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Pets look for a second chance

Enjoying an hour of sunny reprieve from their shared kennel at the Southern Oregon Humane Society last week, a pair of canine pals named Jazz and Bruno shamelessly begged treats from volunteers and spent some time wandering a grassy play yard.

Dubbed "tougher to place," the canine pair, both far from dainty and well into middle age, were surrendered days before Christmas after their former owner's home was lost in foreclosure.

The dog's résumés suggest a long wait for adoption. But Medford resident Jennifer Bynum hopes she can help change that by raising $4,000 to reduce fees that would entice potential adopters to take a chance on dogs like Jazz and Bruno.

While affectionate and easy-going in the play yard, neither Jazz, a 6-year-old Australian shepherd-great Dane cross, nor Bruno, a 7-year-old Shepherd-malamute mix, appear as eager and friendly from behind their kennel door.

Aside from being bigger and older, the pair have another potential strike against them.

"They came in together, and they've probably been together most of their lives, so we really want to try to find them a home where they can be together," he said.

"Trying to find a home for a bigger, older dog is tough. Finding a home for two of them to stay together is next to impossible. So we're struggling with the decision of do we split them up now and get them used to life without each other or do we hold out a little bit longer?"

In addition to larger dogs and older pets in general, Altine said pit bulls, tan Chihuahuas and black cats round out the list of pets that can be difficult for the Table Rock Road shelter to adopt out.

At the Jackson County Animal Shelter along Highway 99, shelter manager Barbara Talbert says there's no doubt that pit bulls are the most difficult dogs to place for her operation.

Bynum has set up a donation website (www.petcaring.com/unlikelytoplacefundraiser) and plans to distribute funds to the pair of shelters as needed.

While she acknowledges a lot of local families face financial struggles, Bynum said small contributions are as important as larger donations when it comes to tackling issues such as pet overpopulation and families who cannot keep their beloved pets.

"It's so frustrating because so many people hear these sad stories and they're like, 'Oh, that's horrible. I can't believe that,' but no one tries to help the situation," Bynum said. "A lot of people can't do a lot but everyone can do a little, and it adds up."

While the Humane Society plans to use the funds with discretion to encourage placement for longtime residents or potential difficult placements, Talbert says the funds likely will go toward ensuring quality placements for their assortment of pit bulls.

"From what I understand, we'll feature some pets at reduced prices using the money from Jennifer and we'll try to find good homes for animals that have been here the longest, which for us are our pit bulls," she said.

Altine, scratching the chin of Bruno on the sunny afternoon, said his shelter would also continue education efforts on the importance of obedience training as well as the myriad benefits of older dogs.

"It's not so much the kind of dog as it is the personality of the dog," he said.

"And with senior dogs, you know what you're getting. You know if they're house broken, if they like children and other dogs or cats, and you have more of a history about the animals. They have a name — and they know their name. And they've most likely have lived with a family before so they know what it means and they're grateful for another chance to have that."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

Jennifer Bynum, left, gives Jazz a hug, while Jessica Cook plays with Bruno at the Southern Oregon Humane Society in Medford. Older, bigger dogs like these can be hard to adopt out, so Bynum is raising money to help make that easier. - Julia Moore