Daily Egyptian

From dogs in dorms to clinics and shelters: the story of Wright-Way Rescue

Warren%2C+a+5-month-old+collie+mix%2C+gets+a+checkup+and+her+shots+by+SIU+alumnae+Rebecca+McClure+%28right%29%2C+of+West+Frankfort%2C+and+Peggy+Nott%2C+of+Downers+Grove%2C+Friday%2C+Sept.+22%2C+2017%2C+at+Wright-Way+Rescue+in+Murphysboro.+%28Mary+Newman+%7C+%40MaryNewmanDE%29
Warren, a 5-month-old collie mix, gets a checkup and her shots by SIU alumnae Rebecca McClure (right), of West Frankfort, and Peggy Nott, of Downers Grove, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at Wright-Way Rescue in Murphysboro. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

Warren, a 5-month-old collie mix, gets a checkup and her shots by SIU alumnae Rebecca McClure (right), of West Frankfort, and Peggy Nott, of Downers Grove, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at Wright-Way Rescue in Murphysboro. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

Warren, a 5-month-old collie mix, gets a checkup and her shots by SIU alumnae Rebecca McClure (right), of West Frankfort, and Peggy Nott, of Downers Grove, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at Wright-Way Rescue in Murphysboro. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

By Tierra Carpenter

Christy Anderson was a sophomore in 2002 when she decided to make it her mission to save animals from being euthanized.

Anderson said she was living in a West Campus dorm room when she and her roommate visited a local animal control facility, where they were told half of the animals would be killed by 3 p.m.

They immediately took it upon themselves to save one of the dogs, Anderson said.

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She started rescuing one animal at a time and housing it in her dorm for a few days until she could find it a home with her friends, family or an acquaintance. She said when she ran out of people she knew she started using PetFinder to advertise the animals she had up for adoption.

By 2004, Anderson opened up Wright-Way Rescue in Murphysboro to dedicate her time to saving animals.

“[I] sort of just by accident made the connection with pairing animals from rural communities with adopters seeking them in urban areas,” Anderson said. “Wright-Way just kind of very organically and unintentionally became a rescue.”

Wright-Way isn’t only a rescue shelter; it also features a veterinary clinic called TimberTrails, with a critical care center just a couple miles away. There is a second location in Morton Grove, which houses their adoption center and another veterinary clinic.

“All of those services are geared towards preventing pet overpopulation and keeping pets in homes that they already have,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the Morton Grove facility supports a larger number of adoptions, which is good because business is continuously growing. The rescue expects to save a total of 5,000 pets this year, she said.

Charity, a 1-year-old brindle hound mix, looks through the fence of a yard Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at Wright-Way Rescue in Murphysboro. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

It’s been about 15 years now since Anderson rescued her first dog, and she said her passion for animals keeps her going.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Anderson said. “I absolutely love being able to do what I do everyday, and the motivation to continue is the positive change that I’ve seen in the decrease of adoptable animals being euthanized.”

Anderson said animal control is a lot better than it was when she first started rescuing, although the pace of change has been slow.

“Things have improved for the better in terms of euthanasia rates and the amount of compassion that’s shown to homeless animals, and I think the amount of homeless pets coming in has also slowly declined,“ Anderson said.

She said she thinks this change comes from people spaying and neutering their pets more often.

“I think people are starting to think a little bit more about why that is both important and convenient,” Anderson said.

Over the years the rescue has faced setbacks, including an incident in 2013 in which a school bus ran into the original Wright-Way adoption center in Niles. The facility had to close down, Anderson said.

She described that event as a devastating.

“It was a 7,000 square foot building and the roof collapsed,” Anderson said. “It was deemed uninhabitable. It was an absolute miracle that nobody was killed or injured.“

She said recovering from that was one of the most challenging times of her life.

“What we had built for ten years was gone in two seconds,” Anderson said.

They had to work out of temporary facilities for a year, and she said a week before the anniversary of the crash they were able to reopen in Morton Grove.

Weston, a 5-month-old collie mix, is looked over by SIU alumna Rebecca McClure, of West Frankfort, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at Wright-Way Rescue in Murphysboro. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

Anderson said Wright-Way is run on the hard work of more than 300 volunteers and paid staff members.  

She said people can contribute to that hard work in a number of ways, including training and grooming animals, fostering animals, interning and joining their professional board.

One of Wright-Way’s long-standing volunteers contributes her time in a different way; she opens up her home to animals as a foster owner.

Desoto-native Pam Eaton, 68, has been fostering animals for Wright-Way since 2011.

Her first foster experience was with a litter of chihuahuas and their mother. She said it was a lot of fun to have them, and it wasn’t easy giving them up.

“I cried so hard that they finally handed me a roll of paper towels,” Eaton said.

She said she loves all of the dogs she has fostered, and some are harder than others to see them go, but she knows she has to make room for others that need her.

“Especially if it’s a single or an orphan puppy that you’ve had to raise by hand, those are often really difficult to give up,” Eaton said.

She said she would would recommend fostering for many reasons, one of the most important being that it simply helps these animals stay alive.

“It’s hard to say goodbye. It’s hard to see them go,” she said. “But it’s even sadder to see them die.”

To learn more about Wright-Way Rescue or to browse the animals they have available for adoption, visit their website http://wright-wayrescue.org/.

Tierra Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] or @tierramc_.

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