?When Wanda Bailie decided she wanted a Boston terrier, she knew she'd prefer to adopt, rather than buy from a breeder.?
"I wanted to give a home to a dog that needed one," said Bailie, 64, of Cornelius.?
Finally, after a two-year search, she found Suzy, a 7-year-old Boston terrier who inspired her to start rescuing Boston terriers and finding homes for them with people whose hearts were set on the breed.?
"They have personality plus," she said. "They play all their lives."?
Last year, Bailie placed nearly 40 Boston terriers in homes across the state. Rambo, the most recent adoptee, is deaf and will be a service dog for an 18-year-old.?
"People who go to shelters generally don't have a specific type of dog in mind," she said. "They're just going in to see what catches their eye or who they bond with."?
At a small rescue, people can meet dogs in a calmer environment, where they're more likely to act naturally, especially if they're nervous in large groups, Bailie said.?
For other dogs, a shelter is the best chance at becoming healthy.?A few months ago, every step hurt for Zinnia, a small stray poodle with a badly injured leg. Now, as she waits to be adopted from Washington County's Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter, Zinnia gets around with three legs and no pain.
?"She's a sweet, happy animal," said Deborah Wood, Washington County's Animal Services manager. "She'll end up with a great home and be just fine."?
Zinnia is one of about 4,000 animals the shelter helps each year, most of which are placed in homes from Portland to Forest Grove.?
"If they're potentially adoptable, we do everything we can to make that happen," Wood said.?
Still, though, hundreds of animals in shelters and rescues wait for adopters each day. In the winter, Wood said, calls to the Bonnie L. Hays shelter spike.?
"We get a lot more when it's cold," she said. "People become worried about animals they didn't worry about in the summer -- a backyard dog or a cat where someone said, 'That's not my cat, I just feed it.'"?
Aside from strays, the shelter takes in animals rescued from situations of abuse or neglect. Staff and volunteers give medical attention and work on socialization and behavioral issues to help the dogs and cats become adoptable pets.?
When the shelter is full or animals have special needs, Animal Services works with local rescues like Bailie's that help place pets in appropriate homes. For people who are looking for specific breeds -- and for dogs that don't thrive in a shelter environment -- a rescue can work better.?
While the Bonnie L. Hays shelter works mainly with stray animals, Bailie often receives dogs that have been given up by their owners.?
"Some people think they're 'just animals' -- a throwaway item," she said. "But to me, they're like my kids."?
Wood said that while the number of homeless pets has decreased as a result of a nationwide push for spaying and neutering, shelters and rescues always need adopters to provide loving homes.?
"Often this shelter is the best place these animals have ever been," Wood said. "But then when they get adopted, it's a whole new level they can't even imagine."?