MatchDog Rescue saving dogs from a ‘ruff’ situation in Texas

MatchDog Rescue is currently seeking volunteers and fosters throughout South Jersey.

Special to the Sun: MatchDog Rescue unites families at a recent adoption event. A family meets their new dog that was transported from Texas.

Nearly a year ago, Moorestown resident Kerry Morlino was on Facebook when she saw a friend’s post about a small dog in Texas that had been rescued from flooding and was being held in a high-kill shelter. As a result of the flooding, shelters were being inundated with animals they didn’t have room for, and dogs who would usually get to spend one day in the shelter were being euthanized immediately. Morlino said she felt compelled to help.

She started with the small dog she had seen on Facebook and made it her mission to get the dog out of the shelter. Morlino found a foster in Texas before having the dog transported to New Jersey, and things spiralled from there. She learned many shelters in Texas near the Mexican border were in being inundated with dogs they didn’t have room for, and she wanted to find a way to rescue these animals. Today, her Moorestown-based nonprofit MatchDog Rescue has brought more than 300 dogs to New Jersey from Texas that otherwise would have been euthanized.

Morlino said shelters in the New Jersey area often pull dogs from the Carolinas because transporting dogs from Texas is more expensive. With some research, Morlino discovered veterinarian expenses are considerably cheaper in Texas than New Jersey. She figured out that if she could establish a network of fosters in Texas to get dogs to the vet, the difference in vet expenses would enable her to finance the cost of transport.

Photo courtesy of MatchDog Rescue.

At the end of last summer, Mt. Laurel resident Emily Trost met Morlino at a rescue expo. She said Morlino had the name, a logo and a vision for the rescue, and Trost was eager to jump on board. Today, Trost is MatchDog’s vice president.

The pair utilized Facebook to find their Texas fosters. Trost said once they had their network, they began scouring shelters. Once posted to a shelter’s adoption list, a dog typically has between one and three days to get adopted before it is euthanized. She said one of the shelters they work with euthanizes more than 100 dogs a day as a result of overpopulation issues.

“We saw how terribly desperate they are down there,” Trost said.

Trost said their fosters pick up the dogs, and the dogs stay in Texas for two weeks to get all of their shots and medical treatment before transport. Once the dogs are cleared as healthy, they’re loaded on a transport truck, which they spend between two and four days on.

The adoption fee which ranges between $350 and $485 covers the nonprofit’s cost of transport, immunizations, spay and neutering, microchipping and one month of free pet insurance. As soon as the dogs arrive, they receive a free wellness check. Morlino said through partnerships with Mount Laurel Animal Hospital and Burl-Moor-Driben Animal Hospital in Moorestown, which offer their services at a discounted rate, they’re also able to put more money toward transport costs.

Photo courtesy of MatchDog Rescue.

MatchDog Rescue has also recently partnered with PetSmart in Marlton where the transport arrives. Morlino said the adopters are usually lined up by the time the dogs arrive, and so, they make an event of it when the dogs reach New Jersey. As they are unloaded, the dog’s name is called out and the adoptive family comes forward to meet their new family member. Morlino said there are often tears of joy and clapping as each dog is handed off.

For dogs who are in need of more medical attention, MatchDog will start a GoFundMe page. Morlino said they fundraised for a dog with a broken back and found that people are often more than willing to help. At PetSmart, they also have a section where customers can drop off food donations for them.

Morlino said MatchDog is always looking for fosters, and for students, they offer 10 volunteer hours a day for fostering. Anyone throughout South Jersey is welcome to foster or volunteer with the organization. She said from the individuals who put the dogs on Petfinder to their members who gather supplies, their volunteer team is what keeps the nonprofit running.

“Volunteers are everything to us,” Morlino said. “We’re nothing without volunteers.”

To adopt, foster or volunteer with MatchDog Rescue, visit http://matchdogrescue.org.