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Kill Shelters Exposed by Long Valley Author

Kim Kavin's search for a new pet leads to non-fiction book uncovering truths about animal shelters in the south.

When Kim Kavin lost her dog, Floyd, to old age after nearly 16 years, she made the decision to search and find a new pup to live in her Long Valley home.

What the journalist and author didn’t realize, however, was the journey she would go on over the next two years.

Kavin began her search on PetFinder.com, widely known as the premier source to find and adopt domesticated animals. When she found “Blue,” a mixture of at least two different breeds, according to his medical paperwork, in nearby Lambertville, Kavin felt her search was complete.

To her surprise, though, that’s actually when the search for answers began.

What Kavin learned was that Blue was not actually in Central New Jersey, rather, in a foster home in North Carolina, and was being offered for adoption by a foster-home network named Lulu's Rescue, based in Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

But why?

That question was the impetus for Kavin’s true journey, and the foundation of her book, “Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth.”

After Kavin obtained the “shy, sweet boy,” she refers to in 2010, and noticed he had scabs on his skin, she called the foster owner to find out why.

“(The foster owner) said she thought Blue had ringworm, so she bleached him,” Kavin said. “She then said, ‘what choice did I have, keep him in the shelter to be gassed?’

Blue, Kavin would later learn, was just a day away from the gas chamber himself.

“The journalist in me,” Kavin said, “I needed to know why, and what was going on down there.”

What she learned about the treatment of animals in taxpayer-funded kill shelters throughout the south infuriated her, Kavin said, and felt the truth needed to be exposed.

“This little shelter in rural North Carolina where Blue came from,” Kavin said, “was being funded by residents at $250,000 a year, and had a 95-percent kill rate by gas chamber.”

That 95-percent kill rate pertained to animals if rescue groups did not intervene, Kavin said.

Kavin said her research uncovered kill shelters across the nation were receiving $15 million in funding. 

A Life-Saving Pitch

The author of eight books and admitted non-animal activist contacted her publisher, Barron’s of New York, to talk about the idea. Barron’s is not immune to animal-based books, as it has published breeding books in the past, but never signed on for a hard-cover, non-fiction story, Kavin said.

Barron’s told Kavin that if she could do the research and pen the story in a five-month window, it would lead the fall collection.

“I hurled myself into it,” Kavin said. “The book is about the issue. Before people read it, they’re surprised to learn it’s been written by a journalist and not an animal rights activist.”

“Little Boy Blue,” which hit stores August 1, spent last week in the No. 2 spot among pet-based books, Kavin said. But it’s not just the book Kavin is excited about, rather what change has come from it.

“With any published book comes 15 minutes of fame,” Kavin said. “I’m trying to use mine to bring attention to this and make a change. People don’t think this is going on, but it is.”

Since the adoption of Blue, Kavin has helped 19 foster puppies “go from death row to happy homes,” she said, including Blue’s new sister, Ginger, and another puppy named Summer which now lives in Long Valley as well.

Since the release of the book, Blue’s original shelter said it will eliminate its gas chamber, Kavin said.

Kavin has been seen on CNN–with Blue, of course–and will be speaking and signing copies of her book at the Washington Township Library at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3.

To find out more about Kavin and her journey in rescuing Blue, go to littleboybluethebook.wordpress.com. The duo will be signing books at Well Bred in Chester on Oct. 27, as well as making guest appearances in other locations throughout the tri-state area. Find out where by going here.

To see Kavin and Blue's appearance on CNN, go here. 

For each book sold, Barron’s will be giving a donation to the Pet Finder Foundation to aid Kavin’s efforts in bringing light to the subject of kill shelters.

As for Blue, the 2 and-a-half year-old pup is taking it all in stride, Kavin said, staying in shape on the Columbia Trail and playing in his new hometown in between guest appearances. 

“We just need to get (the issue) out there,” Kavin said. “If we stand up and try, these animals won’t be slaughtered.”

Hookerman October 01, 2012 at 05:47 PM
The headline makes it sound like the author is exploiting kill shelters. I think the intended headline is something like; “Exploitation in Kill Shelters Uncovered by Long Valley Author”.
LV Resident October 01, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Looks like a great book! I will definitely have to read it. I have two great dogs. Both from shelters. Also, (not to take away from the story, but...) I agree with Hookerman. Nice article. Strange title. Yes, the word "exploited", was technically used correctly, but most people only think of the negative definition of the word. Maybe "Kill Shelters Exposed by Long Valley Author".
Sheila Thiele October 01, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Exploited? You've got to be kidding !! EXPOSED
Roger Keyser October 02, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I am a volunteer with Eleventh Hour Rescue and we applaud Kim's efforts to educate the public and share her findings to a wide audience regarding the plight of so many dogs in need of rescue. Over-crowding at local shelters around the country is a problem. Spay and neuter programs play an important role in this problem. The gas chamber is still in use in many states today (31 to be exact). Daniel the Miracle Beagle is helping to lead the way to outlaw them. To learn more, visit: http://www.danielthebeagle.com/
Liberty October 02, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Can you all read? The title is " Kill Shelters EXPOSED by Long Valley Author." Way to go, Kim! Blue is adorable!
Tracy Tobin October 02, 2012 at 02:11 PM
This is a great story. Too bad it did not come out sooner so it got more time to reach all the residents in town. Hope to see a lot of people at the Library on Wednesday. We need more stories about individuals standing up for what they can do rather than sitting back and bemoaning all the bad things that go on in the world. Thank you Ms. Kavin.
Valerie Lieberman October 02, 2012 at 02:12 PM
No matter the headline, Kim's research will shed much-needed light on the plight of our animal friends in shelters everywhere. Let's hope the publicity will encourage other shelters, like the one Blue came from, to do away with their gas chambers. Through the years, I've adopted from Eleventh Hour, K.I.S.S. and Second Chance, and continue to applaud their efforts in finding loving homes for orphaned pets. Valerie Lieberman VAL'S PALS Home Pet Care
Animalover October 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I'm happy to report that Kim will be signing copies of LITTLE BOY BLUE at a reception given in conjunction with the showing of the HBO film, ONE NATION UNDER DOG, which will screen at the Hamptons International Film Festival, on Sunday October 7th. This film will be the recipient of the first *Zelda Penzel Award: Giving Voice to the Voiceless. Presented to a film in the festival that raises public awareness and provokes discussion about contemporary issues of social concern, including the moral and ethical treatment and the rights of animals, as well as environmental protection...a film that will hopefully inspire compassion, action and change". I am very excited to have the honor of making this award, and have Kim there to help bring awareness to these issues.
Hookerman October 02, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Wow Liberty, imaginine that... we all read exploited, when it really said exposed all along. Ya think maybe the headline has been changed since we mentioned it yesterday????
Liberty October 02, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Sorry! Yesterday's Patch also says Exposed. I did not get the Patch yesterday, so did not see original headline. Regardless, it's a great story and I hope it brings awareness to the problem.
Indoor Outdoor October 02, 2012 at 02:47 PM
What a great story! Look forward to meeting you tomorrow!
Long Valley resident October 06, 2012 at 10:11 PM
yeah, well lets all keep buying out animals instead of looking for them at the pound. anyone who breeds animals for a profit should be down right disgusted with themselves when there are millions! of animals dieing everyday in our shelters.

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