I hadn’t thought of myself as a Chihuahua person until little Joey wrapped his paws around my hand and happily licked at me. That was all it took while I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristine Piu at her home in Beachwood, New Jersey.
Joey is one of her three forever dogs. But Kristine has rescued and fostered up to three more at a time, and she’s been helping dogs for years. Born in Georgia, and raised in an animal loving family, she has rescued all kinds of animals, even hermit crabs. She is part of a truly sincere rescue operation. I am inspired by her compassion as well as her stamina.
They’re all high kill down south… Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia. They are all high kill shelters. Unless rescues step up… -KP
Sue: Who is in charge of getting the dogs up here (to NJ)?
Kris: Basically, myself and my friend who runs the rescue. They have listings on Facebook just for rescues – to put holds and promises to rescue on them. Then some people who don’t even live in those states will step up and get people to donate toward their pull fee. The pull fee includes spaying and neutering, shots, and micro-chipping. They do deworm them, but they usually have Kennel Cough. They need to be dewormed a couple times.
Sue: How do the dogs come up?
Kris: They come up by transport. We have to pay transport fees too. It’s a lot more than the cost of the pull fee.
Sue: Once you take responsibility for a dog, do the costs come out of your pocket?
Kris: Because we don’t get enough donations, it’s out of our pocket.
Sue: What should people do if they want to donate?
Kris: One thing that would really help is if they went straight to the vet we use because we have a high balance.
Sue: What is the most common cause of dogs ending up in shelters?
Kris: They’re strays. Down south, people dump them off in the woods – especially hunting dogs that are no good to them because they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do. And, they can’t afford to spay or neuter down there because of the poverty. They just have puppies after puppies… Here (in NJ), the ones we take that are owner turn-ins, the people either are having a baby, or the owner died, or people don’t want them anymore.
Once they learn that they can trust people and the touch of a person… Its amazing. -KP
Sue: How do you handle training and preparing them for adoption?
Kris: Lori and I have a lot of experience in dog training and housebreaking. So we do that ourselves.
(Lori Phillips is the founder of New Beginnings Pet Rescue.)
We know the dog before we adopt the dog out.-KP
Sue: How do you determine what type of family is best?
Kris: We are actually a 501C3 rescue. We’re on Petfinder. Our website is linked to it. So, we put up their biographies… if they’re good with kids, no kids, no cats, no dogs, if there must be another dog. Some dogs do best in a pack situation. We 100% test them for the ideal situation.
Sue: How does the family (including children) react when a new dog comes in?
Kris: They completely understand that we take in fosters. They can help, and they can teach them. And when the dog goes to a new family… There have been a couple times when there have been tears. There have been a couple they really bonded with and really loved, but they understand.
We do not want…that dog to get kicked to the curb.-KP
Sue: Tell about the adoption process. What can people expect?
Kris: We never let a dog go unless it’s spayed or neutered. Never. They are always up to date on their shots and treated for fleas.
We do home checks. There are people who would say they have a five foot fence. But when we get to the home, there’s no fence.
If people rent a home, we need to contact the landlord to make sure they can have a dog. We bring the (wanted) dog with us to do the home check, to see how the dog interacts within the home. We have left with dogs when we weren’t comfortable leaving them there. Most of the time, we leave the dog because everything looks great. We always do vet checks to make sure the existing animals in the home have been spayed and neutered and are up to date on shots.
Sue: Do you get updates from the adoptive families?
Kris: Absolutely! (Kris reflects on a story about an adopted dog who recently passed away.) Journey, a Great Dane, came with eleven one-day-old puppies. We bottle fed to supplement for the mother. A bedroom was dedicated to them.
That was the biggest (rescue) we’ve ever taken on. But it didn’t matter because they were going to be put to sleep the next day.-KP
Sue: What help do you have with the big endeavors, such as ones like Journey?
Kris: I usually do the long transports myself; my daughter came one time. My husband and I went to Tennessee by ourselves seven or so years ago. I brought three dog crates with me. There was a shelter… a really bad and poor one, the worst in the United States. (Kristine likened it to Schindler’s List.) I told my husband, “I’d like to pull some dogs.” We took home 3 dogs. There was the worst stench in the world you could imagine. We drove home for 12 hours, only stopping to walk the dogs. They turned out to be really good dogs. I fostered the three, and they all got adopted.
Sue: How do you go into a situation, like that shelter?
Kris: It’s very… You have to go in and suck it up. Act like a grown up as much as you can until you get out of the building.
It’s my passion. So that’s why I do what I do and why I bear the stench.-KP
Sue: How do you choose a dog?
Kris: Body language.
Sue: The most workable you mean?
Kris: With body language you can tell who is going to be “vicious”, who is docile, who is not really alpha, and who is submissive… We don’t go by looks, big or small, prettiest or ugliest. You know, how some people only want a pretty dog. A lot of dogs will bark and seem vicious in the shelter because they’re scared. They’ve had seven dogs crammed in a kennel… That’s crazy.
It’s hard to choose, but you just have to know what you’re doing.-KP
Kris: There was a case years ago. I met transport and came home with puppies that were loaded with dog lice – to the point that you could hear them crunching. People ask, “Why don’t you pull from around here?” Our dogs (in NJ) are treated well. People think they (NJ shelters) are disgusting. But go down south. You’ll have a whole new respect. And their way of putting dogs to sleep isn’t like here with a shot. They put them all in a room and gas them. They’ll pile 30-40 dogs in a room and turn on the gas.
(Kristine talks about the frequent posts on Lost Dogs of Ocean County.)
Sue: What advice would you give to others as far as prevention?
Kris: Properly inspect your yard. Make sure there are no holes under the fence. I have a 6” small chain link fence. There’s steel wire at the bottom, so they can’t push out. I realize not everyone can do that, but supervise your dog. If you know your dog is a runner, supervise it. Don’t pile things they can climb, like wood, against the fence. Have an ID tag on the collar. Microchip. Keep dogs on a leash when out for a walk.
If you would like to send a donation, Kristine requests that you help New Beginnings Pet Rescue with their veterinary bills by contacting Barnegat Animal Clinic at 609-698-2142. Ask to donate toward their balance.