*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

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!

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