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POOCH pups together again
Program started by Oxford professor places dogs rescued from shelters into foster families
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At the annual Pooch Paw Fest at Oxford College, graduates of the college’s POOCH program mixed and mingled with their owners and former canine roommates on the grassy quad of the campus Saturday afternoon.

Formed in 2001 by several Oxford professors, POOCH serves as a foster family for dogs rescued by Pound Puppies ‘N Kittens, a local nonprofit that takes in dogs and cats from area pounds that are about to be euthanized.

POOCH typically takes in two dogs at a time which are fed, housed and cared for by students and professors. Several times a month the dogs are taken to PetSmart in Conyers for adoption fairs. The dogs are all generally fully-grown and tend to be from the smaller breeds. They have all been vaccinated and spayed/neutered.

Gayle Doherty, one of the founders of POOCH and an associate professor at Oxford, said the group has taken in and seen adopted 25 dogs since its inception. Most of the dogs that POOCH takes in have been abused by former owners so part of the group’s mission is to earn back the dogs’ trust of humans before they are adopted.

The success of the POOCH mission was in evidence on Saturday as several graduates of the program cavorted and frisked about with other dogs brought in by the general public to take part in the festivities.

Lucy, a former POOCH dog, was adopted by the family of Oxford College sophomore and POOCH member Ayanna Donaldson. Lucy, who lives in DeKalb County, returned to campus to take part in the annual reunion of current and former POOCH dogs and to participate in several Dog and Master competitions during the day including Best Kiss.

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