*Leech Lake Legacy is a 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profit organization

Envisioning a world where every reservation dog and cat is well cared for

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise

Saturday, February 21, 2015
5:00 a.m. – A screaming alarm wakes me up in an unfamiliar bed and it takes a minute for my groggy brain to remember I am in Cass Lake on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.  I stumble out of bed and try to focus on making it to the bathroom without tripping over the miscellaneous shoes, bags and other items strewn along my path.  

I make it into the shower without injury and as I stand under the steaming water, I think about the previous evening when I received a late-night call from Dr. Vicki.  She was calling to see if I could help organize transport for a severely burned puppy from Red Lake Reservation that needed to get to Minneapolis as soon as possible.  A few phone calls and emails later and transport was set.  I think again to myself how lucky I am to be involved with such a passionate, dedicated network of animal lovers and send a silent prayer that the injured dog survives the trip.

I am in town with a group of Leech Lake Legacy volunteers to host a Surrender Event at the Tribal Police Headquarters in Cass Lake.  Once a month, we set up at the Tribal Police garages and provide an opportunity for residents of the Reservation to surrender their animals to us.  We take in animals (dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, etc.) all day on Saturday.  We are able to provide simple services to dogs and cats (de-worming) and also trim nails.  And we provide dog and cat food to pet owners.

Surrendered at event
5:30 a.m. - I head outside to start the cargo van and open the hotel door to a face-numbing blast of icy wind.  The thermometer reads 16 below zero but with the wind it feels 20 degrees colder.  The van grumbles and complains but after a bit of coaxing, finally starts up.  I crank the heat on full blast, pull my hat down around my ears and begin the arduous task of scraping the inch of ice from all 11 windows on the van.

5:45 a.m. - I wasn’t scheduled to meet up with the other volunteers until 6:30 a.m. but as I was leaving the facility the night before, I discovered that we were out of toilet paper.  Since I was coordinating the clinic, I figured it was my responsibility to make sure we had enough TP to get us through the day.  I certainly didn't want a mutiny on my hands.  My first stop was Teal’s, the local grocery store.  I left the van running as I pulled into the lot and was thoroughly disappointed when I ran to the door and realized they didn’t open until 6:00.  I jumped back in the van and attempted to keep warm until the store opened.

1 of a litter of 3 puppies surrendered at event
6:15 a.m. – It is still dark when I arrive at the garages.  I fumble with the door lock – my fingers are frozen and don’t work the way I want them to.  I finally get inside and am thankful for the blast of hot air that hits me in the face.  I flip on the lights and hear cars pulling up outside.  The other volunteers have arrived.

Surrendered at Event
7:59 a.m. – Crates are assembled.  Donated dog and cat food is neatly stacked and ready for distribution.  Pee pads and fluffy blankets line each crate in preparation for a new occupant.  The “Surrender Animals Here” sign is set up outside the door with an arrow pointing to the correct entrance.  The group photo has been snapped.  All of the volunteers have their assignments.  We wait with shivering anticipation for that first surrender.

Our Fantastic Volunteers
Jenny, Wendy, Bill, Teresa, John, Jenna, Melissa
Nancy, Sandra, Jarre, Linda
Trudy is taking the picture
8:02 a.m. – Ozzy drags his owner in the door, wagging his stub of a tail and slobbering with excitement. Ozzy is a big, brindle bulldog mix, all wiggles and happy dances.  His owner is an elderly man who tells me that due to a death in the family, he needs to surrender Ozzy.  As we work on the paperwork together, I can see sadness in his eyes.  I know how difficult this must be for him.  He doesn’t say good-bye – a simple pat on Ozzy’s big head and the owner is gone.  Ozzy stares at the door with a puzzled look on his face – not quite sure what is happening.

12:45 p.m. – Surrenders have been steady all day.  We have taken in a couple litters of puppies, a number of adult dogs and a few cats.  We have trimmed a few nails and handed out a lot of dog food.  A previous surgical client named Chili came in with his owner to have an injured eye looked at.  It’s still really cold outside but thankfully, it hasn't stopped residents from stopping by.  Many of the owners express their gratitude for helping them find a home for their animals.  We see a lot of tears.

Jessie and Jenna
5:00 p.m. – Our photographer, Trudy and her husband, John have finished taking pictures.  The last of the surrendered animals have been fed and tucked in.  The delicious smell of dinner from simmering crockpots is heavy in the air and I announce to the hungry group that it is time to eat.  Diane and Terri have provided us with a fantastic array of edibles – soup and Sloppy Joe’s – fruit, chips and dessert – all of it quickly devoured.

10:00 p.m. – We finish walking the last of the dogs.  The dogs, cats, puppies and kittens have all been fed and settled in for the night.  The volunteers who are staying overnight begin to get ready for bed.  I hear a ruckus outside and peek out the door – in the darkness, I see three, 4-legged shadows who scatter from the spilled kibble they were eating.  I step further outside and whistle – hoping without hope that they will realize that I can provide them a warm bed and a good meal.  They disappear into the darkness.  The freezing wind hits me in the face as I turn to go back inside – sending a quick prayer into the night that the three dogs find some shelter tonight.


Ora and Orange Blossom
Final numbers for the weekend:

Total number of animals surrendered - 26
Total number of dogs surrendered – 19
Total number of cats surrendered – 7

We will be back again on March 20-21 for a spay/neuter/wellness clinic.  And, as always, we will take in surrendered animals and give out free dog and cat food.  Hope to see you then.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Working together to help reservation animals

Leech Lake Legacy serving Leech Lake Reservation, Red Lake Rosie's Rescue of Red Lake Reservation and WE R Furr Feline Rescue of White Earth Reservation are collaborating to host the first ever Surrender Event at White Earth Reservation at the Sports Complex in Naytahwaush, MN on Valentine's Day.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Flash: An amazing transformation

Flash and Indy
Flash, a gorgeous black and white cat, was surrendered to Leech Lake Legacy at our Dec. 13, 2014 Surrender Event in Cass Lake. He was a stray on Leech Lake Reservation and was being 'watched over' and cared for by a Leech Lake Reservation resident. As volunteers at our Surrender Event were caring for him they noticed Flash had a rotting odor and noticed an area on his rear end that was bleeding and looked severely infected. As Leech Lake Legacy did not have any volunteer vets with us at our December event we took Flash to get checked out at a vet in Bemidji where he was 'cleaned up' and given meds to treat the infection. The sweet boy just needed some time  (and TLC) to heal. Flash spent about 6 weeks in a temporary foster home with LLL (thanks Nancy and Tom!) where he spent the holidays and made himself quite at home and got lots of love and pampering :). In the middle of January, our partner Pet Haven took Flash into their foster program. Flash is now being fostered in a home with a fellow Rez 4-legged buddy, Indy who is originally from Red Lake Reservation and adopted through All Dog Rescue.

Nancy got an update on Flash for Flash's current foster, Margaret .. we just had to share :)

"Flash continues to be such a little darling. I'm sending some photos of him, the last few are photos I took of him cuddling with my Red Lake dog, Indy, this morning. They are so adorable together! Indy never snuggles with other dogs but just adores Flash. I think it may be mutual:-)

Thank you for sending his toys! He just loves his fishing rod. I think we played with it for an hour straight today.  My son thinks it's hilarious. Flash even seems to like him; he walks right up to him and rubs against him and purrs.

Thank you for all you've done for him - what a transformation!"

A big thanks to the Leech Lake resident for caring for Flash (and other stray cats on Leech Lake) and bringing him to us; to Nancy/Tom for fostering and giving Flash the time to heal; to Sandra (LLL board member who provided Flash with amazing care when he was first surrendered in Dec. 2014 and continued to be his advocate); to Pet Haven (with a special thanks to Mary Ann, Pet Haven's Cat Adoption Director); and to Margaret (Flash's current foster) ... and oh, Indy, says, 'Me too!' :)

Flash celebrates Christmas with Nancy/Tom

Where's Flash?? :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Leech Lake Legacy hosts first transport spay/neuter event on Jan. 10, 2015

Molly (post surgery) gets a 'lift' back to her kennel
Leech Lake Legacy/LLL kicked off 2015 with a new service for Leech Lake reservation residents - a transport spay/neuter event! LLL began hosting spay/neuter and wellness clinics on in Cass Lake on the Leech Lake Reservation beginning in March, 2012. All of our clinic have been hosted in collaboration with Kindest Cut, a mobile spay/neuter provider offering high volume, high quality spay/neuter services.

In the past we have never offered spay/neuter services in the winter months. At the end of 2014, Jenny Fitzer (LLL Program Director) asked the LLL Board if we could offer a one-day surgery clinic as she was getting many inquiries from residents about when our next spay/neuter clinic would be. She proposed that LLL would pick up the animals in Cass Lake and transport them down to the Twin Cities where they would be spayed/neutered by our partner Kindest Cut at their clinic in Golden Valley. The animals would spend Friday and Saturday night in the Twin Cities then would be transported back to their families on Sunday. LLL received a generous grant from Pause 4 Paws and the LLL Board easily and quickly voted that we would absolutely fund a one day transport spay/neuter event.

At our one day surgery clinic, we spayed/neutered, vaccinated and dewormed 29 animals (16 cats and 13 dogs).  Additionally, one of the dogs, Sweetheart, had an abscessed lump of quills removed from her neck.
Sweetheart goes for a potty break
Many thanks to our partner Animal Humane Society for letting us use their kennels and garage space and for hosting 29 animals for 2 nights. A big thanks to LLL volunteers who provided animal care over the weekend and a special thanks to Jenny Fitzer and Heidi Hunstad for logging over 1,000 miles in 3 days to transport precious animals.

We are also grateful to Leech Lake Reservation residents for trusting with their beloved pets ... all of them got lots hugs and kisses from our volunteers.

Stoni gets settled in on Friday night
Tiger (post surgery) 

Bentley reunited with mom and dad on Sunday :)
Molly and Chili (post surgery nap!)
Turbo and LLL volunteer Merry 'communicating' :)

Click here for more photos.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year ... and the launching of Leech Lake Legacy's new tag line.

Guest blog contributor: 
Craig Berdan, LLL Board member/treasurer and volunteer extraordinaire!

“Saving cats and dogs…because they matter.”

These words may have inspired you to become involved with Leech Lake Legacy.  We have a generous donor base and volunteer contingent due in no small part to big hearts and soft spots for cats and dogs.

Since our humble beginnings with transports in 2011, we’ve found more ways to help more animals.  Consider how our core programs have changed since then:

• Spay/neuter clinics have grown from none to eight clinic days per year, and include transport service from remote reservation communities
• Wellness clinics have grown from none to 12 clinic days per year
• Transports now occur at least once per week, and we have monthly surrender events; animals from White Earth and Red Lake reservations and surrounding communities are being served as well

But we know that spay/neuter and wellness clinics and transports and surrender events can go only so far in improving the lives of reservation animals.  While we will not stray from those core programs, we need to be open to new ways of reaching reservation animals and residents, earning and keeping reservation residents’ trust, and providing what we can to further improve the lives of reservation animal.

As communities in general struggle with issues like poverty and violence, we can see direct impact on the animals in those communities.  Healing and help is needed by both people and animals, and so you’ve seen additional efforts provided for reservation residents by Leech Lake Legacy like:

• Transport and distribution of donated pet food and cat litter
• Fundraising for and distribution of dog houses and straw
• Volunteer staffing at the Leech Lake impound
• Delivery of donated clothing and school supplies

Of course, healing and help is needed far beyond Leech Lake Reservation.  Look for Leech Lake Legacy to continue to reach out to the remote communities of Leech Lake Reservation and to assist at White Earth and Red Lake reservations.  As we work with Native America Humane Society, we hope to make Leech Lake Legacy a model organization to be replicated on other reservations.

The work we hope to do will require substantial financial resources.  Unfortunately, when people needs and animal needs compete for funding, people needs usually “win.”  We need to be mindful of the people-impact of our work by asking these questions,

How can we help reservation animals in such a way as to also improve the lives of people in the reservation community?   

How can we help people in the reservation community in such a way as to also improve the lives of reservation animals?

And so, after much reflection and discussion ... we are changing our tagline to words that more accurately reflect what we do and what we hope to do as we move forward into 2015 and beyond:

“Serving reservation animals and the people who love them.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 End of Year Letter

Cici gave birth to Gabby on Dec. 20, 2014
We would like to extend our deepest thanks for supporting us in our efforts to help the dogs and cats of Leech Lake Reservation and the surrounding communities. We would not be able to do what we do without your support.

[Photo on left: to read more about Cici's story .. click here]

Because of our generous supporters, 2014 was an amazing year for Leech Lake Legacy:

We transported and re-homed over 1,000 dogs and cats.
We hosted four spay/neuter clinics on the Reservation where 363 dogs and cats were altered. We also provided wellness checks and vaccines for another 512 dogs and cats.
We held 12 surrender events where more than 491 animals were surrendered and transferred to our partner rescues and shelters in Minnesota.
We provided emergency medical care to countless dogs and cats needing immediate attention.
We distributed 289 doghouses and bales of straw for outside Reservation dogs as a part of The Yukon Project. We also distributed cathouses for feral and community cats.
We distributed more than 50,000 pounds of dog and cat food to pet owners.
In partnership with The Native America Humane Society and other partners, we collected and distributed over 6,500 winter wear items (hats, gloves, scarves and coats) and over 1,000 school supplies for the children of Leech Lake Reservation. A special thanks to the Helen Woodward Animal Center for securing a majority of the winter wear donation.

Our goals for 2015 are even greater. We will host eight events at Leech Lake Reservation offering spay/neuter and/or wellness services.  Every month, we will host a surrender event, which provide an opportunity for residents to surrender animals for which they are no longer able to care.  We will collaborate with Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue to offer two spay/neuter/wellness clinics at White Earth Reservation.  We will continue our weekly transports of dogs and cats from the Leech Lake Impound, and will be working on education and outreach programs in partnership with the Leech Lake Tribal College. And inevitably, there will be injured animals on the Reservation who will need immediate and often expensive medical care.

In order to continue the transports, the clinics, and provide emergency care to injured animals and shelter for outside Reservation dogs and cats, we need your support. If you would like to contribute to Leech Lake Legacy, you can make an online donation at www.leechlakelegacy.org/donate or send a donation to:

Leech Lake Legacy
PO Box 385454
Bloomington, MN 55438

On behalf of the Reservation animals, we wish you Happy Holidays … and with your support, we commit to serving reservation animals and the people who love them.

Chi miigwech/Many thanks,

Marilou Chanrasmi Jenny Fitzer
President/Co-Founder Co-Founder/Program Director

Flash was surrendered to LLL on 12/13/14. He is in a temp foster home recovering from a wound.
He apparently is pretty comfy in his foster home :)
Where's Waldo ... no, Where's Flash??