07/18/13 5:00pm
07/18/2013 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN PHOTO | Puppies saved from Grand Bahama will soon be available for adoption at Kent Animal Shelter.

There’s nothing cuter than a yard full of puppies. And when they’re puppies saved from a dismal future, their big eyes and wagging tails seem even sweeter.

Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton is taking part in ‘Operation Puppy Lift,’ a program started by the Humane Society of Grand Bahama.

The northernmost island of the Bahamas, Grand Bahama has population issues with stray dogs and only one animal shelter to deal with the problem. Around 1,200 animals are taken in per year at the shelter, Kent executive director Pam Green said. Overcrowding leads to a high euthanasia rate.

To help save the puppies, HSGB started “Operation Puppy Lift,” in which the organization joins together with no-kill shelters in the U.S. to take in the needy pups. Kent welcomed 15 new puppies Wednesday who were flown in from the tropics.

The strays traveled on a private charter from Grand Bahama to Florida, and then went on a commercial airplane to JFK airport in New York where the shelter workers picked them up. HSGB paid for the transportation through its own funding and the puppies are solely in the shelter’s care now.

Kent became involved in the program when office manager Linda MacDonald reached out to a friend who worked with HSGB. Ms. Green said she plans on making this an ongoing partnership.

“It’s such a shame that these little guys are being put to sleep without a chance,” she said as small puppies on leashes ran around her legs. “It’s just a different culture there when dealing with the dogs.”

The dogs are called “potcake puppies,” a local name used to describe the native mixed breeds on the island.

“They’re a mixed breed and look a little collie-ish … they have longer snouts,” Ms. Green said when describing their appearance.

The adorable puppies are all less than a year old, the youngest being four months, and shelter staff members said the dogs will stay a small to medium size into adulthood.

After being checked by a veterinarian, vaccinated and spayed or neutered, the puppies will be put up for adoption. The shelter is hopeful the process will be complete by the end of the week.

Kelly Cross, a staff member at the shelter, said that although she limits one dog for herself, it is difficult not to get attached to the new ones when they arrive.

One pup from Grand Bahama is already stealing her heart.

“I think this one is my favorite so far,” she said of a tiny white puppy with light brown spots. “You get very attached — I mean just look at them. But it’s rewarding to see a great family come in and fall in love. It’s sad to see them go, but it’s a good kind of sad.”

The shelter is also picking up four more puppies on Saturday who hail from Turks and Caicos, islands with a similar dog problem.

Those interested in adopting one of the new puppies can visit the shelter’s website www.kentanimalshelter.com. Pictures of the new pups should be online in a few days, and applications are available on the website.

intern@timesreview.com