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HARVARD — Alison Porter of Ayer lost her dog last year to old age.

She said, “It’s time, definitely,” when filling out an application to adopt “Madison,” a 4-month-old brindle-colored Plott hound. Madison’s foster parent let the dog get in a couple of licks on her potential new owner’s face before being led out of the Massachusetts Avenue storefront for the “Great Dog Rescue of New England (GDRNE).”

Located directly next door to Harvard Kennels, GDRNE is a nonprofit, shelterless, all-breed rescue organization based out of Andover. The group steadily brings dogs north out of Tennessee animal shelters to Massachusetts locations to quarantine the dogs for two days as required by law.

Following the isolation period, the dogs are placed in foster (temporary) or forever homes, when the animals are ultimately adopted, said Sue Dipasquale, the manager of the Harvard isolation location.

All animals are given health checks and are spayed or neutered before adoption is possible.

GDRNE donates money to spay and neuter clinics down south in an effort to thwart pet overpopulation, and to educate owners about animal rescue and responsible pet ownership.

Some animals rescued from the shelters are also trained to become assistants to the disabled. Since 2003, more than 4,000 dogs have been rescued. Ninety-five percent of the dogs come from Tennessee, where Dipasquale says, there are overpopulated “kill” shelters (where animals are kenneled for seven days before being put to sleep if not adopted) and “super kill” shelters, where the animals are kenneled for just three days before being put to sleep.

Most of the dogs are black in color. She says there are strong superstitions and preferences against adopting black dogs in the south, which means there are a higher percentage of black dogs that the group ultimately transports north for a new lease on life.

Carole O’Leary, of Saugus, visited GDRNE after an open house on a recent Saturday, where the public was invited in to meet and greet dogs in hopes of finding loving homes for the dogs on hand.

O’Leary and her two dogs act as a foster family for the transient dogs, having shared her house with more than 100 GDRNE dogs over the years. “They all have different personality and energy levels,” she said. “I can have a puppy when I feel like it,” she joked, adding on a serious note that her involvement with the group has brought her much joy.

Potential owners are asked to fill out an application. The GDRNE then does a background check on suitors, including veterinary interviews and home visits to make sure the family and setting are appropriate for the dogs. There’s a $400 adoption fee for dogs, $425 for puppies 5 months old and younger. Adoptive families must also sign a contract pledging to maintain a proper standard of care for the dogs.

Karla Humphreys, of Lowell, made it through the gauntlet. She showed up after the Open House had concluded to bring home the newest member of her family. With children Connor, Maddie and Ellie on hand, along with family dog Odie, a Lab mix, Humphreys talked with the staff before bringing her newly adopted GDRNE dog home. The little blonde ball of fur stood his ground, a fledgling alpha dog, letting Odie know who’d be the boss. Odie didn’t seem to mind.

The kids swarmed the puppy and talked about whether to name him “Trooper” or “Franklin.”

“The kids fell in love wit his face. Look at him. How can you not love him?” Humphreys said.

The Great Dog Rescue New England has a Web site where information about pet adoption can be found along with applications and information about volunteering with the group.