-takes to their facility.

“Once in our care, all of our animals are given proper and necessary vetting to ensure their well-being,” the MBR statement continued. “We do not have a public shelter; the majority of our dogs are in foster homes. That means prior to adoption, our animals live in someone’s home until they can be placed in a loving FURever home. MBR operates 100 percent on volunteers and donations. We are a registered non-profit 501(c) 3.”

MBR contacted foster dog parent Candi Stanziano, who agreed to temporarily take in the two Jackson County pups. Stanziano had had previous experience caring for mangy dogs and her efforts with the two Jackson County transplants were likewise successful. The pups are healthy again, their mange has been cured and they are currently in MBR’s application process to be adopted by new owners.

The transformation -- starting with two forlorn and mangy pups left for dead in a dumpster to two healthy, happy dogs now in loving homes -- makes Fout feel good about her job and everyone who was involved in this process. The common denominator is that all along the way, there were caring people who wanted to see the pups not only live, but thrive with opportunities for new leases on life.

Fout concluded, “I just think that with the 'Rona' (the coronavirus) and all the bitterness over our politics these days, we needed to hear a story like this that makes you smile.”

In faraway Frazeysburg, Moses is also happy with the success story. “Those before and after pictures are what it’s all about,” she exclaimed.