Much like the idyllic setting for a children’s novel, Doug Kammerer has fond memories of his childhood on Mercer Island and his constant companion: a beagle named Princess.
Laughing, Kammerer recounts how, with no fenced yard, Princess was free to safely wander the island, visiting neighbors and getting treats from the neighborhood store.
“We grew up together,” the 61-year-old Fox Island resident said. “It was just like in the movies.”
A love for beagles has stayed with Kammerer, who now provides a home for four beagles — Ben, Bailey, Bella and Betty — and has even transferred over into another passion: music.
Kammerer is the founder and drum player for The Flock of Beagles, a classic rock five-piece band playing music from the 1970s and 80s.
The band was started a few years ago and the name arrived during a practice session at Kammerer’s house, an obvious choice with the beagles sniffing their way through the middle of everything. According to the band’s Facebook page, the name is also a combination of favorite musical groups of the members, The Beatles and The Eagles. The five band members are Steve Swanson, Steve Mason, Chris Hagen, Keith Richards and Kammerer.
I’ve been a member of beagle rescue for years. When I saw they were doing this rescue for South Korea I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a real rescue because the alternative would be they are eaten.’
Doug Kammerer, The Flock of Beagles member
Playing events around Tacoma and Gig Harbor, the band’s most recent performance further supported Kammerer’s love of beagles during its Friday performance at MarKee Coffee with a $500 donation to the Seattle Beagle Rescue.
The donation was spurred by the organization’s recent rescue of 12 beagles from South Korea. Kammerer, a member of the rescue, wanted to help support the effort to bring the beagles to the United States and their new foster homes.
“I’ve been a member of beagle rescue for years,” he said. “When I saw they were doing this rescue for South Korea I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a real rescue because the alternative would be they are eaten.’”
Kammerer’s not exaggerating. According to Seattle Beagle Rescue Board member and volunteer Meggie Von Haartman, the dogs had belonged to a puppy mill and had been sold to a meat market when the puppy mill owner was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Without thinking about all the logistics or anything, we said, ‘Of course!’ because we all love beagles and have heard the horrific stories of these beagles stuck in horrific conditions. Puppy mills are bad, animal testing is bad, (and) meat markets are bad.
Meggie Von Haartman, Seattle Beagle Rescue
“Without thinking about all the logistics or anything, we said, ‘Of course!” because we all love beagles and have heard the horrific stories of these beagles stuck in horrific conditions,” Von Haartman said. “Puppy mills are bad, animal testing is bad, (and) meat markets are bad.”
The organization typically works to rescue beagles and beagle-mixes regionally, with the largest rescue area being from high-kill shelters in Southern California.
The volunteers heard about these beagles from Saving Great Animals, another rescue which works both nationally and internationally and had been contacted by a South Korean rescue, Empathy for Life, at the end of March to rescue the dogs and bring them to the U.S.
“It’s a little overwhelming having all these beagles come at one time,” Von Haartman said. “We’ve never had such an influx of dogs at once ... this is kind of filling up our foster homes.”
But foster homes have been secured for all the dogs, who will need specialized attention and training to learn typical pet behaviors, such as house training. These foster homes will also provide the beagles typical pet experiences, such as walking on a leash, sleeping in a bed or playing with a toy.
Saving these beagles from the dark future of the South Korean meat market is a meaningful event for both Von Haartmen and Kammerer.
It’s not just South Korean beagles that need adoption and fostering but the local ones too. If someone wants a beagle, we’re the place to start. (Fostering) is kind of an easy way to test drive a beagle. That’s what I’m hoping comes about.
“I like their friendliness, they wag their tail at everybody. They’re not mean,” Kammerer said of the breed. “They definitely have strong personalities and most of them need to be kept in a fenced area because sometimes they catch a scent of a squirrel or a rabbit and they take off running. I like that independent spirit. They’re good companion dogs. They sit on the couch and watch TV with me.”
Beagles make great family dogs, he said, having seen them be gentle and friendly with children. As a registered foster home for the rescue, Kammerer is also able to schedule home visits for other people looking to foster, and possibly adopt a beagle, from the organization.
“It’s not just South Korean beagles that need adoption and fostering but the local ones, too. If someone wants a beagle, we’re the place to start,” he said. “(Fostering) is kind of an easy way to test drive a beagle. That’s what I’m hoping comes about.”
The first two beagles from South Korea arrived at SeaTac May 3 and eight more arrived Wednesday. The last two beagles, a mother and recently-born puppy, will be fostered in South Korea until ready for travel.
More information on the Seattle Beagle Rescue, including information on fostering and donations, can be found at beaglerescue.org.