written by Ginny Cooper McCarley photographed by Jordan Evans
A new nonprofit organization finds homes for unwanted dogs and cats.
Sixty-eight yapping puppies and eight kittens, all snuggled in small carriers, were loaded up on a brisk Saturday afternoon, bound for new homes in northern Virginia thanks to the efforts of the Mississippi Underdog Transport Team. Mississippi MUTTS is a nonprofit founded by Katie Muldoon to help ease the problem of overcrowding in local animal shelters. The organization facilitates the rescue, foster, transport and adoption of animals from all over the state. Since its launch in mid-August, Mississippi MUTTS has saved the lives of nearly 400 dogs and cats.
Muldoon, a feisty and driven law school graduate, has always had a desire to help animals. During her time as a student at the University of Mississippi School of Law, she served as a board member and adoption counselor at the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society and started a local chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. She also interned for both the ASPCA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. Though she enjoyed her work on Capitol Hill, Muldoon decided to come back to Oxford, where the need was greatest. “I realized that Mississippi is really where
I needed to be,” Muldoon said. “There were literally lives being lost in the time being, so I just looked at the situation and thought, why not now.” Younger animals are more susceptible to the diseases rampant in crowded shelters, and therefore are more likely to have to be euthanized. Muldoon’s idea was to bypass the shelter and send these youngsters directly to foster or forever homes, saving lives and freeing up valuable space and resources for other animals. A small group of volunteers handles the daily operation of the organization and helps with transportation efforts. Volunteer Tamara
Above: A pen full of puppies wait their turn to be loaded into carriers and transported to foster families in Virginia. Shelters there have far fewer young animals up for adoption, so the demand for puppies and kittens is greater.
32 INVITATION OXFORD | February 2018