Easy Street Animal Shelter

Nov 9, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Diana Hockley

by Diana Hockley

KRL enjoys featuring animal rescues all over the world. This week our writer Diana Hockley is interviewing Cindy Castle from Easy Street Animal Shelter in north Texas.

KRL: Rescuing animals is a labor of love and total dedication. What was the catalyst for the creation of Easy Street Animal Shelter come into being, and is there more Easy Street Animal Shelter? Who came up with the name, which is usually associated with “easy” events, rather than the sheer hard work of rescuing animals?

animal rescue

Easy Street rescue

Cindy: Easy Street Animal Shelter is located in a small, rural community (population 1000) in a large county, (but small population less than 20,000 people) in north Texas. The shelter was the idea of a local veterinarian, Sharon Gaston, and she worked very hard to help plan an organize the idea starting in 2004. After an accident in 2005, Dr Gaston was not able to continue the work and it was in 2013 when concerned citizens picked up where she had left off and were able to open in the fall of 2014. The name was devised to show the offer of a better life would begin at “Easy Street”. The city where we located once had a holding area for animals that were captured in the city limits and we moved to that land and rent the property for $1 a year.

KRL: How did you personally get involved?

Cindy: I moved to the area in the fall of 2014, shortly after the shelter was opened. I had retired from teaching in New Mexico and had moved with my husband and all our animals (dog, cats, horses, cows) to be near our grandchildren. I went to an awareness walk for the shelter on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and offered to help. I started taking a morning shift (2-3 hours) twice a week. I joined the board of directors in June of 2015 and began serving as President in January of 2016. I am still a regular volunteer (3-4 shifts a week) and love sharing the story of Easy Street.

KRL: What sort of set-up do you have? Is it a private house, a shed, or a purpose-built complex?

Cindy: We have a portable building we use as an office/laundry and our shelter has an enclosed building with 12 kennels. We have an additional pod of four kennels that we use for overflow. We also use crates or portable kennels in our building for small dogs or puppies. We currently have a small building under construction that will be our intake building when animals come into our facility. They will be housed there while we wait to have them vaccinated and be assured that they are healthy before putting them into the main building. There are three indoor/outdoor kennels with one oversized kennel for mommas and puppies and a large stainless steel, walk in bathtub. We are currently working on names for the building and plan to name it, in honor of, Dr. Gaston.

KRL: How many animals can you accommodate, and do you get many babies?

Cindy: We have 16 kennels but have had up to 32 dogs at our facility. We did this by doubling up on dogs who had come in together and had a mother dog with her eight puppies in the office building in a portable kennel. Our kennels are large enough for multiple dogs, but we like them to have plenty of room, and usually keep our numbers at one per kennel. During this particular time, we knew we would be transporting a number of dogs to other states and felt we needed to make the room to prevent four dogs from a neighboring community from being euthanized.

KRL: All rescues are special, but do you have a story about a rescue which might have been dramatic or outstanding in some way?

Cindy: We recently participated in a rescue of dogs from an abandonment/hoarding situation. Twenty-nine dogs had been left for five days before the landlords discovered them. Large rescue groups from the Dallas/Fort Worth area started gathering dogs and pleas went out help. Two of our volunteers went down on day two of the rescue and were able to catch six dogs and bring them back to our facility.

KRL: Have you been involved in a hoarder, dog fighting rescue or puppy/kitten mill situation?

Cindy: Another situation we helped with was a dreadful puppy mill situation where hundreds of dogs were on the property and the owners were releasing dogs on the property and using them for target practice. We were not at this rescue, it was in east central Texas but in that instance, we took in four puppies, all varying ages, and different litters, all had been discovered in the woods at the edge of the property, hiding for their lives. We were not at this rescue, it was in east-central Texas, but we took we also took in an older puppy-mill mother dog who was no longer producing. She went to a foster home the first night and it is believed that she had never touched grass before that time.

KRL: Are you a registered charity for rescue or tax exemption purposes?

Cindy: We are a 501(c)3 Non-Profit and all donations are tax deductible.

KRL: Do the local authorities support you?

Cindy: The small town, where we are located, does not have a municipal shelter, so we take animals who are captured/abandoned in the area. We also take in animals from another small community that does not have a shelter. The community leaders are very supportive!

KRL: How does the local community regard your activities and are they supportive in adoption and/or monetary terms?

Cindy: We get good support from our local community. We have supporters who are individuals, businesses and have a coalition of non-profits that have an online giving day each year. Our local chamber of commerce partners with us to hold a 5K each year and we split the proceeds. The neighboring community’s chamber of commerce works with us during their annual Oktoberfest celebration and we run a Dachshund Race and the proceeds go to our shelter.

KRL: Do you have opportunities to visit schools to educate children in animal welfare or to have Open Days where people can come to see your work?

Cindy: We are open to the public each Saturday morning but make appointments most any day. We have great support from the local schools as they do a fundraiser for us each year and we have visited the school and talked to them about the shelter and have had school groups come to the facility to help with work/clean up. We also partner with the high school work program and have 3-4 students, along with their teacher/aide come to the shelter 3 times a week and do the daily feeding, cleaning, and exercising of the dogs. We recently joined with a local animal refuge and do a weekly library program where we take dogs into the local public library and let the kids “read” to the dogs or sit with the dogs, while being read to. We also have a weekly article printed in the local newspaper. The topics range from training tips, stories from the shelter and most any topic relating to dogs. We have had local scout groups visit and volunteer at the shelter.

KRL: Do you have many volunteers and foster homes and how do you recruit them?

Cindy: Over the years, we have had an average 12-15 volunteers who cover the shifts. We have had close to 100 different volunteers work with us over the years.

We have volunteers at the shelter twice a day for 2-3 hours each time. We recruit volunteers through word of mouth, the local newspapers, the schools, or community groups and we often get new volunteers after they adopt from us! Many of our foster families started out as volunteers and other fosters contacted us after seeing a plea in the paper or social media.

KRL: Rescues depend on donations from the public – do you charge a small fee for your animals when they are adopted? And do you have PayPal and credit card facilities?

Cindy: We accept owner surrendered animals on a space available basis and we charge a small fee for drop off. Our adoption fee is $75 and all of our animals are vaccinated, heartworm tested, spayed or neutered and micro chipped before we adopt them out. We also have donation containers at local businesses.

We do have a Pay Pal account as well as an account through Network for Good, so we are able to get donations through Facebook. We accept credit cards for adoption fees, donations, or purchasing of our t-shirts, bags, or keychains.

KRL: How hard is it to get your precious charges adopted? Do you have any agreement with local pet shops to adopt out of their premises?

Cindy: Since opening our doors, we have taken in over 400 dogs. We have successfully adopted out over 200 dogs from our facility. In order to get extra exposure we attend area community events, take our dogs to feed stores for adoption events, have our dogs listed on the web sites: Petfinder.com, Adopt-A-Pet, How I Met My Dog, and have a presence on social media. We also work with a group of shelters in north Texas and a coordinator in Minnesota who helps us to transport dogs from our area to states who have a shortage of adoptable dogs. We have successfully sent over 150 dogs to those areas and they are adopted out within a week or two, of arrival.

KRL: What are the special challenges to rescuing dumped animals as opposed to surrendered pets?

Cindy: One of the issues with rescuing dumped dogs is the lack of information we have about the animal. Many abandoned dogs might have health or behavior issues that we will not know until we have problems. Since we are in a rural area, we have many lost or abandoned dogs reported or brought to us, and we do however have a supportive group of citizens who will help bring the animals in to our facility. Our part of the country has a huge problem with heartworms, a deadly disease passed by mosquitoes. It is very costly to treat, but we do treat all of our animals before putting them up for adoption.

KRL: How many animals do you think you have saved so far, adopted out or have permanently in your care?

Cindy: We have successfully adopted just over 200 dogs. We have also transported 150 and have reunited 25 dogs with their families. We currently have 19 dogs with the longest resident coming to us in January of this year. We will be working to get

KRL: Have you any fundraising or adoption events coming up and would you like to give the details?

Cindy: We will be having a shelter awareness walk the Saturday before Thanksgiving where we invite citizens to bring their dogs to the town square and we organize a walk around town. We were recently approached by a car group from an area metropolitan area, they have chosen us as recipients of their yearly, national fundraiser. We are in the planning stages but look forward to the new relationship of community minded citizens.

KRL: Do local vet surgeries help in any way?

Cindy: We are lucky to have a very supportive veterinary clinic in our small town. It was originally owned by the vet who began the shelter planning and was purchased by a large practice from a nearby city. They have continued to do work for us at cost and do not charge us for labor. This is a lifesaver for our small shelter, because we fully vet all of our animals before the dogs are adopted out.

KRL: Does the nearest ASPCA help if they can? Do other shelters assist?

Cindy: We have not received or asked for help from the ASPCA, but we do have a number of area shelters and rescues that work closely with us. We attend events together and we help each other if one shelter is full and another has space. We also work together to transport dogs to other states.

KRL: What would be your most urgent needs right now and how can people help?

Cindy: As with any shelter, we are always in need of funds or supplies. We have a monthly operation budget of $2300 and are constantly working to raise operating funds in addition to funding for special projects. Exposure is always good. We can always use more volunteers and having ways to get that message out is always a bonus. As a small, rural shelter, we have a limited funds for advertising and limited followers, but over the past 6 months, thanks to working with other groups from the metroplex area, we have had information shared about us and have been invited to their larger events.

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add to this?

Cindy: We are a dedicated group and continue to do everything we can for animals who need us. We appreciate any exposure that helps spread the word that we are working to make the lives of homeless dogs better.

KRL: What are your website URL, FB, Twitter, email and phone number?

Cindy: Website: www.esashelter.org
Facebook: facebook.com/easystreetanimalshelter
Email: esashelter@yahoo[dot]com
Phone: 505-320-6119

KRL: The mission statement for your rescue:

Cindy: Our mission statement:
Provide care for homeless dogs, until rehomed.
Our Vision:
A community where every dog thrives in a safe and loving home.

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section & watch for more stories from Feral Paws every other month, and we would love to have you join our KRL Pets Facebook group. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Valley Animal Center.

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Diana Hockley is an Australian mystery author who lives in a southeast Queensland country town. She is the devoted slave of five ratties & usually finds an excuse to mention them in her writing, including her recent novel, The Naked Room. Since retiring from running a traveling mouse circus for 10 years, she is now the mouse judge for the Queensland Rat & Mouse Club shows. To learn more, check out her website.


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