Ashland’s no-kill shelter BARK gives homes to dogs and hope to inmates
“I think it’s a great way to give back and make a difference and actually see the difference that you make,” said Claire Tetrick, a volunteer and member of the board of director’s for Bandit’s Adoption and Rescue of K-9’s – BARK for short. “And honestly it’s fun. Who doesn’t like playing with dogs?”
Tetrick is one of many volunteers at BARK, a non-profit dog rescue organization. It is based on a 90-acre farm in Ashland, Virginia and licensed to hold up to 125 dogs.
Bob Tillick, the founder of Bark, started picking up dogs he would find on the street and taking them to shelters. Now, his organization rescues anywhere from 5 to 700 dogs in a year.
BARK takes in dogs regardless of breed or age, and they either get adopted or live out their life on the farm.
“We take the dogs that other people don’t take,” Tetrick said. “And it’s also really nice because part of our adoption contract requires the adopters to bring the dogs back to BARK if they’re unable to care for them at any point.
BARK has adoption clinics every week and events like Pups on the Patio, where they take dogs to Bar Louie for more exposure.
Bob Adams, a volunteer who also serves on the board of directors, said the goal of this organization is simply to find dogs homes.
“Every time we have an adoption fair we see 8, 10, 15 dogs going home to families, becoming parts of those families that never would have been exposed to that animal before,” Adams said. “We don’t try to be the dogs’ home, we just try and get them re-homed.”
BARK has its own trainers for dogs with behavioral issues and a clinic to take care of their medical needs.
The Jessica Beath Clinic performs low cost spay and neuter surgeries for dogs and cats to the public and provides BARK with any medical services they needs for their animals.
The most unique aspect to this rescue organization is its prison program. BARK currently has contracts Green Rock and Lawrenceville correctional centers to provide dogs to certain inmates as an opportunity to reward the offender and train the dogs for their future owner.
According to Adams, two inmates live with one dog in their cell for 90-day periods.
“When we go down to the prisons, everybody, every inmate, staff member, they know it and they look forward to it,” Adams said. “So while it’s a small group of people that’s actually handling the dogs, everybody in the whole program knows about it and it drops the stress level of these prisons down tremendously.”
This program is mutually beneficial and very successful, as every dog that goes through the prison program gets adopted. Adams said they hope to expand to other prisons in the area. He still remembers the first time he went to a graduation ceremony for the prison-training program and heard an offender speak.
“He said I’ve been here for many, many years and I had totally forgotten what it was like to be a human being until a dog came back into my life,” Adams said. “He had worked with a couple of dogs training and he said I now know what it’s like to have experiences of emotions again and I didn’t have that before. To hear stories like that and just know that the programs like that are doing more than for just the animals.”
You can get involved with BARK here.
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