Organization works to provide pets home

By Abby Morris
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Since September 1999, furry friends all across Carter County have had someone fighting on their side for them when troubles come their way.
   Approximately twenty members of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Rescue team have made it their mission to see that animals in the county receive proper care and medical treatment.
   "We investigate neglects and cruelties called in by passersby or neighbors," said ECCAR secretary and dispatcher Denise Reno. "There was a need for this service in Elizabethton and Carter County."
   As part of their jobs, members of ECCAR work with area law enforcement officers from the Elizabethton Police Department and Carter County Sheriff's Department to inspect possible cases of neglect or cruelty. "We help them and they help us," Reno said. "It's a give and take situation."
   The organization works on a volunteer basis and operates off of donations.
   Occasionally, ECCAR team members must go on very serious calls. "Depending on how serious it is, we'll step in and take the animal," Reno said. "If there is an animal that is severely emaciated or abused, we will take it."
   Once the team steps in and takes an animal, if it has been abused it goes straight to a veterinarian for medical care. After the animal has been checked out, it is placed in a temporary foster home.
   ECCAR works with foster care providers and supplies them with food for the animals and necessary medical care. "The Appalachian Animal Hospital works with us a lot," Reno said, adding that the veterinarian there provides them with medical services such as spaying and neutering at cost.
   Once an animal enters foster care with an ECCAR member or care provider, there are three options the organization has for caring for the animal. "If we press charges, the dog becomes what we call a court dog, and they will remain in foster care until the court issues a ruling as to whether the owner can retain custody of the animal," Reno said.
   If the court rules against the animal's owner, the ECCAR team tries to find an adoptive home for the animal. The organization sponsors a bulletin board of animals that are up for adoption at the Elizabethton Wal-Mart, and they also list the animals on www.petfinder.com
   If the animal is not adopted, hope is not lost. "We do not believe in euthanasia," Reno said. "Some animals will be foster animals for the rest of their lives because we are unable to find them homes."
   To report suspected cases of animal neglect or cruelty or to find out more about ECCAR, call their hotline at 542-3322.
   "To our friends, may God bless them. To our enemies, may He turn their hearts and, should He not turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so we shall know them by their limp." - -Irish Drinking Toast