By Jean Cole
For a mere 46 cents, the United States Postal Service can get a letter to your grandmother in Alaska in just a few days. Pretty impressive, no matter what the critics think.
Still, the post office does make the occasional mistake as an Athens couple recently learned.
Mary Ann Faulkner and her husband, Arthur, created the Teton Transfer Fund in 2009 in honor of their dog, Teton. The fund allows local shelters to prepare and transport to caring homes in other states animals that are scheduled to be euthanized.
“Every dollar you contribute is spent only on these pets so that every pet transported will have a forever home,” Mary Ann said.
Since the fund was established nearly four years ago, the address to which donors can mail tax-deductible donation checks has remained the same:
Teton Transport Fund
P.O. Box 842
Athens, AL 35612
(Donations are also accepted online at www.tetontransportfund.com, clicking on “Donations” and “Pay Pal”)
The postal snag
Recently, a donor told Pricilla Blenkinsopp, director of the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter, that she had tried to mail a donation check to the Teton Fund but the post office had returned her letter as undeliverable.
The news dismayed Mary Ann because the Teton operation survives only through donations and through volunteers who drive the pets all or part of the way to their new homes.
After consulting with the post office, Mary Ann learned her post office box account had come up for renewal and was closed because she did not pay.
“They did not inform us it was due, so it just closed,” she said.
Despite the confusion, the Teton Fund’s Post Office box was reopened and remains the same as before — 842.
“Anyone who had checks returned in April, please send them again,” Mary Ann said. “We need every penny to transport these helpless pets. Folks can just peel off the yellow tab on the returned envelope and resend it.”
Since its inception, The Teton Transport has successfully placed many pets that were due to be euthanized at the local shelter. Among them, Dakota the dog, whose hind leg had to be amputated after his angry owner threw him from a camper and broke his leg. Today, the mixed-breed dog tossed from an Alabama trailer is now living the high life in upstate New York, thanks to the Teton Fund.
More recently, five Beagle pups were dumped outside the shelter on a cold, rainy night with a note attached that read: DO NOT WANT THEM, said volunteer Suzanne Carter.
The 4-to-5-week-old pups were taken into a foster home and, shortly thereafter, sent to the “Forever Home Beagle Rescue” in Pennsylvania.
The puppies were adopted even before they arrived, Carter said. Their mother, Gloria, found a home there later, too.
The Teton Fund paid for their preparation and transportation.
More dogs’ before-and-after transport photos are available on Facebook at Teton Transport Fund.
Public’s help needed
Although the transport is working, it needs feeding with money and volunteers on a regular basis.
“This project is working 100 percent and, with our community behind it, it will get stronger and stronger,” Mary Ann said. “The more donations to the fund, the more pets get good, caring homes. Without us, they have no chance at all.”
Every pet transported by Teton must first be vaccinated and either spayed or neutered, all of which costs $150 per pet, Mary Ann said. Transportation costs vary from $90 to $150 per pet, depending on where they have to go, she said.
“Rest assured, every dollar goes to veterinary care and transport,” Mary Ann said.
Every pet transported depends on volunteers willing to drive them all or part of the way to their new hometowns and states. More volunteer are needed to drive and fill other rolls such as helping at the shelter or fostering one or more pets for two weeks. If you want to help, call Blenkinsopp at the Athens shelter at 256-771-7889.
“This Teton Transport Fund is on-going since more pets are taken into the shelter every day.” Mary Ann said. “Please don’t wait, the pets can’t.”