Website gives dogs on death row last chance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2007, 12:00am

Sweet William, a young black Labrador retriever in Illinois, has one day to live. Sandy, a golden female Korean Jindo in New York, also has just one day to live. Kate Hepburn, a female Boxer in California, has 17 days to live.

These were some of the dogs in shelters across the United States slated for death yesterday - their fate was posted on a new website that aims to save their lives by offering them for adoption.

Each is tagged with a death date set by a shelter - and a countdown clock showing the days, or hours, until the animal is killed. works with more than 120 shelters nationwide that destroy dogs. How much time the dogs get before death varies from state to state. In New York City, a stray must be kept for a minimum of three days, although a shelter has the legal right to immediately destroy an animal that is left there by its owner.

About 4 million dogs are put to death each year in the US.

In the three weeks since the site has been up, dozens of dogs have found new homes. Their photos are posted on a section of the site marked 'Success Stories'. Pictures of dogs that did not make it adorn the site's 'In Memoriam' wall.

'It's not the fault of the shelters,' said Alex Aliksanyan, a pet adoption advocate who made money in the internet travel business. 'They don't like doing this, but they have to abide by the law, which requires a shelter to control its animal population.'

Mr Aliksanyan spent US$500,000 starting The Buddy Fund Inc, a non-profit organisation that operates the site and is named after his miniature American Eskimo dog.

'I've done well, and it was time to give something back,' said the 50-year-old Turkish-born entrepreneur of Armenian heritage. 'So I thought, let's bring the story of these animals dying quietly in these shelters to the public and say, 'Can you do something?''

The adoption service is free both for shelters and people looking for pets, allowing users to search by location, breed or time until death.