*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

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Beginning

Some months back, a man was fishing on a lake in Cass Lake, Minnesota. As he came ashore and stepped out of his boat, he noticed three scruffy dogs waiting for him. They scattered as he stepped towards them but only just out of his reach. He pulled out the bait he had left over from fishing and threw it to the dogs. They hungrily wolfed down the dead, rotting fish and looked eagerly for more.

Though the dogs were probably strays, the man felt like he needed to reach out to someone and not just abandon the three hungry animals. After many calls, he finally reached the local police. After explaining the situation, the police told him that the dogs were probably strays and if they picked them up, they would be brought to the local impound and more than likely shot.

The next call the man made was to his wife, who is an avid dog lover. With no hesitation, his wife jumped in her car and made the three-hour trek to Cass Lake. She brought the three dogs home with her and after many attempts, was able to find a local rescue group to take the dogs.

The wife did some research and found out that the area where her husband found the dogs was on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. She discovered that there were no humane societies or animal rescue groups on the Reservation and most stray dogs were brought to the animal impound where they met the same fate that the three strays had faced.

For the next several months, the woman made many six-hour round trips to the Leech Lake impound where she loaded up her car with stray dogs and transported them back to the Twin Cities. Two local rescue groups took them in and the number of dogs saved by this Angel continued to grow.

However, every one of the dogs that came from the Reservation needed full vetting, including vaccinations and spaying/neutering. Many of them also had heartworm or Lyme’s disease, so eventually, because of the cost, the rescue groups could not take in any more dogs.

The woman became desperate. She knew that if she stopped rescuing these dogs, they would die. She had heard of an amazing woman named Karen Good, who runs Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue on the Red Lake Indian Reservation (Red Lake Rosie’s is a non-profit animal shelter dedicated to rescuing stray animals and finding them forever homes.

The woman sent Karen the following email:

To: Karen Good
Subject: Cass Lake Dogs
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2011 23:54:36 +0000

Hi Karen

My name is Lisa. I spoke to you this fall in regards to the impound up on Cass Lake reservation. I have been going up there for the past 6 months I have brought back about 30 dogs. Homeward Bound has taken almost all of them. These guys have all been such wonderful dogs!!!

You are probably wondering why I am contacting you. I need some help Karen. I have been making the 4 hour trip up there myself and also trying to find foster for all these poor dogs. Homeward Bound bless their hearts can't keep taking all these dogs themselves.

I would appreciate any direction or guidance you could offer me. I can't turn my back on what I see up there, but I can't do all this myself anymore.

Karen you are very well known and respected by the rescue organization for all you do and have done. So I'm asking the best of the best for some advice.

Thank you Karen

Karen forwarded Lisa’s email to her animal-loving friends.

And that’s where I came in.

After reading the email from Karen, I thought “How sad for those poor animals, I hope someone will help them” and closed it.

But as I went through my day, the email kept popping back into my head. I first started to worry that no one would help them. Then I thought about forwarding the email to other people I knew who might want to help. And finally, I just thought “What the hell am I waiting for? I can help them.”

I emailed Karen and Lisa with my offer of help. Lisa and I had a long conversation that night and starting working on a plan to make an initial trip to the Reservation to see how I could help.

Lisa and I and four other volunteers made a trip to Leech Lake on May 7. We met with Rory, the animal control officer and two of the tribal policeman. They were all very excited that we were there and willing to help them find other options for the dogs.
Julie, Heidi, Diane, Lisa, Jenny

We transported nine dogs back to the Cities that first day. One of the dogs, Madeline, was a VERY pregnant, filthy, underweight, tick-covered St. Bernard who would not fit in any of the kennels we had brought. She ended up riding in the back of my car. She was a very patient passenger and only tried climbing into the middle seat a couple of times during the three-hour ride home.

A very pregnant Madeline
 Since that first trip to Leech Lake, we have transported 34 dogs off the Reservation. All but two of them have gone to rescues or fosters and been adopted or are in foster homes. The other two moved on to the Rainbow Bridge. I will tell some of their stories in future blogs.

I do want to take this time to thank everyone who has helped to save the lives of these dogs – from Rory, the animal control officer in Leech Lake – to his girlfriend who happily vaccinates the dogs – to the volunteers who transport food and dogs – to the rescues and individuals who have donated supplies – to the rescues/fosters and the Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley who have so willingly stepped up to take in these dogs – and to everyone who has offered their advice when I haven’t known where to turn.

This could not and cannot happen without this village we have created.

Together, we can do amazing things.
Together, we can save lives.
Together, we can make a difference.

Thank you again to everyone who has helped so far and everyone who has offered their help in the future.

And thank you for reading this Blog and spreading the word about Leech Lake.

I look forward to seeing you again soon.

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