Spring Township, PA -  The CatWorks Inc. received some precious furry cargo from the South this weekend: 71 dogs and puppies ranging in age from 6 weeks to 12 years.

The dogs were taken to a Spring Township shopping center parking lot on Saturday and distributed to area foster homes.

One dog came from Cannon County Community for Animals in Woodbury, Tenn., and 70 of the dogs came from Mississippi's Tupelo-Lee Humane Society.

"We can average 30 to 40 intakes on any given day," said Rachel Allred, who is director of operations for TLHS, an open-admissions shelter that takes in about 6,000 animals a year.

"We're fighting a losing battle," Allred said, citing lack of education about pet breeding and ownership and economic constraints.

She noted that the shelter has been able to avoid euthanizing due to space constraints for two years now due to rescues and fosters. Her staff of 20 cares for the animals until the animals are ready for transport.

Foster/rescue coordinator Michelle Pugh reaches out to groups up and down the East Coast to find potential homes for their overabundance of puppies and dogs. The shelter has a capacity of about 250 animals, Allred said.

Pugh said they are still full even after sending 70 dogs north.

The CatWorks is a network of foster homes founded in 2002 by Nikki Mengel and Jennifer Schouten, who is no longer involved. The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that expanded in 2006 to accept dogs and puppies.

Mengel of Spring Township says that there are 30 to 32 foster homes her organization uses.

She explained that the TLHS provides free transportation for every 35 canines a rescue pays to pull. Fees vary based upon age and health condition. The CatWorks took on a double batch, and Allred, a vet-tech, traveled with the convoy.

"They are phenomenal," Mengel said. "Their records are great."

The dogs' needs are evaluated and they will remain in The CatWorks' possession for at least two weeks until they are caught up on vaccinations, dewormed and their personalities can be determined.

Adoption fees range from a donation request for special-needs animals to $350 for puppies. Adult cats are $25.

Kathy Leser of Lititz took in a special-needs dog from the recent transport who was the oldest. Gus, a 12-year-old Shih Tzu or Lhasa apso mix, has a tumor on his hind leg that is the size of a fist, Mengel said, and he is also being treated for seizures.

Leser, 63, said Gus has no trouble fitting in with her dogs and cats on her 5 acres and has not had a seizure since he came to her. He has been receiving phenobarbital to prevent seizures.

"He will be up for adoption after he has surgery," Leser said.

A dog or puppy's health problems do not deter Mengel in trying to find a loving home.

"Somehow, Nikki finds a way," said Janet Noll of Muhlenberg Township, a long-time foster mom for The CatWorks.

Up next on The CatWorks agenda will be fostering and finding homes for 10 dogs from Kuwait.

Contact Susan E. Miers Smith: ssmith@readingeagle.com or 610-371-5048.