Rescue group shows adoptable dogs at Wichita-area pet stores

01/23/2011 12:00 AM

01/23/2011 9:28 AM

Janet Bryant carried a shih tzu named Mojo on her shoulder at the PetSmart west store.

She was hoping that someone would take a liking to her 2-year-old foster dog.

"He's my 139th," Bryant said. "I've only kept two of my foster dogs — No. 10 and No. 77."

Both were shih tzus.

"It's my breed of choice."

As a member of Kansas K-9 ResQ, Bryant devotes two Saturdays a month to showcasing dogs that need homes.

Mojo was one of three dogs that were being showcased by K-9 ResQ volunteers Saturday at PetSmart west. Other dogs were making appearances with their foster owners at three other Wichita pet stores.

Wichita-area residents can find rescued animals on display almost every weekend in local pet stores. Groups like K-9 ResQ or Pals Animal Rescue use the visits to raise their public profile and draw shoppers' attention to animals that need homes.

Bryant said she found it difficult, at first, to give up a foster dog after growing attached to it.

"It's easy to let them go when you know that they'll be safe and loved forever," she said. "The key to fostering is to let them go."

J.D. Irwin, who is vice president of K-9 ResQ, said his group found homes for 87 dogs last year — down slightly from 99 in 2009.

His wife, Sherry Irwin, said 75 to 80 percent of the adoptions come through meetings with members of the public in local pet stores.

On Saturday, the Irwins' group was showcasing Mojo, whose owner's health problems made it impossible to keep her, and two dogs that came from the Wichita Animal Shelter.

J.D. Irwin said the group has 14 foster homes. Most care for one or two dogs at a time.

"We'd love to have more homes because that would mean more dogs that could be rescued and saved from euthanasia," he said.

The Irwins have adopted out 139 of the 140 dogs they have taken in over the past decade.

"It's an addiction," he said. "Once you get into it, you can't get out of it."

He said most foster owners end up keeping at least one of their dogs.

For LaVonda Cash of Conway springs, that keeper dog probably won't be the 2-year-old basenji mix named Shaunsey that she was showcasing at PetSmart west. The only adoption application of the day was for Shaunsey.

Many of Wichita's animal rescue groups specialize in a type or breed of animal. Cash said all the rescue group volunteers share the same love of animals.

"In the end, we're all doing the same thing," she said. "We want to find excellent owners for dogs that have been thrown away."

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