Rescue organization boosts neighborhood awareness

Recently, a pit bull puppy was seen being dropped off on a vacant street at 10 on a Sunday night. With his collar and leash still attached, the dog sat in the middle of the street as the car sped away.

An East Nashville resident witnessed the incident, and she rescued the dog and provided him with a temporary home until a new owner was found.

East C.A.N., a volunteer organization based in East Nashville, served as a means of support during that lengthy process. The mission of East C.A.N. is to encourage positive and timely differences in East Nashville by facilitating neighbors helping neighbors.

In August 2008, president Elizabeth Chauncey began East C.A.N. when she became aware of a neighborhood stray who was needing immediate medical attention.

"By all accounts there seemed to be people willing and able to help," Chauncey said. "Without an organized plan, a line of communication or a source of funds, taking action became confusing, frustrating, and ultimately too late."

A discussion on the East Nashville listserv unearthed a small group of individuals who were willing to help strengthen their neighborhood. Though they handle any number of needs, their main focus is pet rescue and adoption.

East C.A.N. has listed resources on their website to assist the neighborhood when a stray or abandoned animal is found. They have no intentions of forming a shelter in the future; the premise of the organization is that everyone pitches in to help solve neighborhood issues.

"Until Tennessee has spay and neuter laws and stronger laws protecting animals from abuse and neglect, the issues in our neighborhood will continue to be bigger than any one organization," Chauncey said.

The organization assists in training pets to ease the transition into a new home. They also participate in adoption events and will serve as transport for vet visits if at all possible. At this time, eighteen East Nashville residents are signed up to be potential foster homes.

"It's inspiring to see just how much can be accomplished by a group of passionate neighbors," says East C.A.N. webmaster and volunteer Shelley Madison.

East C.A.N. requires a $100.00 adoption fee to offset the costs of vetting and caring for our animals until proper homes are found. Once prospective owners fill out a foster application, a member will schedule an interview and home visit.

"Once animals have a committed foster home, East C.A.N. can begin to assist with evaluations, vetting and introducing for adoption," Chauncey said.

East C.A.N. provides supplies including food, crate, beds and monthly meds based on their level of donations at the moment. East C.A.N. marketing coordinator Sharon Billingsley believes that commitment to potential owners provides a sense of community.

"I think one of the greatest things we offer anyone who contacts us is the feeling of not being alone in the situation," Billingsley said.

Local businesses have assisted East C.A.N. in publicizing their cause. The Nashville Roller Girls featured East C.A.N. at their July bout. Other partners have included Wild Cow Vegetarian Restaurant and Wags & Whiskers. The organization placed third in Nashville Paw’s survey of the best animal welfare groups in 2009.

"We don't have a magic wand to wave over problematic situations," Madison said. "But we do our best to educate, rally, and unite our neighbors to tackle all sorts of issues, animal and otherwise."

Chauncey is currently seeking a grant writer and financial partners who will commit to a regular monthly donation to assist in organizational costs. Event planners and volunteers are also needed. 

East C.A.N. operates as a 501c3, under the umbrella of Rediscover East, so donations are tax deductible. The group continues to support pet owners in the community during this difficult economic climate. They provide supplies including food, crate, beds and monthly meds based on their level of donations at the moment. East C.A.N. marketing coordinator Sharon Billingsley believes that commitment to potential owners provides a sense of community.

"I think one of the greatest things we offer anyone who contacts us is the feeling of not being alone in the situation," Billingsley said.

Chauncey adds: "We've had two food drives through East Nasty Running Group that allows us to have a stash of pet food to give to people in need,"

East C.A.N. estimates that over 100 animals have been rehomed or assisted in the last two years.

"We'd like to think that in providing support like this, we encourage people to keep being proactive about dealing with the issues in our neighborhood," Billingsley said.

East C.A.N. will have a booth at Oktoberfest in Germantown on Oct. 9th with adoptable dogs. For more information, you can contact or visit their Facebook page,

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