When Corinne Hopkins moved to Erath County from the Metroplex four years ago, the animal advocate saw an immediate need.

Hopkins said despite the fact that she had moved from the city to a more wide-open area heavily populated by animals, she could not find a single animal rescue group in the county.

"That is why we are so desperately needed," Hopkins said, referring to the recently incorporated Cross Timbers Animal Guardian Society (CTAGS).

After speaking with other animal advocates concerned about the high number of dogs and cats abandoned and euthanized, the group began to take shape last August.

Hopkins serves as CTAGS board president along with three other board members, who are working to rally other advocates to join in their multi-fold mission of educating the public on the importance of spaying and neutering, providing low-cost services to pet owners and rescuing orphaned and abandoned animals.

The group has already hosted a few events in Erath County, including a low-cost spay and neuter clinic and adoption events that have proven successful. CTAGS animals are also presented to animal lovers around the world at petfinders.com.

Adopting from CTAGS

When the organization places an animal with a permanent home, the dog or cat has already undergone a barrage of tests and treatments aimed at ensuring it is ready to become a part of the family.

According to board member Patricia Kicyla, the animals have been spayed or neutered, tested for disease and heart worms and given basic booster vaccinations and worm preventatives. She said cats undergo leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus testing.

"We will even clean teeth, mend broken bones and treat mange when needed," Hopkins said.

CTAGS also offers something special to the families who adopt a new pet. Since the organization does not yet have a shelter, it relies on foster families who care for the animals until a permanent family is identified.

"The foster families keep the animals until we find them an appropriate home," Hopkins said. "Through those foster families, we get to know the animals and how they will be as a pet, how they react to other dogs and cats and how they act toward children."

Dr. Joe E. Cannon, DVM - who grew up in Dublin, attended Tarleton State University and operates a mobile veterinary service - is also a member of the board. He provides the organization with a bulk of the services that prepare the animals for their new homes with the assistance of other professionals.

Where do the animals come from?

Kicyla said individuals across the community have called on the organization to take in an animal that has been dumped at their homes. Others have asked for assistance when they can no longer provide care for their pets.

At the group's inaugural adoption event, one man showed up with a couple of dogs that were left at his residence. CTAGS was able to provide assistance through low-cost services, and the man used the event as a venue for finding the orphaned animals permanent homes.

In addition to abandoned animals, Kicyla said the group hopes to rescue those that are on the kill list at other shelters.

"We realized the need in our area due to high euthanasia and low adoption rates," Kicyla said. "We can't take them all, but can combat the kill rate."

How you can help

For animals already placed with foster families, CTAGS relies on donations to fund their care.

Money not used for the animals will be set aside to help fund the organization's long-term goal - a no-kill rescue facility in Erath County.

"We need donations to really affect that program growth," Kicyla said.

Monetary donations can be mailed to CTAGS at P.O. Box 2410 Stephenville, TX 76401. Hopkins said CTAGS has filed for 501c3 non-profit status and is awaiting approval.

"We always need more foster homes," Cannon said. "We can never have too many."

For more information, call the organization at 518-882-8247.

Individuals interested in joining CTAGS may also attend any of its regular monthly meetings, which are held at Agave Bar & Grill at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month.