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      Quicy K-9 Connections saves lives and money

      Everyone knows we have a population problem with unwanted dogs and cats in the Tri-States.

      What you might not know is there's an organization in Quincy to help control it.

      Anne Heckle founded Quincy K-9 Connections.

      Every Saturday, volunteers with that organization pull dogs and cats from area shelters and transport them to rescue organizations and parts of the Midwest that actually have a shortage of pets.

      KHQA's Rajah Maples spoke with Heckle and the Adams County Animal Warden about how this operation saves lives, not to mention money for local city and county governments.

      This is Bella, an American Staffordshire Terrier. She was found in a ditch in Quincy, starving and in bad shape. Quincy K-9 Connections posted her information online, which was spotted by Midwest Animal Rescue. That group contacted Pilots and Paws, which is a national group of volunteer pilots and private plane owners that transport rescued pets to new homes across the country. Bella departed from the Quincy Regional Airport on October 17 and flew to her new home in Minnesota.

      But Bella is just one of thousands of dogs that are saved and transported to other parts of the country through Quincy K-9 Connections.

      Adams County Animal Warden Jenny Benjamin said, "We need to get the word out, and people need to realize that Anne Heckle does I the community for all of these animals."

      These kennels are relatively empty on Monday, but by Fridays, this county shelter is full to capacity. Just last Saturday, 40 dogs were transported to Springfield, which were then transported to the Chicago/Wisconsin area-- all thanks to internet networking, transporters and volunteers.

      Founder Anne Heckle said, "The main thing we need are transporters. We leave here every Saturday morning at 6 a.m. We drive at 5 a.m. to load up all the dogs and head to Springfield."

      Last year alone, Quincy K-9 Connections rescued and transported 1400 dogs. The City of Quincy and Adams County usually have to pay a veterinarian $20 per dog to euthanize. That's a $28,000 savings for area governments, depending on whether the dog came from either the city or county shelters. And Heckle doesn't limit the rescues to Quincy -- she's worked with animal shelters in Hannibal and even Columbia, Missouri.

      Benjamin said, "I know the county, it saves us over hundreds of dollars every week, so we don't have to euthanize."

      And due to the economy, Adams County Animal Warden Jenny Benjamin has seen some pretty harsh conditions.

      She said, "It's been bad. We've had abandonments, dogs thrown out of cars, dogs dumped in ditches and starved. Dogs tied up and left to starve."

      Quincy K-9 Connections does not receive any financial help from the city, county or state. Right now, the money has come out of Heckle's and volunteers' pockets. But Heckle is in the process of establishing a 501c3 status so she can start soliciting donations.

      As Founder Anne Heckle mentioned earlier, Quincy K-9 Connections needs volunteer transporters and foster homes. If you can help, you are asked to call (217) 257-1322 or (217) 277-2145.