Return to school:<BR>a mercy mission for vet student

Driving 15 puppies halfway across the country might seem an unbearable chore, but Oregon State University student Janis Kuzma is looking forward to it.

Kuzma plans to adopt the puppies, 11 from the same litter, and on Sunday begin the two-day trip to Oregon, where she can place them in a no-kill animal shelter.

Her boyfriend, James Hodgson, is helping her move the batch ranging from shepherd mixes to Aussie mixes.

The puppies were supposed to be euthanized Wednesday, but animal control officers were happy to let them go.

"I think what she's doing is great," said Carmen Haack, an office assistant at the Mohave County Animal Shelter.

"Whatever I take will mean the other animals here have that much more time," Kuzma said.

Kuzma has a little more than a year of study remaining for a bachelor's degree in pre-veterinary medicine at Oregon State, which is in Corvallis.

Her parents live in Kingman and she volunteers at the shelter during the summer.

During the school year, Kuzma is a volunteer for the Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis, spending about six hours a week finding homes for the animals.

Kuzma said puppies are rare at many shelters in Oregon, so she believes that the puppies she brings from Kingman will be adopted quickly.

When asked why puppies are not common in Oregon shelters, Kuzma wasn't afraid to give a direct response.

"People spay or neuter the pets in Oregon," she said.

"They're slightly more evolved pet owners and more responsible pet people."

As with many animal activists, Kuzma also expressed frustration with people trying to make money on mixed-breed puppies or other non-registered animals.

"They always want to adopt them here (at animal shelters) and then breed them.

Do you see how many dogs are here? We don't need any more dogs."

There was only one thing on her mind about a journey with 15 rambunctious, barking pups: "Hopefully the Best Western that allows pets won't have a problem."