Nine Friends of Marshall Animals (FOMA) rescue dogs yipped and barked excitedly on Friday afternoon behind the Carlile Law Firm as they waited on the van that would take them on a journey to New York to find their new “furr-ever” homes, just in time for the holidays.

FOMA foster mom and dads stood and tried to hold back bittersweet tears as the dogs they spent the past several weeks caring for, some even bottle feeding by hand, were crated and loaded up to head north.

“I can’t talk about it,” FOMA foster mom Gale Pearson choked out on Friday as she stared at the two German Shepherd mix puppies she raised from infancy the past several weeks. “Their names are Tammy and Shelly, named after the two ladies that work at the Marshall Animal Shelter. They weighed two pounds when I first got them and had to be bottle fed for a few days.”

Pearson said though she would miss the pups, she knew Friday was a good day for everyone involved.

“Every foster animal holds your heart — it’s a little sad but I know they’re going to a good place,” she said. “I’ll be taking on more animals from the shelter now that these are gone. We’re trying to save them all.”

The Marshall Animal Shelter, as of Wednesday, was at capacity, and as the debate wages within the city on whether a new and larger animal shelter facility will be built, FOMA volunteers are working to save as many pets’ lives as possible.

“This is the majority of our foster program right here,” FOMA Volunteer Megan Benson said Friday. “We have a couple of dogs that couldn’t go that are still here in foster homes.”

FOMA Foster and Adoption Coordinator Jana Hernandez arranged Friday’s journey for the rescue pups after reaching out to the Jefferson County SPCA in Watertown, New York, where the pups will eventually end up.

“FOMA rented a van and our volunteer Phoenix Albright is going to drive the dogs 19 hours to Hershey, Pennsylvania where the SPCA will meet her and take the dogs the remaining five hour drive to their facility in Watertown,” Benson said. “Phoenix’s brother is also going with her so they can switch out drivers.”

The dogs, many of whom are young pups, will be arriving in Watertown just in time for the holidays and the FOMA volunteers had no doubt they would easily find their forever homes.

“They’re such sweet pups,” Pearson said. “I made collar tags for both of mine that have their name on them and ‘NY.’”

FOMA volunteer Leta Kay said she’s certain the dogs will get to New York, bark with a charming Texas accent and have the Yanks lining up to take them home forever.

“If we had a larger facility here in Marshall, our fosters could be volunteering there now instead of loading up these dogs to send somewhere else,” Kay said.

Hernandez said if people want to help, there are many ways to join in the effort to save animals’ lives here in Marshall.

“Fostering, adopting, donating, sharing, attending our events throughout the year — there are many ways to help,” she said. “We always need more people willing to foster an animal. The more fosters we have, the more animals we can save from the shelter, but if someone can’t foster, they can donate their time by volunteering at an event.”

Financial donations can be made through FOMA’s website or by reaching out on its Facebook page, both of which can be found here https://friendsofmarshallanimals.org/ and here https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfMA/

Hernandez said people who can’t adopt or foster an animal or donate, can help by sharing information about animals that are available for adoption, at both FOMA and Marshall Animal Shelter.

“You never know which one of your friends might be looking for an animal so please share,” she said.

FOMA’s next event is the Ugly Christmas Sweater Dog Walk set for 11 a.m. on Dec. 14 at Telegraph Park in Marshall.

The shelter also has a fund with a $10,000 goal to try to build a new and larger animal shelter facility, which is available on its Facebook page and website. The fund has raised almost $2,000 as of Friday evening.