*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

Friday, December 9, 2011

Eighteen…No Wait…NINETEEN Puppies!

I received a call this past Wednesday morning from Nancy in Bemidji who had stopped by the Leech Lake Impound with her husband Tom to drop off a dog.  When they opened up the door to the Impound (expecting to see four adult dogs wagging their tails), they were hit with an insane chorus of barking.


Much to Nancy and Tom's surprise - the Impound was FILLED with puppies of all sizes, colors and ages - all carousing happily in their own poop and crazily wagging their tails - and all of them wanting to be picked up and snuggled.


After talking to Nancy, I contacted Rory, the Animal Control Officer, who told me that 18 puppies had been dropped off at the Impound the previous evening.  He only had time the night before to vaccinate and feed them and had not yet found a minute to let me know they were there and were going to need transport to the Cities.


I knew we needed to get the puppies out of the Impound as quickly as possibly and immediately started reaching out to my Leech Lake contacts.


All of the dogs we bring down from Leech Lake are brought into Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley (AHS) where they are tested and vetted and put up for adoption.  I generally give AHS at least a few days’ notice when I am bringing critters to allow them time to prepare.


I must have sounded a little frantic when I talked to my contact at AHS – she told me she would do everything in her power to get the puppies into AHS as quickly as possible.

After many calls and emails, a transport was set up for yesterday.

  • AHS graciously found a volunteer to make the trip and also donated the use of a cargo van to transport the puppies.
  • Nancy and Tom from Bemidji went through hell and high water to get the puppies loaded in Leech Lake in time to meet the transport in Little Falls and hightail it back to work.

  • The staff at AHS met the transport and worked with us to get the puppies unloaded, vaccinated and named.  As is usual when puppies are coming in, a huge contingent of AHS staff met the transport and oohed and aahed over every one of the puppies.

  • Out photographer Marilou, met us at AHS and took pictures and video of this amazing transport.
And somehow, an extra puppy made its way onto the transport - we ended up with NINETEEN puppies!  Not really sure how THAT happened...

This transport is another shining example of just how much we can do when we work together.  Nineteen sweet little puppies will be given a chance at a better life because of the generosity of so many people.

If you happen to count the pictures of the puppies in this blog, you will note that there are only 18 pictures.  In the chaos of the intake, we neglected to get a picture of Yosemite Sam.

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this transport a success.

If you are interested in adopting any of these puppies, some of them are already up for adoption at the Golden Valley location of AHS.  You can view them online or even better, go see them in person.

And one more thing…

Marilou Chanrasmi was interviewed by Sidewalk Dog about a month ago on our efforts to help the animals up at Leech Lake Reservation. They are getting ready to send out their December e-newsletter, which will feature the following story:

I would like to send a special thank you to Meredeth, Ali and Beth at Sidewalk Dog for this fabulous story.

See you all soon.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winter and the W Transport

This past Saturday started out with such promise.  Even though the all-day transports to and from the Leech Lake Impound take a lot of hard work and planning, I have come to love these Saturdays.  At the end of each transport, I drive home with a smile on my face, knowing that I have been a part of rescuing needy cats and dogs and that this day is the first day of a better life for them.

I got on the road early and after an uneventful trip, arrived at the Impound.  Hot on my heels was Sandra, the other volunteer who had driven up from the Cities.  We opened the door of the Impound to a chorus of barks and meows.  The animals always seem to sense that transport day is a big day for them and never cease to let us know that they are happy we are there.
Winky and Wee

Today’s transport seemed easy enough on paper – waiting at the Impound were four German Shepherd/Lab mix puppies (Winnie, Wanda, Winston and Waseca), a female German Shepherd mix named Woobie, a yellow lab named Willy and three small kittens (Wee, Winky and Waffles).  Also scheduled to be on the transport was Willow, a white husky who was waiting at the Impound in Bemidji for us to retrieve her.

As we walked in the Impound, we were overwhelmed with the stench of urine and feces.  The four puppies were being housed in the bathroom of the Impound and had obviously been on their own for a while.  Feces and urine covered every inch of the floor.  The puppies of course, were ecstatic to see us, and jumped and howled to be picked up.  Nancy, Tom, Carolyn and Alyssa (the awesome volunteers from Bemidji) arrived just after Sandra and I did and immediately began the unenviable job of scrubbing out the bathroom.

Waseca and Nancy
I had picked up Wanda to carry her outside and immediately noticed a large wound around her right eye.  Part of it looked old and infected and a larger area looked fresh and raw.  I somehow sensed that Wanda’s injured eye was the beginning of a very long and hard day.

After loading the animals in kennels, we headed to the dog wash in Bemidji where one by one, the animals were unloaded and brought inside for a bath.  During the 14-mile ride to Bemidji, the wind had picked up and become very cold and bitter.  Each trip outside to retrieve animals or towels or clean kennels got colder and colder.
Willy - Patiently waiting for transport
Nancy was in the middle of bathing Woobie when I heard her gasp, “Oh Jenny, look at this, the poor girl.”  Woobie had a large, draining wound on her shoulder which looked like it had been caused by a bullet.  Had we not bathed her, we never would have found it.  Woobie had never given us any indication that she was hurt – what a brave girl.

Woobie - A very brave girl
We were late getting on the road and I knew we needed to hustle if we wanted to make it to AHS by 5:00.  Sandra was following me and we were making good time.  We stopped in Brainerd for a potty break and a snack and were quickly back on the road.  As we were leaving the gas station, I happened to glance up at the sky and I suddenly became worried about the weather.  The sky had blackened and the air smelled like snow.

I found a weather station on the radio and after listening to the forecast, I felt a pit in my stomach.  Blowing snow and slippery conditions were forecast from Brainerd to Minneapolis.  I knew the next few hours were not going to be fun.

In fact, the next few hours were hellacious.  The weather grew steadily worse the closer we got to the Cities.  Blowing snow, drifting snow, cars in ditches, areas of white out and slippery roads.  I kept two hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road and said lots of prayers that all of the humans and animals on this transport would arrive safely in Golden Valley (I heard later that there were 450 accidents in Minnesota during this storm).

We finally arrived in Golden Valley with 10 minutes to spare.  The normal trip of three and a half hours had taken almost five.  The staff at AHS was patiently waiting for us and had a large contingent of people ready to welcome the animals with a warm bed and a well-deserved dinner.

As I drove away, the stress of the day began to melt away.  I thought of the 10 animals we transported and the chance we were giving them for a new and better life.  I smiled as I drove, vowing to meet Old Man Winter head on.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Leech Lake Legacy project, whether through transports, fostering animals in your home or donating, please contact Jenny Fitzer at jennyafitzer@gmail.com.

If you are interested in adopting any of these animals, please log on to the Animal Humane Society's website.

Following is a list of Items which are always needed for Leech Lake:

Old towels
Stuffed toys (but NOT Beanie Babies or any other toy which has “beans” for a filler)
Hard rubber chew toys
Dog treats
Stainless steel food and water bowls
Paper towels
Money for emergency medical care
Gas money for transports

If you have items to donate, please contact Jenny Fitzer at jennyafitzer@gmail.com

We are now at 165 animals who have been given a second chance at a better life since our efforts began in early May to rescue and re-home the animals of Leech Lake Reservation. This has been a true collaborative effort involving many volunteers, shelters, rescues and even businesses. Special thanks to the volunteers of Leech Lake Legacy, the Leech Lake tribal police, Rory (Leech Lake ACO), Animal Humane Society, Animal Allies, Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare (MnPAW), Pet Haven Inc of Minnesota, Act V Rescue & Rehabilitation and Lucky Dog Pet Lodge

Click here to watch a video created to celebrate the 165 animals!

See you soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The V Transport and Snoopy

After a few weeks with no transports, this past Saturday (November 5), there were nine dogs and three cats patiently waiting for transport from the Leech Lake Impound to the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.

The transport crew (Lisa, Mike, Sandra and Heidi) rose early on Saturday to begin the long trek to Cass Lake.  This transport was unlike most of the other Leech Lake transports in that all of the animals needed to be bathed before they were brought into AHS.

Transport Team
Sandra, Lisa, Mike, Heidi
After loading up the dogs (Snoopy, Vader, Vandy, Veronica, Vinny, Vincent, Viola and Virgo) and the cats (Vassar, Victoria and Vicuria), the transport crew headed out to meet up with the Bemidji crew (Nancy, Tom, Carolyn and Alyssa) at the Kleen Pet Dog Wash in Bemidji.



Nancy’s comments about the dog wash:

I believe the dogs all loved this 3 on 1 attention with bath-time......one kept closing his eyes out of pure enjoyment of getting a nice rub-down.  The bathing was good for all of them on many levels.

Tom, Nancy and Carolyn bathing Vinny

Smiling Viola
Once the dogs and cats were all bathed, buffed and dried, they were loaded up in clean kennels for the ride back to the Cities.  Marilou (the photographer) and I met them at AHS to meet and photograph each of the animals and to help with unloading and check in.

Check In at AHS

Vinny and Mike
As always, every one of the dogs was as sweet as could be.  We called one of them “the Leaner”.  If you were walking her and stopped, she would instantly lean into your legs.  These dogs absolutely crave human attention and of course, we were all very happy to give it to them.

Vader (the Leaner) and Heidi
The three kittens were not as fired up about baths and transporting but they all made it safely into AHS (and Victoria has already been adopted).



Thanks again to everyone who made this possible – the transport crew, the Bemidji crew, the photography crew and AHS.

The Bemidji Crew - Carolyn, Alyssa and Nancy
(Tom is not pictured)
These 11 animals bring the total number of Leech Lake rescued animals since May to 155!

Simply amazing.


If you are interested in adopting any of these great dogs or cats, visit the Animal Humane Society’s website at http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/adoption.

See you soon.

P.S.  If you are wondering why all of the animals except Snoopy have names beginning with “V”, Snoopy is five years old and lived with a family until he came into AHS.  I thought about renaming him Voopy (so it would sound familiar and also follow my naming convention) but the intake crew at AHS would not have been happy about it.  So I left it at Snoopy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Generosity of Frank

I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of people.  Recently, an amazing Good Samaritan came into my life and I need to share his story.

We have transported over 130 animals from Leech Lake since May.  As proud as we are of this number, we also know that we will never solve the problem of dog and cat overpopulation on the Reservation until spaying and neutering becomes a common occurrence.

Northland Spay/Neuter in partnership with Animal Allies Humane Society in Duluth contacted me recently about a grant they had received for spaying/ neutering on the Reservation.  I met with them on Friday, September 30 to discuss the details and during our conversation, I discovered that the grant would only cover the cost of the surgery.  It would not cover the necessary vaccinations for the dogs and cats ($20 per animal times 27 animals equals $540).

On my way home on Friday, I was running all sorts of scenarios through my head as to where I was going to get $540 to pay for the vaccinations.  Imagine my surprise when I got home on Friday and opened my mail to find a check for $500!

Here is how that $500 came to be:

The day before I traveled to Leech Lake to meet with the animal people from Duluth, I received a call from a guy named Frank who fishes up in Cass Lake.  He told me he had recently been in Cass Lake and found a black lab puppy in a ditch.  He called all over but not surprisingly, could not find the owner.  He brought the puppy home with him but apparently, his wife had reservations about keeping the very bouncy, five-month-old puppy.

During one of the calls he made while trying to find the owner of the puppy, someone told him about "the lady who rescues dogs".  He was calling to find out if I would take the dog if he could not keep it.  Of course I told him I would.

He asked a lot of questions about how we raise money and where we get volunteers and at the end of the conversation, he asked for my address so he and his wife Bonnie could send me a donation.  I had no idea they would be sending a check for $500.

There will be 27 animals from Leech Lake being spayed or neutered in November.  And because of Frank and Bonnie, they will also receive the vaccinations that are necessary to keep them happy and healthy.

Frank and Bonnie are wonderful examples of the goodness that lives in all of us.

From the bottom of my heart – Thank you Frank and Bonnie!

And the dogs and cats thank you too.

Some of our recent transports:





Monday, September 19, 2011

Leech Lake Volunteer Opportunity

Hello all.
There is currently an effort underway to help the animals on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and we need your assistance.
A volunteer informational session will be hosted at Marilou's house in Bloomington on Sunday, September 25 from 2-4 p.m.
Please RVSP by Friday, September 23 to jennyafitzer@gmail.com or 612-437-9073.  In reply to your RSVP, I will send you Marilou’s address.
Some of the volunteering opportunities for which we need your help:
  • Transporting dogs (from Cass Lake or Motley to the Twin Cities)
  • Fostering of dogs (will discuss in more detail at the meeting)
  • Short-term fostering of special needs dogs
  • Puppy fostering
  • Donations (cash, dog food, collars, leashes, etc.)
  • Fundraising/Development (for medical and emergency needs and for spay/neuter clinics
Hope to see you all there!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thirteen Equals 100!

We traveled to Leech Lake on August 27 in a caravan of three large vehicles.  There were 19 animals that needed to be brought off the Reservation this day – 13 puppies, five adult dogs and a cat named Elliot.

As my thoughts wandered on the long drive to Leech Lake, I was thinking how great it was that we had worked out all the kinks on this whole transport/rescue thing and that my biggest challenge for this transport was finding 18 decent dog names that started with the letter “L” (apparently, I was forgetting that the 13 puppies we were picking up would be under my care for the next five days before they could be brought into AHS (the Animal Humane Society).

We arrived at the Impound and began our usual assessment of the dogs – size, personality, can they ride in a crate with another?  It was not a hard decision with the 13 puppies – Laddie, Lancelot, Larry, Lazarus, Legacy, Lenny, Lilah, Loretta, Lorraine, Lotus, Luigi, Lulu and Luna – all 13 would easily fit in a large kennel.

As I moved the puppies from their kennel at the Impound to their traveling kennel, there were a couple of them who seemed much smaller than their siblings.  As I continued to handle them, I became worried – many of them seemed underweight and most of them had huge bellies – a sure sign of worms.



We loaded up the puppies and the five adults - Lady Bug, Leona, Lonny, Lucian and Slim - and began our trip back to Minneapolis.

Lady Bug




After dropping the five adults at AHS, Marilou and I brought the 13 puppies to her house in Bloomington.  Marilou has a sweet set up for puppies – a large, concrete-floored “studio” with air conditioning and heat – perfect for 13 puppies!


The next five days were unlike any five days I had spent in my life.  The puppies became known as a unit we called the Poop Machines.  Eating, pooping, sleeping.  Eating, pooping, sleeping.  I was almost catatonic by Day 2 from lack of sleep.  I had no idea 13 puppies could eat and poop so much!

By Day 3, it was obvious that the puppies were terribly uncomfortable from all the worms in their tummies.  Their stomachs were HUGE and some of them were already pooping out worms – a sure sign that they had many, many worms in their bellies.  As much as I had hoped to avoid worming the puppies while they were under our care (we knew they would be wormed immediately upon entering AHS), we knew we had no choice.

The worms started coming out in force on the evening of Day 3.  It was like a horror movie.  Marilou held a flashlight as I pounced on each and every fresh load of worms deposited by the puppies, hoping to scoop the worms up after they were dead (because many of them were still alive when they arrived!) and before 13 excited puppies trampled through the piles.

By the end of the five days, we had probably done 15 loads of wash and filled at least 10 large garbage bags with puppy waste.  It was a bittersweet drive to AHS on D-Day – I was so looking forward to the smell of clean air and a full nights’ sleep but already missing the sweet little babies whose individual personalities I had come to know and love.

Seven members of AHS's staff met us upon our arrival - six more than probably necessary to carry the one kennel of puppies into the building.  My wonderment at this overload of people quickly vanished as each of them immediately picked up a puppy and started gushing over it.  It's amazing how quickly adults become children again when there are puppies to be loved.

These 13 puppies put our total number of Leech Lake rescued dogs at over 100!

It is amazing what we have all been able to accomplish since that first trip to Leech Lake in May of this year.

Thanks again to everyone who has been involved in this effort.  We have barely scratched the surface of the work that needs to be done at Leech Lake, but now we know it CAN be done with all of us working together.

P.S.  Three of the puppies - Legacy, Lenny and Lazarus - stayed behind at Marilou’s house where she is fostering them through Act V Rescue.  All three needed a little extra care and time to grow before they could be adopted.



If you are interested in adopting one of these three puppies – click on the link below for more information or contact me directly at jennyafitzer@gmail.com.

And click here to watch a video of the puppies (created by Marilou).