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'Operation Helping Hounds' rescues unwanted hunting dogs

Non-profit group has brought 800 hound dogs to California to loving families

VALLEY CENTER, Calif. — Other than hearing the song 'Hound Dog' by Elvis Presley, you may not know much about the hound dog breed. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Valley Center to visit the dedicated people who run 'Operation Helping Hounds'.

"She was everything to my husband," said Marie-Louise Guernsey. 

I stood in her home where she built a shrine to honor her family's hound dog Emily who died five years ago. "She is the reason we started this," said Marie.

Credit: Operation Helping Hounds

Operation Helping Hounds is a non-profit rescue that relocates unwanted hunting hounds to California. 

"Hounds make great dogs. Hounds are lovable dogs. They get along with kids. They get along with other dogs," said Marie.  

But Marie told me in states like Tennessee and Kentucky at the end of every hunting season, there is an abundance of hound dogs nobody wants. 

"These dogs are getting euthanized you know at a high velocity they are kind of like the pit bulls of California," said Marie.

Credit: Operation Helping Hounds

Operation Helping Hounds' mission is to coordinate and provide logistics pertaining to the relocation of homeless, neglected, and abused at-risk Hound Dogs. Operation Helping Hounds calls states like Oklahoma and Texas to organize what is called "Hound Hauls". 

"We had fifty-one on this last trip," said volunteer Julie Nesseth who just returned from a 3,600-mile road trip collecting the hounds nobody wanted. 

"It's rewarding, don't get me going, I do it because I love animals," said Julie holding back tears. Julie gets emotional because many of the dogs are in rough shape. They showed me a picture of one dog that was accidentally shot in face then abandoned. "You know leaving your dog in the field when you are done with them at the end of hunting season is unbelievable to me. My dogs are my kids," said Julie.  

Which is where you come in if you're looking for a hound dog of your own these precious pups end up at Priceless Pets

"They are such wonderful family dogs and once a family adopts a hound, they want another one and another one," said Lisa Price from the Priceless Pet Rescue. Lisa said there aren't many hound dogs in California. 

"People walk into our organization and say, 'I want a lab' and I say no you don't you want a hound," said Lisa.  

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"They are just great dogs, and they are pretty," said Marie.  

But transporting the animals across the country and paying for their vet bills is costly. Donations are needed and adopting families are needed.

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Many hound dogs live long happy lives, yet after every hunting season, the advocates say the loyalty of many dogs is not returned. 

"Every animal that ends up in a shelter, it's not their fault, it's normally a person who has done something wrong," said Julie. 

"I don't understand people. I do not understand why somebody would do that to a dog," said Marie.

So how many hounds have 'Operation Helping Hounds' rescued? 

"Eight hundred," Marie said proudly. What would her hound dog Emily would say about that? You would have had to be there, but Marie let loose a gigantic howl. "Aroooooooo," yelped Marie.

If you'd like to adopt a hound dog or help Operation Helping Hounds with a donation, click here

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