EACH YEAR, millions of unwanted dogs and puppies are left at animal shelters or dumped on roadsides to fend for themselves.
According to figures quoted by Kathy Graninger, self-employed canine behavioral specialist, more than 8 million dogs were destroyed in shelters throughout the United States in 1996. The number does not include dogs euthanized by veterinarians in private practice, or animals dying from abuse and mistreatment.
Graninger, who has a degree in psychology with emphasis on animal sciences and behavior, found this unacceptable.
She loves animals, especially the canine variety, and is disgusted by humans who neglect or abuse them.
As a professional, Graninger works with dogs 60 to 70 hours each week. And as a volunteer, Graninger puts in many more hours coordinating a dog rescue operation for unwanted animals.
Veterinarians and shelters with unwanted dogs or puppies contact her. She arranges for the animals to receive shots and checkups, and finds families who will provide a warm, loving and safe environment until they can be adopted.
One of Graninger's foster families is the Betz family of Highland. Patricia and Daniel Betz and their children -- Nicholas, 11, Danielle, 10, and Amanda, 6 -- have been caring for litters of puppies since October.
Patricia Betz contacted Graninger last fall because her family wanted to volunteer with an animal welfare group. Graninger described the phone calls she receives each week from animal shelters and veterinarians asking her to take puppies because there is no room for them or because they are too young -- and the Betz family agreed to help.
Betz estimates that her family has cared for at least 10 litters of puppies, since Graninger brought the first litter to her home.
Two of the litters, containing 5- and 7-week-old puppies, arrived at the same time.
When the puppies are old enough, volunteers take them to adoption fairs sponsored by groups such as the Animal Welfare League.
Potential owners, who search for dogs at these events, submit an application to adopt an animal.
An initial interview is conducted and the adopting family is screened and educated by Graninger.
The family must agree to a house check to determine if the environment is suitable for raising a dog, have the animal examined by a veterinarian, have it neutered at 6 months old, and give a donation to help pay to shelter the animals.
Sheltering puppies has been a lot of work for the Betzes.
They feed the puppies, train them and spend time with them. Graninger provides the food and the veterinary care out of her own funds. The donations she receives cover only a small fraction of her expenses.
Serving as surrogate parents for the puppies has shown the Betz children how animals are sometimes abused.
But they have also learned about kindness, unconditional love and caring for helpless creatures.
The children are home-schooled, and the experience has been part of their education. In addition to learning responsibility and community service, the children have had to learn to say goodbye.
When the time comes for the puppies to leave, "the children feel sad," Patricia Betz said. "But I know if we don't keep giving [the dogs] away, we won't be able to keep saving them."
Graninger will be moving to Glenelg in September. If you are interested in helping with her rescue operation -- by donating food or money, sheltering animals, or taking them to adoption shows -- call 301-384-0017.
A neighbor and friend
Last Friday, residents of Dayton and Glenelg were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Lenny Hobbs, a neighbor and friend.
For more than 50 years, he was the proprietor of Hobbs Service Station in Dayton. Folks often referred to it as a little bit of Andy Griffith's town, Mayberry.
Our family and many of our neighbors drove past newer, more convenient facilities to purchase gas from Mr. Hobbs.
Sometimes we'd just stop by to chat, as so many people did.
He knew all of us by name. When my 17-year-old son began driving, he purchased gas there too, and visited with Mr. Hobbs and his wife, Evelyn. They were always happy to see him.
My son would make special trips to show the Hobbses his report card, and they were proud of him.
Mr. Hobbs will be very much missed.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Mrs. Hobbs and their children, Ron Hines and Susan Nelson.
At the Howard County Science Fair on March 14 at Long Reach High School, River Hill High School freshmen Candace Almond and Erin Deegan earned an award of excellence for their team project, "A Solar Oven."
Xiaosong Meng and John Rim won a third-place award from the Amika Corp. for their project, "Opening a Clam Shell Using a Laser."
Contributing to the school's growing reputation for academic excellence, the River Hill Math Team finished the season by winning the Division B County Mathematics Championship on March 18.
With this victory, the math team advances into Division A for next year's meets.
Given awards and invited to join the county team to compete at Penn State were Chanu Rhee, Andrew Chen, Fan Yang, Eric Tung and Russell Popkin.
Pub Date: 4/16/98