EARLEVILLE — Dogs that were literally hours from death are now finding “furever” homes through Pardoned Paws Rescue, a husband and wife animal welfare organization started earlier this year.

Cheryl and Chris Devaux run Pardoned Paws from their Earleville home with four kennels that have both heat and air conditioning.

“If they had cable TV, I’d move out here,” Chris said of the neat row of units, each holding a dog awaiting adoption.

The Devauxs took in their first dog in February. They have saved 15 so far and of those, 11 have new homes.

“We pull the dogs who were eight hours from being euthanized,” Chris said. That’s how the name was decided. “Our mission is to pull dogs who find themselves on death row because they are in an overcrowded shelter. Through their contacts, they find those dogs from various locales.

“Jesse and Sugar are from Louisiana,” Cheryl said. Sugar is playful, exuberant and deaf. Jesse came to Pardoned Paws with evidence of past injuries but is just as playful. Sugar was recently adopted but the Devauxs always have the next rescue on standby.

“We don’t do puppies. We don’t do small dogs,” she said of their very specific mission. They have the pit bulls, pit mixes and other breeds with tainted public perceptions.

“Our own personal dog is Beau. He’s an older pit/lab mix,” she said. “When I met him he scared me.”

However, she soon learned he is loving, affectionate and eager to please.

“And he’s a big goofball,” she added. “I fell in love with a dog who was completely discriminated against.”

Beau helps the Pardoned Paws residents learn how to calm down, be social and be accepted so each can be adopted.

Pardoned Paws actually began long before the kennels were built in Earleville. Cheryl began by doing volunteer administrative work for a rescue in New York.

“It wasn’t enough. When Cecil County Animal Services began, I started volunteering there,” she said. “It still didn’t feel like it was enough.”

At that time, they lived in Patriot’s Glen in Elkton. They knew they had to get out of that subdivision to do more.

“So we started looking for property and we found this in the middle of nowhere,” she said of the expansive wooded acreage.

“We moved here specifically for them,” Chris added.

They still work with CCAS, calling Director Abigail Bingham “a great asset and mentor.”

“We’ve learned a lot,” Cheryl said of their time so far. “Our first dog was in and out in a week and we were on a high.”

The next dogs did not have such a quick turnaround, forcing the Devauxs to learn how to market Pardoned Paws and network. And fundraise. They have hooked their Facebook and Instagram pages and website to a PayPal account to receive donations and have set up an Amazon wish list.

“Because every one of our dogs is fully vetted when you adopt it,” she said. That means it is spayed or neutered, micro-chipped and up to date with its shots. “We also give you next month’s heart worm medicine and a goodie bag.”

Depending on the dog, the adoption fee is $200 to $300 dollars.

Meanwhile, the Devauxs love on each dog and treat them as family until each has a family of its own.

“This is what we do,” Cheryl said. “We just need people to help us get the word out.”

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