*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

Sunday, January 15, 2012

So You Want to Be an Animal Rescuer?

Thursday, January 5, 2012, 4:50 a.m.

I am awaked by the screaming of my alarm.  I’m already rolling over to hit the snooze button when I remember I’m not going to work today.  I’m driving up to Leech Lake Reservation to transport a carload of dogs back to the Cities.

6:08 a.m. – Finally on the road with a fully loaded car.  Crates, towels, pee pads, leashes, etc., etc.  Still need to stop and get gas and coffee.

9:15 a.m. – Stop to pee and fill up the car again.  Don’t want to have to stop on the way home since I will have canine passengers.

9:40 a.m. – Arrive at the Leech Lake Impound in Cass Lake, Minnesota.  Open the door and am met with the familiar smells of poop and bleach.  Dogs begin barking and howling immediately.  I see three dogs (Bly, Bena and Boo) I was expecting and one dog I was not expecting.  It’s a black lab puppy and I name him Bob.  I contact Jean from the rescue who is taking Boo and she tells me she would be happy to also take Bob.  I finish filling out my paperwork for these four while I wait for Rory (the Animal Control Officer) to arrive.  I will be spending the morning with Rory on his regular run to pick up animals.
10:15 a.m. – Rory and I get into his truck and head out to the first stop on his list.  Someone has two dogs they want to surrender.  Rory knocks and knocks on the door and the resident finally answers.  He steps outside and looks somewhat surprised when he doesn’t see the dogs.  “They were just here a minute ago.”  I will hear that phrase many times this day.  We leave without the dogs, telling him we will come back later.

10:40 a.m. – Arrive at house #2 where there is supposed to be a Chihuahua that someone wants to surrender.  Lots of knocking before a woman answers.  “The dog was just here…”  Turns out the dog is at her dad’s house – just across the street.

10:50 a.m. – Arrive at Dad’s house.  We are met in the driveway by two large German shepherds and a beautiful brindle Pittie puppy.  Dad has told us the Chihuahua could be anywhere.  We walk around the house and the yard, looking under things and in things but no luck.  Rory calls Dad again about the other three dogs and Dad tell us we can take the Pittie – which we do.

11:20 a.m. – After dropping the Pittie off at the Impound, we head out again.  We swing by the two sites that are available for our first spay/neuter clinic we are planning for March.  Rory tells me that the Tribe will fund all of the lodging and provide all of the food for the volunteers at the Clinic.  This is very good news.

Rory makes a number of phone calls to other people who have dogs they want to surrender but does not reach any of them.

11:50 a.m. – We head back to house #1, knock on the door again and this time we are successful in picking up the mother dog and her puppy.  Both of them have an obvious case of mange.  Mama looks miserable.  Her eyes are all puffy, her skin looks terrible and she is obviously exhausted.  While we are getting these two settled in their cages, a neighbor and his three dogs wander over and he asks me what happens to the dogs we take with us.  From the sound of his voice and the look on his face, he thinks I’m going to tell him that they are euthanized.  He seems very relieved when I tell him they are brought into rescues in the Cities who get them healthy and find homes for them.  He tells me he wants to surrender two of the dogs that are with him.  It is two young females – a German shepherd mix and a beautiful brindle Chow mix.  I notice both of them have some sort of skin issue.

(Mama dog with sarcoptic mange)
Side Note – I talked to Karen at Red Lake Rosie’s about the increasing number of dogs we are seeing from the Rez with skin issues.  This was her reply:

Lots of dogs relapse in cold weather - with starvation, dehydration, the immune systems are highly compromised.  Most people do not water-and in the winter- with NO SNOW and all lakes frozen, animals are severely dehydrated!! So sad as water is free and only takes a little energy.  Poor babies.  Karen

12:30 p.m. – After getting all of the dogs back to the Impound, we vaccinate them and get the new dogs settled in their kennels.  I’ve been on the phone with Jean from Carver-Scott Humane Society who is taking Bob and Boo.  She is also interested in Bosco (the itchy puppy we just picked up) but worried about him having sarcoptic mange.  She asks if I can bring him with me to the vet and have him tested.

12:50 p.m. – I’m finally on the road to Bemidji with Boo, Bob, Bly, Bena and Bosco.  When we arrive at the vet in Bemidji, I bring Bosco in with me to be tested for sarcoptic mange.  While I am waiting for the test results, the vet brings out Bindy, a black Chihuahua with an eye injury who was my original reason for visiting the vet.

1:45 p.m. – I’m back on the road again.  Bosco tested positive for sarcoptic mange which means Jean will be unable to take him.  Bosco needs to go back to the Impound in Leech Lake until I can find a place for him.  I am behind schedule and starting to feel a little stressed.  I’m also really hungry since I have not eaten since breakfast.  I dig through my bag and find some crackers which will need to suffice until dinner.

(Puppy with sarcoptic mange)
2:05 p.m. – I arrive back at the Impound to drop off Bosco only to discover that my key will not work in the door.  I call Rory – he is 45 miles away and unable to help me.  I keep jiggling my key in the lock, hoping it will work.  I want to cry.  My next call is to Nancy and Tom, my friends and Leech Lake volunteers who live in Bemidji.  I am sure they can hear the stress in my voice and Nancy does not even hesitate when I tell her what is going on.  She tells me to cover Bosco’s crate with a blanket and she will run over and get him settled in the Impound.  Once again, Nancy and Tom have saved me.

2:23 p.m. – I’m finally back on the road and heading to Animal Humane Society in Buffalo. 

5:48 p.m. - Arrive in Buffalo to drop off Bindy, Bly and Bena.  Met there by Marilou, the Leech Lake photographer.  I open up the back of the car and five dogs leap to their feet, barking hysterically.  Bindy’s crate is the closest to the door so I pull him out first.  I set him on the grass so he can go potty.  As he starts to walk, I hear a “pop” and Bindy gives a little yelp.  I look down in horror to see that the large, crusty scab that had been covering his injured eye is now on the ground.  Bindy does not seems at all concerned and continues to do his business.  When I pick him up to look at his eye, it is almost too much for my brain to handle.  I can only think of the movie “Terminator” as I Iook into the almost empty eye socket.  I cannot imagine how long this poor little guy has been living with this injury and how much pain he has been in.

6:27 p.m. - Back on the road for the final leg of my trip.

7:15 p.m. - Meet Jean from Carver-Scott HS.  Jean has agreed to take Bob and Boo.  It is our first meeting and I am thoroughly impressed with Jean.  She immediately goes into puppy mode when she pulls scared little Boo out of his crate.  I am so grateful to have made another great contact in the animal rescue world.

9:07 p.m. - Finally finished unloading the car, cleaning and breaking down the crates, emailing everyone who needs updates from the day and throwing in a load of laundry.

9:45 p.m. - Fall asleep in my baked potato.  Brush my teeth and am asleep before my head hits the pillow.
Fifteen hours.  Five dogs saved.  Another successful day.

Updates on the five dogs (as of January 15)
  • Bindy’s eye was removed on Friday, January 6.  He is recovering nicely.
  • Bena and Bly were both adopted through Animal Humane Society in Buffalo.
  • Boo and Bob were renamed Heidi and Jackson and are both in foster homes.
  • Bosco and Catori, the two dogs with sarcoptic mange, were taken in by Karen of Red Lake Rosie’s.  They are both recovering nicely.
I am most grateful to everyone who helped to make this day a success by working together on behalf of the animals.

See you soon.

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