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Published on June 29th, 2012 | by TLV News


Drifters’ Place – Saving Dogs Every Day (Interview by Sarah Reddick, from TLV #159)

Interview with Stephanie Mitchell by Sarah Reddick

How long has Drifters’ Place been in operation? We bought the property for Drifters’ Place in August of 2011. We didn’t actually become an entity until October of the same year.

How did you come up with the name Drifters’ Place? A good friend of mine has a wonderful Standard Poodle that she adopted from Carolina Poodle Rescue in South Carolina. His name is Drifter and we decided to play off his name. Most of the dogs that’ll be coming to the farm will just be drifting through, only staying long enough to get what they need before heading to their forever homes.

What gave you the idea for the shelter? Many shelters, especially in the southern states, have 80-90% kill rates. The biggest reason for putting a dog down is behavioral issues. If behavior is one of the reasons a dog becomes “unadoptable,” then what do we need to do to make them more adoptable?  One thing we can do is spend more time with the dogs and train them in certain areas. All of our dogs are crate trained for sleeping and eating. In the last 10 months, we have taken in 211 dogs; 119 of those dogs have been adopted. We have 43 on the property, 12 in foster homes or foster to adopt, 32 died, four were euthanized because they could not be rehabilitated, and 1 escaped and we have been unable to find him.

What would you like to change about animal laws in Mississippi? Nationwide? Right now there is very little to protect animals from cruelty and abuse. While we do have a felony cruelty law, someone would have to be convicted for cruelty twice in a five-year period to be convicted of a felony. If you have a convicted animal abuser, the law, as currently written, allows that abuser to continue until caught again. Blatant torture, neglect and abuse, should be a felony on the first offense. Also, I’d obviously like to see the larceny dog stealing law changed. No one should ever be arrested and charged with a felony when trying to help an animal. Nationally, I would like to see every state change the way the law views animals. In the majority of states, they are seen as property and their value is held only to a dollar amount. In so many cases, pets are so much more than property, and when something happens to a pet due to someone’s negligence or cruelty, the loss, according to the law is minimal.

Can you tell me about a few funny/encouraging experiences you’ve had since starting Drifters’? We had a dog surrendered to us by a landlord one weekend. Apparently, the dog had been tied up outside and the owner decided to move and leave the dog behind. After a week of abandonment, the dog was turned over to me and we worked with him a little before he was adopted. He is now being trained as a therapy dog and is close to getting his Canine Good Citizen certification. What a dream-come-true for Drifters’! There are so many stories. I consider any dog or puppy a success and encouragement if we can rehabilitate it and find it a good home.

Do you have a lot of folks volunteer? We have a good number of volunteers, especially from Ole Miss. There are professors on campus who have encouraged their students to volunteer with us. One in particular offers extra credit for his students to perform community service hours with us. All the volunteers are extremely valuable to us. Their work allows us to continue to expand and grow by increasing our labor and people-power.

What are you in need of most? We are most in need of money. We also always need dog food, cleaning supplies and any donations made directly to our vet bills are always appreciated. If anyone should want to donate, they can mail checks to PO Box 2875, Oxford, MS  38655. We also have a PayPal account and money can be donated to the email address fightfordogsATgmailDOTCOM. Supply donations can be dropped off at Panini, located in the Mid-town shopping center in Oxford.

How would someone go about adopting a dog from Drifters’? The easiest way to adopt is email me at fightfordogsATgmailDOTCOM. Tell me what you have in mind and we’ll go from there. Typically, there is a short application for the adopter to fill out. Then after approval, there is an adoption fee and contract. It’s a really simple process and we do everything we can to get the right dog to anyone who truly wants a pet.

What do you love the most about working with dogs? I love learning about communication, behavior and the experience of unconditional love. Taking a dog in and understanding what is going to motivate that dog can be challenging at times. Taking a dog that has never been shown kindness or love and turning it around to accept that affection and return it, is so much more than rewarding. It is a gift.

Any tips for prospective pet owners? Yes, be consistent with your behavior and treatment of your dogs. Routines and steady interaction with your pet is critical in you being able to control your dog when things change. Just about any behavior issue can be modified with enough work. I always recommend that everyone go through obedience training with a new dog or puppy.

Visit Drifters’ Place homepage at

About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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