By Hannah Troyer
More than 100 dogs facing almost certain death due to overcrowded shelters could finally find loving homes - just not in Indiana.
The pups will travel all the way to New England to be adopted through New Hampshire and Vermont shelters.
The large group of canines is not the first to make the 2,200-mile journey to find adoptive families - but one lawmaker hopes to change Indiana's law to make it necessary less often.
Since its creation in 2004, the CanINE Express Transport Project has saved 9,300 Indiana dogs from South and Central Indiana from being euthanized.
Cathi Eagan, who collaborates with various individuals and organizations including Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, Indiana Animal Welfare Center, and state Rep. Linda Lawson, founded the project.
It allows states that have an overpopulation of dogs and cats, such as Indiana and other mid-Atlantic states, to give excess strays and shelter animals to states with low animal shelter populations - like New Hampshire and Vermont.
Eagan says the partnership with the 15 New England shelters is a great system.
"That's where they get placed because (those states) have a need for well-socialized and healthy dogs," Eagan said. "It absolutely saves the lives of these animals. We knew if they would stay here they would be killed by the shelters because of no space in the kennels. It's not their fault. There are just too many dogs and cats for the facilities that we have."
The transport partnership also has a huge supporter in Lawson, D-Hammond. Since she went on one of the monthly transport trips a few years ago, Lawson has proposed legislation to create the Indiana Companion Animal Sterilization Fund, which would help reduce the state's pet overpopulation crisis.
The fund would take various amounts of funding from areas across the state to reach the amount needed by spay and neutering organizations. That would allow those facilities to reach more people and the pet population wouldn't increase at the drastic rate it is now.
But Lawson sad she's having trouble finding support from fellow legislators to implement the idea, which she's taken from some of those northeast states that don't have an animal overpopulation problem. She says it's the most logical and cheapest way to solve the state's pet population issue.
The legislation has gone nowhere.
"We spent a lot of time talking to legislators in the Senate and House trying to get them excited or at least listen to us," Lawson said. "It is really hard because we live in an agriculture state and many people don't see a difference between a cow, lamb, chicken and a dog."
Lawson says the only way to get support for her legislation is to continue talking about the issue. She says she has to convince legislators that this will save state and local government money.
As for the pups, their journey was expected to end happily in the northeast.
"After the quarantine period ends, they fly out" the shelter door, Eagan said. The dogs in states "without quarantine periods - like Vermont - are home before I even get back home again, which is amazing."
"It's such a boost to see these animals are going home," Eagan said. "We get messages from the adopters saying how they are so in love with these dogs."
Hannah Troyer is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.