New APET initiatives seek to find more forever places for pooches

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Instead of languishing in kennels, more and more dogs could enjoy a new leash on life if two new initiatives at the APET shelter outside Mineola gain traction.

In late July, four local canines were tagged for adoption under a new partnership between Animal Preservation of East Texas (APET) and Eleventh Hour Rescue of New Jersey. Also, Ryan Benicky recently came aboard to manage shelter operations for APET, where he intends to begin intensive training of dogs as a way to make them more attractive as adoptees.

Under the APET-Eleventh Hour partnership, East Texas dogs suitable for adoption will be made available through Eleventh Hour’s network of social media to homes across the entire Northeast. Eleventh Hour Rescue is a New Jersey organization dedicated to finding good homes for pets. Eleventh Hour works in tandem with Lone Star Transport, a non-profit organization that ships Texas dogs to new homes in the Northeast. Lone Star Transport operates a transfer site in Lindale.

That mission of Eleventh Hour and Lone Star Transport dovetails with APET’s no-kill philosophy. APET chair Cindy “C.J” Thatcher noted a number of dogs at the APET shelter have been at the facility nearly their entire lives, taking up space needed for other dogs. Several weeks ago, the shelter was near capacity with 19 dogs.

“We’re doing it for the ones we’ve had here for so long,” Thatcher said of the dogs bound for the Northeast. “They are in demand up there. They are large dogs.”

It cost $100 to adopt a dog from the APET shelter, and all dogs eligible for adoption are spayed or neutered, given their full array of shots and clear of heartworm. According to Thatcher, dogs eyed for adoption also must get along with other dogs and be approachable by humans. Some dogs now at the shelter fail to meet those requirements.

“They’re skittish; they’ve been through God knows what, so that’s where Ryan’s training of animals is going to really make them more adoptable, not only the ones going north but the ones we’re keeping here,” Thatcher said.

Benicky came to Mineola about 1½ years ago from San Diego, Calif., where he was involved in training service and therapy dogs for people suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) as well as children with autism, he said. He specializes in traumatized dogs and works to rehabilitate them to the point where they can be trained to interact with humans. Ultimately, Benicky noted, he’d like to train dogs for use in local schools and for therapy in a number of settings. Dogs with such traits would make them more likely to find a home outside their APET pens, according to Benicky.

Even if a dog does not become trained for therapy or special service, a well-behaved dog is far more likely to be adopted and accepted into a household.

“A lot of our returns are because people want dogs ready to go,” Benicky said. “They want them potty trained. They want them to sit and shake and be ready to go.”

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