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.
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.
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.”