Rescue saves lives one tail at a time

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Between Rutledge and Luverne, a devoted cadre of volunteers can be found busily making a significant impact on the lives of numerous animals. In 2022 alone, Animal Tails Rescue (ATR) faced the daunting task of rescuing over 800 animals, underscoring their pivotal role in the local community. 

The rescue is a nonprofit organization relying on the unwavering dedication of its volunteers and generous financial support from the local community, as well as the donation of essential items. 

According to organizers, the City of Luverne covers the electric bill, and the City of Rutledge shoulders the water bill, acts of benevolence that are deeply appreciated  along with the generous assistance they receive from the county. 

However, even with these contributions, the cost of fully vetting and spaying or neutering every animal before they find their forever homes presents an ongoing financial challenge.

“All of the expenses add up quickly,” said Animal Tails Rescue President Kim Kent. “It takes a lot of dog and cat food to feed all the animals we rescue and each and every animal is fully vetted. If we get a sick or unhealthy animal, we do what it takes, and keep them as long as it takes, to get them well before they leave. If they have heartworms, we take care of that too. We absolutely could not do this without the support and assistance from the community.”

While ATR facilitates cat and kitten adoptions, they do not directly handle dog adoptions but rather collaborate with other organizations to ensure these canine companions find loving forever homes.

One of the highlights of ATR’s work is their partnership with Alabama Rescue Relay (ARR). Twice a month, volunteers collaborate with this group to orchestrate the transportation of rescued dogs to Arrow’s Heart Rescue, a large, well-equipped facility in Minnesota that is dedicated to adoptions. 

On Aug. 11, ARR volunteer driver Kevin Ray embarked on a journey from his hometown of Clanton, in a panel van donated for use by Animal Savers of Pell City, Inc., to the rescue in Luverne. Ray picked up 17 dogs ready for their new adventure. Three other rescues, Finding Forever Dog and Cat Rescue out of Opp, Operation Favor out of Orange Beach, and The Greenville Animal Shelter, also convened in Luverne to send dogs, with a total of around 40 loaded into individual cages that had water available.

According to Ray, who has volunteered with ARR for nine years, these journeys are not just a mere transportation of dogs; they are a lifeline for these precious pound pups.

“I hate the issues with overpopulation, but I am happy to be involved with finding these animals their forever homes and making sure they avoid euthanasia,” Ray said. “Fighting rings are sometimes involved, and a lot of rescues in Alabama with no local funding struggle with the logistics of rescuing these animals that are, to no fault of their own, aggressive or dangerous.”Last Friday, another edition of these heartwarming bimonthly transports,  sent 14 more dogs on their journey. The trip from Alabama to Minnesota is a meticulously planned effort, with stops in Clanton to collect more dogs and a continuation to Deerfield, Illinois. 

At each stop, a new driver comes on board, crates are cleaned, and the dogs have the chance to stretch their legs, eat, use the bathroom and hydrate fully. And when the dogs arrive at Arrow’s Heart Rescue, they find the promise of a better life and are soon adopted into their forever homes.

Minnesota and its neighboring states have stringent animal control laws that prioritize responsible pet ownership, including licensing for all pet owners and spaying/neutering requirements.  Local funding in these northern states allows for paid animal control officers to ensure compliance and address animal-related issues, collectively making it possible for rescues in the region to ensure each dog finds a safe and loving home.

Stringent adoption processes, including home checks and background and veterinarian reference checks, ensure these dogs are placed in the best possible environment.”We are thrilled for their second chance at happiness,” Kent said. “But we need your help with transport expenses and operational expenses. There is simply no way we could do what we do without donations. Monetary donations can be made on our website, which will cover health certificates, gas, and crate fees charged by the rescue in Minnesota and for supplies or food. While we will still have many dogs at the rescue, every time we can do a transport, it frees up space for us to help more animals.”

Animal Tails Rescue abstains from euthanasia and is in constant need of dog food, puppy food, bleach, cat litter, cat food, kitten food, laundry detergent and Dawn dishwashing liquid donations. 

Individuals  interested in adopting a cat or kitten, donating or volunteering, can visit Animal Tails at 408 Lee Street in Luverne or call 334-508-2027 or 334-429-1251.

Financial donations can be made at