Rescues | Rescues Rescues en-us Fri, 16 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 Fri, 16 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 Orion <![CDATA[The Beagle Freedom Project Gives Retired Lab Dogs Forever Homes]]> As a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, the Animal Rescue Media Education group (ARME) works to eliminate the suffering of all animals. One way it does this is through the Beagle Freedom Project.

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According to Kevin Chase, vice president for the project, it exists to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome animals from laboratories around the world. By sharing stories of individual animals rescued, it is able to "promote and provoke a public conversation about animal testing and our moral obligations toward these animals who suffer and endure so much for our ostensibly benefit." 

Chase, who has adopted two former lab Beagles himself, explains that many people don't realize that dogs are still being used as test animals in the United States.

Beagles are the breed of choice for laboratories for the same reason they make great family pets. They are docile, people pleasing, forgiving, and easy to take care of. Although the Beagle Freedom Project will, and has, rescued other dog breeds as well as other animals -- including cats, rabbits, pigs, goats, guinea pigs, rats, and even goldfish -- 96 percent of dogs used in testing are Beagles.

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Kevin and his dog, Raymond. (Photo by Josh Stokes)

Taking the steps to rescue these animals is no easy task. First, a laboratory has to be convinced to release its "retired" animals. Chase explains, "We [the Beagle Freedom Project] have a policy position against animal testing. We don't like it philosophically, scientifically, even personally. We don't like it. But that doesn't mean we can't find common ground, a common-sense solution, to bridge two sides of a very controversial and polarizing debate, which is animal testing, and find this area in the middle where we can get together to help animals."

Often because of the type of testing the animal has endured, he simply cannot be released and must be euthanized for necropsy and/or tissue samples. If a dog can be released and the lab is willing, the Beagle Freedom Project will negotiate for exactly that. This usually means paying for all costs and providing all support needed, including vet care and transportation, to find him a home. The group offers to sign non-disclosure agreements so that no one beyond the rescue group knows where the animal came from; liability agreements also release the lab of anything that may happen post-rescue. 

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Beagle Freedom Project president Shannon Keith holds one of seven Beagles released from a Washington, DC-area lab. All were named in honor of the founding fathers. (Photo courtesy of BFP)

There may be a two-week or even as little as 24-hour notice for rescue opportunities. The Beagle Freedom Project has to rely heavily on its volunteers. Without a loving, stable, and far-reaching group of volunteers, the rescues cannot happen. Once a lab has agreed to a release, the Beagle Freedom Project will call all volunteers who have agreed to foster in that nearby area. On release day, fosters and animals all meet in one location.

That first meeting can be very emotional. The Beagles are brought to the location in cages from the lab and, when the doors are open, they take their first step on grass. Chase explains, "Sometimes they come barreling out of those crates. Sometimes it takes 15 to 20 minutes before they put that first paw out and begin to explore." Once the dogs have taken that first hesitant step toward freedom, they start to socialize and meet the foster families.

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After a rescue, Kevin Chase takes Beagles out of the transport van for their first taste of freedom. (Photo by Josh Stokes)

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These Beagles came from a Denver-area lab. (Photo by Susan Weingartner)

Once the dog is home, a foster's job has just begun. Everything is new for these pups. According to Chase they are "like puppies in full-grown dog bodies." These dogs have lived their entire lives, often many years, in a laboratory. They spent 23 1/2 hours out of every day in a metal cage. This cage sat inside a room with cinderblock walls, concrete floors, and florescent lights. Walking on grass, on-leash, playing with toys, sleeping on a comfortable bed, all of these are new experiences.

Some dogs respond very quickly to their new environments, but others take more time, remaining timid due to the trauma they experienced. Chase has adopted two Beagles who were once lab animals. One, Junior, spent five years in labs and yet, as Chase explains, "His first night jumped up on bed and wanted to cuddle, and that is where he has slept every night since." Junior still has some obstacles. Chase says he still doesn't play with toys. Since he was never socialized as a puppy he just never learned how.

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Barney, a rescued Beagle. (Photo courtesy of BFP)

Raymond is Chase's other dog. Raymond spent three years in a lab, and the first week at home with Chase was kept on a leash. "That was the only way to get a hold of him. He was so afraid of the human hand reaching out to him." After six to seven months of anti-anxiety medication and daily trips to the dog park or daycare for socialization, Raymond was able to acclimate and be willing to cuddle with Chase.

Beagles rescued from labs also can have other obstacles. Stairs are unknown and can take coaxing and time to use. Beagles, in general, are good with feline siblings, but these rescues are often hesitant of the new creature. Many, like Junior, just don't know what to do with toys, and others have a fascination with mirrors and their own reflection. "When I first got Raymond home," Chase explains, "I had to put a blanket over the mirror in the hall because my neighbors were complaining; he would just stare at it howling."  

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Kevin Chase carries one of nine beagles rescued from a Minnesota lab. The dogs were named in honor of legislators supporting the Beagle Freedom Bill, which would mandate the post-research release of laboratory dogs and cats. (Photo by Josh Stokes)

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Cherise was one of six Beagles rescued from a New Jersey laboratory. Here she poses at a New York City event in support of the Beagle Freedom Bill. (Photo by Ethan Wolf)

After a few weeks with a foster family, which allows for a better understanding of an animal's personality to ensure a good match, and a clean bill of health, the group will begin looking for a suitable adopting family. That is, if the dog hasn't already convinced his foster family to keep him. Even with all their emotional hurtles, Chase guesses that 70 percent of the foster families become "foster fails" and end up adopting.

As a nonprofit, the project relies on a variety of people to support its mission. Potential fosters and adopters can sign up on the Beagle Freedom Project website. Anyone interested in the work it does can get updates on its Facebook and Twitter. Finally, Chase suggests that cruelty-free shopping is the best way to help put the Beagle Freedom Project out of business -- the group has a smartphone app called Cruelty-Cutter, which allows for quick and easy access, by barcode scanner, to the animal-testing status of a company.

Read more about dogs in research labs on Dogster:

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/beagle-freedom-project-lab-animal-testing
<![CDATA[This Video is Adorable -- But the Pup's Story Could Have Been Heartbreaking]]> The video below is about taking a bath, and how good that feels sometimes. It's cuter when you watch a little puppy blissing out as the water runs over his body, but we've all been there.

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But it's also about more than just taking a bath, or your daily dose of cuteness. The pup shown, along with his siblings, came very close to becoming one of those innumerable horror stories that goes by on my daily news feed as I look for stories to write. Just watching the headlines scroll by can be a grueling start to the day.

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Somebody didn't see these dogs as cute, or even desirable. They came to DFW Rescue Me, an organization in Denton, Texas, after someone tried to get rid of them. "We got a call from Dallas Animal Services about three puppies that were abandoned in a bag found inside a dumpster in Dallas, Texas," volunteer Claire Fowler tells the interviewer. Fowler took them home with her because at this stage, the pups aren't old enough to survive without a mother. As she says: "What people don't realize is that bottle babies require a lot of time and special care. Not only do they have to be fed every two to four hours, they can't go the restroom on their own. Mom helps them with that. Since there's no mom -- well, we do everything here."

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Watching the little pup luxuriate in his bath is adorable and heart-warming enough. But when you think of what could have been for these three little guys, and look at the effort that volunteers such as Fowler put into giving them a different story -- that makes it more than another cute dog video.

Via YouTube

Read more about dogs in the news on Dogster: ]]>
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:05:00 -0800 /the-scoop/abandoned-puppy-bath-sink-cute-dog-videos
<![CDATA[Two Dogs Found Friendship in a Shelter, Then Found a Forever Home Together]]> Most shelter dogs are lucky if they find a forever family. Very few leave the shelter -- if they do leave the shelter -- with a forever friend.

The "if" in the sentence above is what makes the story of Ares and Zeus such a touching and special one. They very nearly did not make it out of the Orange County Animal Shelter in Orlando, Florida. The dogs were scheduled to be euthanized on the fourth and fifth of this month; if Ronda Chewning hadn't seen their picture on the Second Chance Rescue Facebook Page, that would be the end of their story. It would be an unremarkable end, because thousands of dogs end their stories the same way every year.

Ares and Zeus came into the OCAS one day apart from each other, and became instant friends. They've remained friends ever since, and fortunately, Chewning was able to give them a home together. "I had no plan to get any dogs, let alone two," Chewning told The Huffington Post. "We live on a tight budget, and two dogs weren't in the budget."

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And the family certainly wasn't lacking canine members. They already had two, a Miniature Pinscher and a Maltipoo. But the picture of the two dogs touched something in Chewning, and she felt that she needed to be involved in some way. She posted on Facebook that she was going to the shelter to check on the two dogs. The response she got was remarkable; not only did she get encouragement to go ahead, many people offered money if she'd go ahead and adopt them. "Everyone said get them, they would donate."

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The original picture that drew so much attention to "the boys."

It turns out that wasn't idle Internet chatter; as of now, a fundraising campaign has raised $8,050 for Ares and Zeus's medical expenses and adoption fees. The two dogs have remained inseparable in their new home. "They are still connected at the hip. They walk side by side," Chewning says. "They even eat side by side."

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Ares, Zeus, and one other furry member of the household.

When Chewning first took Ares and Zeus into her home, she intended it to be temporary, but now she's not so sure. The idea of giving them to another home makes her feel "really torn."

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Ares and Zeus have come to live with Ronda Chewning and her daughter, but their adoption has been a community matter. A Facebook Group called Ares and Zeus "The Boys" is thriving with over 12,000 likes. The community rallied around the dogs when they needed it most, just on the verge of death. Through the Internet, that same community is watching them live.

Want to donate to support Ares and Zeus's new lives in the Chewning family? Their crowdfunding campaign is still open on GoFundMe.

Via Huntington Post and Facebook

Check out more cuteness on Dogster:

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/shelter-dog-friends-ares-zeus-rescue-florida
<![CDATA[It's DOGust 1: Which Means It's Your Birthday, Shelter Pups!]]> Here at Dogster, we're big fans of celebrating "gotcha days," and by this we mean that day you were drawn in by those sad or hopeful eyes behind the bars at the shelter and made that pup a permanent part of your pack. The gotcha day oftentimes replaces an adopted dog's birthday celebration since rescues or shelters don't always have that data to share. 

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Pictured: Dogster Shasta, a proud rescue mutt.

But if you neglected to mark your calendar the day you took your dog home, fret not. For today is DOGust the first, the universal birthday of shelter dogs everywhere. Yes, yes this is a thing. And it has been since August 2008, when the North Shore Animal League declared it so:

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Pictured: Dogster Rocco, a pound pup!

"Many pet parents are known to select a random date to celebrate their adopted dog’s birthday, such as a significant occasion, a family member’s birthday, a special holiday that reflects the dog’s personality, or in many cases, the date on which they adopted the animal. Now, pet owners can truly designate a celebratory date with the unveiling of DOGust the First." 

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Pictured: Dogster Cooper Huxley, a German Shepherd-Beagle mix saved by the Midwest Dog Rescue Network.

Anyway, whether you buy it or not, we are always looking for reasons to celebrate our dogs here at Dogster, so we're into it. So, if you were looking for an excuse to give your dog an extra long walk or her favorite treat today, it doesn't get any better than this. 

To help you celebrate, we're doing a little giveaway here at HQ. If you share your rescue pup's adoption story with us in the comments below, you'll have the chance to pick up one of our limited edition summer totes (pictured below). We will pick our three favorite stories (and we'll ship worldwide to encourage our Dogsters outside the U.S. to share). 

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Take me home!

How to Enter

  1. Create a Disqus account, if you haven't already, and include a valid email. It takes just a minute and allows you to better participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs. If you already have a Disqus account, check it to ensure the account includes a valid email.
  2. Comment below using your Disqus account, telling us how your rescue or shelter dog came into your life. Bonus points for photos! Our three favorite comments win.
  3. Check your email for a “You've Won!” message from us after noon PST on Thursday, August 7. We'll give the winners two days to respond before moving on to our next favorite.
Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/dogust-1-universal-shelter-dog-birthday
<![CDATA[5 Creative Ways to Help Your Favorite Rescue]]>

At this time of year, our thoughts naturally focus on giving. And undoubtedly many of us have received requests to donate to our favorite rescues or shelters. However, during the holidays our budgets may already be stretched so thin that it can be difficult or impossible to make a financial donation. Luckily, money isn't the only thing rescues need, both now and throughout the year.

As someone who has both volunteered for and been employed by various nonprofits, I can tell you this: Volunteers are their lifeblood. Most simply could not function without generous souls who are willing to donate  their time and talents. And volunteer opportunities for rescue organizations go far beyond fostering or helping at adoption fairs. There are countless ways that you can help, especially if you have a creative bent.

Check out the following talent categories. If you fall into one of them, chances are that a shelter or rescue would be thrilled if you donated your time and talents to helping dogs find their forever homes.

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One of the four furry reasons why I volunteer.

1. Social media maven

Some people may think that anyone can tackle social media, and maybe that's true. But it takes a special talent to do it well. Most animal welfare organizations understand the power and importance of social media, but many don't have the resources to set up a Facebook page or Twitter account, much less keep it active.

If your favorite rescue doesn't have a social media presence (or if it hasn't been updated in months), offer to set one up for them or manage it for them. Talk with the director to find out what kind of posts or tweets the group would like to make. For example, does it want to cross-post animals who need rescue immediately or focus only on the animals in its care? Once you've some ground rules and established trust, the rescue will most likely be more than happy to let you be creative and run with it.

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2. Website wrangler

It seems that nowadays in order to be considered a credible, trustworthy business or organization, you need a website. Yet there are still some rescues that either don't have a website or the website is outdated or difficult to navigate. If you know your way around WordPress or, better yet, have a coding background, you have a talent many rescues desperately need.

If a website exists, offer to update it for them or to check for and fix any bugs or broken links. If they don't have a site, help them establish one. It doesn't have to be complicated or fancy. A simple, easy-to-navigate site is leaps and bounds better than no site at all.

3. Photography fiend

The great thing about this opportunity is that you don't have to be a pro or have a fancy camera to help out. If you've ever been told that the Instagram photos of your furry companion are sigh-worthy, you can probably put those skills to work helping dogs find homes. In addition to photographing adoptable animals, offer to take pictures at adoption events or at the next fundraiser. Those types of photos are invaluable for publicity and creating good will in the community, both things that are important for grants and individual donations

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4. Design diva

Do you enjoy playing around with Photoshop or InDesign? Do you dabble in art or have a passion for graphic design? If so, there are countless ways to put your talents to work. Whether it's designing a flyer for an upcoming adoption fair, creating a new logo or putting together an eye-catching Facebook timeline cover, rescues always need some sort of design work done.

5. Writing wiz

For someone who has a way with words, the opportunities to help are endless. Maybe your favorite rescue has a blog but the last post was from May 2002. Perhaps it needs a press release for an upcoming event or help with a fundraising letter. They might appreciate help with writing up adorable Petfinder bios that showcase the personalities of adoptable dogs. And if you have any experience writing (and getting) grants, you are worth your weight in gold.

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Now that you've established a need and how you can fill it, keep these things in mind when reaching out to your favorite shelter or rescue:

  1. Introduce yourself and say how you found out about them.
  2. Let them know you're interested in volunteering and specifically what you're interested in doing. Explain your background and attach a resume if it seems applicable.
  3. Tell them how you can help without calling their baby ugly. Don't say, "Your Facebook page is terrible. You really need help with it." Instead, let them know that you noticed their page had been dormant for awhile and that you'd love to help them keep it updated.
  4. Establish parameters and time commitment. For example, if you're offering to set up a website, let them know what it will and won't include. If you can't maintain it for them, let them know upfront but perhaps offer to train someone on it.
  5. Don't be discouraged or take it personally if you don't hear back right away. Remember, most rescues and shelters are overworked and understaffed. They are undoubtedly inundated by emails and phone calls about unwanted pets and are likely juggling many balls at once. If they don't respond within a week, send a friendly follow-up email as a reminder. 
  6. Don't give up. If your first choice can't use your talents, there is most definitely one out there that can. When you find the right match for your talents, it's a win-win for everyone.

Your turn: Have you volunteered your time or talent to a shelter or rescue? Tell us about it in the comments!

About the Author: Amber Carlton is owned by two cats and two dogs (all rescues), and is affectionately (?) known as the crazy pet lady amongst her friends and family. She and her husband (the crazy pet man) live in colorful Colorado where they enjoy hiking, biking and camping. Amber owns Comma Hound Copywriting and also acts as typist and assistant for Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She encourages other crazy pet people to connect with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Fri, 20 Dec 2013 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/help-your-favorite-rescue-5-ways
<![CDATA[A Look Inside Bark-N-Rest, a Retirement Home for Former Death Row Dogs]]> Tiny, frail Jordan is almost 20 years old, has no teeth or a lower jaw, and is blind in one eye. She was dumped at a shelter in 2012 and scheduled to be euthanized.

Minnie, who is between 12 and 14 years old, was surrendered to a shelter in 2013 with a tumor in her belly that weighed as much as she did: three pounds. The little Chihuahua also had mammary cancer, likely from being overbred.

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And while Chance may not be a senior dog, the young shepherd suffers from advanced cerebellar hypoplasia; he's missing 95 to 98 percent of his cerebellum. When he was left at a shelter in Fort Worth, Chance was unable to eat or drink on his own, couldn't walk, and his little bobble head would knock into the metal walls of his cage from his lack of coordination.

All three dogs were deemed unadoptable and were going to be put down.

But then a miracle happened.

And that miracle was Dawn Enriquez, founder of Bark-N-Rest retirement center and hospice for senior, special needs, and terminally ill dogs. She rescued Chance, Minnie, and Jordan from death row and brought them to Bark-N-Rest to be cared for, and most importantly, loved.

Since 2009, Enriquez and her small team of volunteers (including a volunteer groomer) have rescued 36 death row dogs, three of which were later adopted out as healthy seniors. Twenty-two dogs have passed, and the remaining 11 are being cared for at one of Bark-N-Rest's three foster homes in Texas.

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Camera shy Enriquez with Bark-N-Rest's current residents. From top left (then down and around): Spanky, Jordan, Sugar, Mr. Moose, Baily, Minnie, Buddy, China, Sally, Chance and Bebe.

Bark-N-Rest was started after Enriquez's dog, Gidget, died from cancer. Gidget, who was adopted by the Enriquez family from a shelter in 2007, had been listed as young and healthy. Unfortunately Gidget was actually neither young nor healthy; she was riddled with disease and very fragile. 

Enriquez did everything she could to give her ailing senior dog a good quality of life, and when Gidget passed in 2009, the idea for Bark-N-Rest was born. "I decided from this point on, I would only take in the terminally ill, deaf, blind, senior, and all-age special-needs dogs with life-altering disabilities that one one else wants," she says.

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Community living at Bark-N-Rest. The biggest resident, China (who is deaf and has some neurological issues), sleeps next to the smallest, Jordan.

Unlike other rescue groups that often deal with younger, healthier, and adoptable dogs, Enriquez is regularly faced with the decision to send her "residents" to the Rainbow Bridge when it becomes the most humane thing to do. She can never really know how long she'll have with each dog, but believes that for most, the time they spend at Bark-N-Rest is often the only time in their lives that they've ever felt loved and secure.

"For me, it is much sadder for them to die alone, scared, confused and suffering in a shelter as just part of another day-to-day process. It's worse than me having to make the call to send them peacefully with care and love to the Rainbow Bridge," she explains.

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In memory of Heather, a beautiful spaniel whose cancer was far too advanced to be treated. Enriquez rescued her and Heather spent her final days surrounded by love and compassion, and not alone in a shelter cage.

The dogs all come from high-kill shelters as owner surrenders or strays with conditions that would make most of them unadoptable. But thanks to Bark-N-Rest -- whose priority is to rescue the oldest and most disabled, and those who are terminally ill -- dogs like Minnie and Chance do not have to die alone and unloved. "We take those who won't recover but still need and deserve quality of life for what time they have," Enriquez says, but she also makes sure to always choose quality of life over longevity. "I won't allow dogs to suffer or go through painful procedures if the prognosis is too poor. It's not fair."

And while in the care of the foster families ready and willing to go the extra mile for Bark-N-Rest's special residents, the dogs are made to be as comfortable and safe as possible. In Enriquez's home where she fosters some of the dogs with neurological issues and arthritis, there are carpets with thicker padding, baby gates to block off stairs and thick, industrial nonskid fatigue mats for dogs like Chance (who requires round-the-clock, hands-on care).

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The smaller dogs travel to and from the vet in this double stroller. Enriquez also has the "Bark-N-Rest" mobile, a utility van specially equipped to transport the dogs safely and comfortably.

Thanks to the care and unconditional love they receive at Bark-N-Rest, the residents often blossom from sad and depressed dogs into happy, thriving ones with a new lease on life.

Since arriving at Bark-N-Rest (following a short stay at Texas Star Rescue), sassy senior Jordan now has an appetite as big as her diva personality. Enriquez says she loves to lay around in the sun and walk around in the yard.

"Miss" Minnie underwent surgery to remove the mass in her tiny belly and it bought her some time and a better quality of life. She has terminal cancer, but will never have to worry about passing away alone, scared, and unloved. According to Enriquez, Minnie hates being left by herself for even a minute and her cry sounds like a newborn baby. She likes getting her way!

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Little Minnie had to undergo surgery to remove the massive growth in her belly, but the surgery was a success and today she's all smiles!

And despite missing almost all of his cerebellum (a case so severe it's the first time documented in a live dog), Chance is defying medical odds and thriving in his new home. He must be fed and watered by hand, as well as be kept on soft surfaces because of his floppy head, but the young dog is expected to have a normal lifespan. He goes to swim therapy in a canine rehabilitation and conditioning center, and Enriquez reports that he's happy and he wags his tail. Chance even has his own Facebook page, where fans can read his story and follow his progress.

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It's hard to believe just by looking at him that Chance is a actually a medical marvel. He likes to lounge in the sun and play like any other dog.

But when it comes to taking care of multiple special needs and terminally ill dogs, funding is always a challenge. "Our average costs are around $800 per month, and many grants are only for healthy and adoptable animals," Enriquez says. "So few funding sources, other than private fundraising, are available for the forgotten ones."

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Bark-N-Rest resident cutie, Mr. Moose.

Most of Bark-N-Rest's residents will never be adopted out, but none ever have to worry about going back to a shelter. No matter their age or medical condition, all the dogs have a forever home at Bark-N-Rest.

"Any amount of time we have with them is a success, and a second chance to feel they matter and are loved."

If you'd like to learn more about Bark-N-Rest and its residents, please visit its website and Facebook page. In addition to monetary donations (including an option to sponsor a specific resident), Enriquez says that food, supplies and beds are always needed and welcomed.

All photos via Bark-N-Rest's Facebook page and courtesy of Dawn Enriquez.

About Crystal Gibson: A child-sized Canadian expat in France who is fluent in French and sarcasm. Owned by a neurotic Doxie mix, a Garfield look-alike, and two needy Sphynx cats. An aspiring writer and pet photographer with a love of coffee and distaste for French administration, she can be found blogging over at Crystal Goes to Europe.


Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at 

Read more about senior and special-needs dogs: 

Tue, 17 Sep 2013 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/bark-n-rest-retirement-home-dogs
<![CDATA[Can You Look at Dunkin the Rescue Dog and Not Be Heartbroken? Impossible]]>
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Found wandering the backroads of Alabama, Dunkin's chances of survival seemed dismal at best.

His belly was full of nails and he was unable to hear or see due to birth defects. Rescuers suspect Dunkin was used as a bait dog before being disposed of like garbage. He immediately underwent surgery to remove the nails from his stomach, but it was only the beginning of his incredible journey of recovery. His stomach cleared, Dunkin required more surgery to prevent further damage to his eyes. Neurological testing revealed that Dunkin suffers from damage that requires him to use a wheelchair to get around. 

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Dunkin takes time to smell the flowers.

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Dunkin is a hero.

In December 2012, vets diagnosed Dunkin with megaesophagus, meaning that the Rhodesian Ridgeback mix has to eat a strict diet and eat a certain way in order to obtain his sustenance. He is also plagued with a degenerative disease that will probably cut his life shorter than the lives of most other dogs.

And Dunkin is only a year old.

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Dunkin has to use a special chair in order to eat.

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Dunkin's family had a ramp built for him.

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Cool Doggles, Dunkin!

Though Dunkin's days may be limited, he's making the most of what time he does have. Thanks to the rallying efforts of dog lovers, Dunkin has a forever home in New York now, who was able to fund all his medical needs.

And did we mention he's totally adorable?

Just look at this smile.

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Too cute!

Dunkin has overcome tremendous hardships, and his story is one of hope and perseverance. Dunkin uses his newfound following as a platform to advocate for the rights of animals. I know his prognosis is grim, but I hope Dunkin will be with us for a little while longer.

Follow Dunkin's continued progress on Facebook and let him know you love him.

Photos via Dunkin's Facebook page

Read about other Monday Miracles right here on Dogster:

About Liz Acosta: Dogster's former Cuteness Correspondent, Liz still manages the site's daily "Awws," only now she also wrangles Dogster's social media. That's why she wants you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and -- her personal favorite -- Instagram. See ya there!

Mon, 19 Aug 2013 06:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/blind-deaf-disabled-dog-rescue-dunkin-rhodesian-ridgeback
<![CDATA[Dogster Hero: Happy Tails Rescue Has Saved More than 500 Small-Breed Dogs]]> Imagine falling terribly sick and then being abandoned to die alone. That's what happened back in 2005 for a Bichon Frise battling an aggressive form of cancer who was surrendered to a shelter in Toronto, Canada. The little dog was thought to be about 10 years old, but was likely much younger and had suffered from years of overbreeding before being dumped at the shelter. Cancerous mammary tumours were taking over her body, and it was believed that she didn't have much longer to live. Taken with the fluffy white dog's endearing personality, the shelter staff decided to find a way for her to finish her days in a loving home and not alone in a shelter cage.

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The sweet but sick Bichon was taken in by foster mom Judianne Keep from Happy Tails Rescue, a registered nonprofit group in southern Ontario for small non-shedding, hypoallergenic breeds -- principally, the Bichon Frise and Maltese.

Happy Tails is a very small rescue group with two volunteer directors helping President Carol Thorpe. This team of dedicated women work with a handful of foster families throughout southern Ontario to save and rehome small dogs.

In Keep’s care, the sick Bichon -– now named Fuzzi -– began to thrive. Completely won over by her vivacious character, Keep decided to adopt Fuzzi and take on all her medical expenses. Fuzzi’s sweet nature and determined spirit inspired Happy Tails Rescue to name her as their mascot and dog ambassador.

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One of the happier moments for Keep and Fuzzi. Photo courtesy of Happy Tails Rescue.

Fuzzi's cancer did come back, and sadly, she passed away in 2010, but thanks to Keep and Happy Tails, the little dog that had been left at a shelter was able to enjoy the last years of her life surrounded by love.

Happy Tails Rescue was founded in 1999 by Leslie Remenek, who, when searching for a Bichon Frise rescue group in Canada and not finding one, started her own with a friend’s help. Since then, Happy Tails has been able to find loving families for more than 500 small breed dogs, with an encouraging 99 percent success rate in placing these dogs in their new forever homes via listings on Petfinder’s nationwide “Adopt a Homeless Pet” program.

In addition to listing their fostered dogs on Petfinder, Happy Tails Rescue likes to participate in local events to promote its group, find new foster families, and visit with former adopters and their dogs. They recently set up a booth at Woofstock in Toronto, the largest outdoor festival for dogs in North America, which attracts up to 300,000 dog lovers during the event's two-day run.

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Happy Tails Rescue's booth at the recent Woofstock festival in Toronto, Canada. Photo courtesy of Happy Tails Rescue.

And while Happy Tails will make exceptions for “shedding pups” in great need of help, they remain a rescue group focused on fostering and rehoming Bichons and Maltese (purebreds and crosses) who come to them as owner surrenders (or following an owner’s death), as strays, from puppy mills, and, like in Fuzzi’s case, through the collaboration of local shelters and SPCAs who reach out to find foster families for as many dogs as they can.

“Rescues are often breed-specific because different breeds exhibit specific traits. Happy Tails Rescue tends to attract members who are dog lovers, but who also tend to have allergies to shedding dogs, and have discovered the joy of non-shedding, hypoallergenic breeds,” Keep notes.

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Photo courtesy of Happy Tails Rescue

Many of the dogs who come to Happy Tails Rescue are seniors or in need of palliative care, and the small network of volunteers and fosters will often pay all food, grooming, and medical expenses out of their own pockets if donations cannot cover these costs. According to Keep, Happy Tails' adoption fees rarely cover the costs of vetting (dental work in particular) and rehabilitation, but the group remains completely committed to dogs they rescue and each one is given medical attention if needed, and is spayed/neutered and immunized before being placed in a pre-screened, carefully chosen adoptive family.

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Happy Tails Rescue helped Mikey get back on all four feet and found him a loving new home. Just look at his smile! Photo courtesy of Happy Tails Rescue.

Unfortunately, most rescue groups find it difficult to adopt out dogs like Fuzzi who require ongoing care, and so Happy Tails tries to encourage potential adopters to look past a dog's age or special needs and see what a wonderful pet he or she could make.

"These dogs can give so much love and companionship. The older dogs might not be with us for long, but that time can be priceless," Keep says.

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Fuzzi was able to enjoy the end of her life in the lap of luxury and far from a lonely shelter cage. Photo courtesy of Judianne Keep.

And while rescue work can certainly be daunting and overwhelming at times, Happy Tails Rescue has many happy tales to share.

Keep remembers Luna, a Bichon Frise that Happy Tails saved from a high-kill pound when it was discovered that she was full of bladder stones. Keep ran to pick up the little dog who was “a matted, smelly mess” and rushed her to a Toronto vet. Luna had to have emergency surgery to remove the 39 stones in her tiny bladder, and the vet told Keep that the dog probably wouldn’t have made it another day had she been left at the shelter.

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A sad Luna before being groomed to clean up her dirty, matted coat and operated on to remove painful bladder stones. Photo courtesy of Happy Tails Rescue.

But little Luna bounced back and went on to be adopted by a child psychologist who wanted a family pet, but also one that could act as a therapy dog for his young patients. “Luna is now loved and cared for, but also goes to work with her 'dad' every day and lets kids who have had something traumatic happen to them hug and pet her,” Keep says.

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Luna visiting with Keep at a Happy Tails Rescue reunion event. Photo courtesy of Happy Tails Rescue.

Along with saving dogs from kill shelters, finding new homes for the beloved pets of the elderly is another aspect of Happy Tails Rescue's efforts of which Keep is particularly fond. “It’s devastating for an elderly person having to go into a nursing home, but to have to give up their dog is horrible,” she says.

When Keep and her team take in one of these dogs, they make sure to keep in touch with the previous owner and let them know how the dog is doing in its foster home. When the dog is adopted, “we beg our new adopters to always keep us updated on our babies so we can also send the information to the former owner, too," she says. "It’s a warm feeling being able to help in this way."

If you'd like to learn more about Happy Tails Rescue and ways to help, please visit the group's website.

About Crystal GibsonA child-sized Canadian expat in France who is fluent in French and sarcasm. Owned by a neurotic Doxie mix, a Garfield look-alike, and two needy Sphynx cats. An aspiring writer and pet photographer with a love of coffee and distaste for French administration, she can be found blogging over at Crystal Goes to Europe.

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/happy-tails-dog-rescue-small-breed-dogs
<![CDATA[Billy the Puppy Mill Rescue Dog Has Passed Away]]> Billy's tale is one of horror and of hope. When Billy was rescued by Humane Society of the United States member Adam Parascandola from a deplorable puppy mill site, vets on the scene gave the Chihuahua mix a body condition score of 1 -- the very worst an animal can receive. Billy was severely underweight, his bottom jaw was missing, and his rusted cage door had to be forced open, suggesting that the dog had never once stepped foot outside. Despite his troubled beginnings, once Billy was freed, he gently and gratefully rested his head on Parascandola's shoulder, sealing their fate. Parascandola ended up adopting Billy and shared their moving story during the holidays.

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This is the state rescuers found Billy in.

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We don't rescue them, they rescue us.

The video made us cry happy tears.

And now we might shed some sad tears. The light of Billy's loving spirit could not outshine the injuries he sustained during his puppy mill beginnings -- the little dog passed away suddenly, shortly after the new year, succumbing to medical complications brought on by the neglect he suffered.

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Billy got to spend the rest of his days in peace.

Parascandola has released a new video discussing the loss of Billy, and in it, he appears near tears as he talks about Billy's legacy.

But we choose to see Billy's existence as valuable -- in his own way, Billy has become an ambassador for other dogs languishing in wired cages empty of love and care. Don't let the light of Billy's life go out. Let's always remember what we can do to improve the lives of dogs everywhere.

Via the Humane Society of the U.S. 

Fri, 18 Jan 2013 08:03:00 -0800 /the-scoop/billy-puppy-mill-rescue-dog-chihuahua-passed-away
<![CDATA[Everybody Wants to Adopt Lucy the Rescued Pit Bull]]> It's been a strangely eventful Pit Bull Awareness Month thus far, with two serious setbacks -- a careless gaffe on morning TV and an outright tragedy in Pennsylvania -- casting a pall on the positive vibes this monthlong event was supposed to create. Now, here's some new news: A rescue group that specializes in Pit Bulls says "no thanks" to the majority of people who've stepped forward to adopt one of their rescues. What's up with that?

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You heard right. The New York City-based rescue Stray from the Heart -- which is having a Pups on the Runway Halloween Costume Ball fundraiser on Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. -- has rescued and rehomed hundreds of sweet Pit Bulls. Like all selective rescue groups, Stray from the Heart has more than its share of sweet Pitties available for adoption. But there's one sweetie who seems to touch hundreds of people. And some of those people -- like the folks who infamously had eyes only for dogs orphaned by 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, yet overlooked thousands upon thousands of other worthy shelter dogs -- insist that Lucy is the only dog for them. They want her.

She is a head-turner, to be sure. Lucy was found in Colombia by a Good Samaritan, who reached out to fellow dog lovers online about the emaciated dog he took into his home. That's how Lucy came to the attention of a concerned Stray from the Heart volunteer. The dog had been bred numerous times; her body was covered in wounds. On top of that, evidence that she was savagely kicked is written all over poor Lucy's disfigured face: Her upper and lower jaws point in opposite directions. This gives her a distinctive look, to say the least.

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Lucy flew to New York on Continental Airlines, which deserves an enthusiastic plug for transporting this Pittie. She was seen by several vet specialists, who confirmed that, because Lucy is not in any pain and can eat and perform all other vital functions just fine the way she is, there's no need to put her through the ordeal of rebreaking her jaw just to reset it. This fetching funny-face has been thriving in her foster home, under the care of another SFTH volunteer who's a professional dog trainer.

When the dog's photos were posted online, on The Featured Creature blog and elsewhere, hundreds of eager calls flooded Stray from the Heart, with some people fully expecting Lucy -- even after all she'd already been through -- to be loaded back onto a plane and shipped clear across the country. When Silberg explained why she won't do this, some of the do-gooders were shocked that their show of pity for this Pittie were refused.

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"We spoke to some lovely people who were touched by Lucy," Silberg says. "But too many would not be able to meet Lucy a couple times, giving Lucy a chance to get to know them. They were too far away for a house visit and slow transition, which is what we felt Lucy needed. We explained that Lucy loved having an enclosed backyard where she could explore and feel safe. They were disappointed, but most understood; some were even open to looking into other adoptable Pit and Pit mixes more locally. But there were some who, even knowing everything we were doing to make sure Lucy would not be traumatized by the move, were pissed off they couldn't take her. I think those were the ones who wanted her for all the wrong reasons. For attention to themselves."

So here, for the record, is Stray from the Heart's official position on Lucy: She's already been rescued. She's safe now. No one will hurt her ever again. What Lucy needs is an adopter with no other dogs or perhaps one small dog (due to all that forced breeding, Lucy is not comfortable with dogs her own size or larger, but she is learning to get along with short members of her species).

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The person who gets to adopt Lucy ideally lives in or within two hours of Madison, Connecticut, so that he or she can conveniently pay Lucy a few visits, to get to know her before bringing her home. Stray from the Heart also requires a home visit prior to adoption, and is happy to wait as long as it takes -- even years, even forever -- until it finds just the right home for Lucy. There's no rush. She's very happy where she is.

In the meantime, here's what Silberg recommends to the kind souls who want to help: Please don't set your sights solely on Lucy because of how she looks. View her instead as a symbol of all unwanted Pit Bulls, everywhere, who are misunderstood and perceived as "ugly" -- and feel some compassion for them. Then put that compassion into action by going to your local animal shelter to adopt one of the lovely Pit Bulls there on death row, regardless of how imperfect, perfect, or (more likely) perfectly imperfect they look.

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"Not all Pit Bulls wear their wounds on the outside like Lucy does," Silberg reminds us. "Many of them are scarred on the inside, but they want to love and be loved again. If you adopt one Pit Bull, you're helping the cause of all Pit Bulls, Lucy included. That's what Lucy teaches us all."

Thu, 25 Oct 2012 03:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-adoption-rescue-lucy-pit-bull
<![CDATA[Linda Blair Is an Angel to Demonized Dogs]]>
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Thanks to her unforgettable star turn as a possessed child in the horror-film classic The Exorcist, Linda Blair will forever be linked with scary stories. Weaker souls might have buckled under the strain of the "demon girl" image, but Blair has turned her demonic image on its satanically spinning head.

How? By being an angel to "scary" dogs that are too often demonized by the popular media and the public: Pit Bulls.

Pit Bulls experience prejudice, just as she did. "That's why I fight for the underdog," says Blair.

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Linda Blair with Tequila the pittie.

Like so many dog lovers who've had one special encounter with a loyal, loving Pit, Blair's world was changed one day when a sweet, stray brindle began following her.

"The media had conditioned me to be afraid that this dog would kill me, but in fact he was asking for my help," she recalls.

The dog followed her home, then pitched camp in her heart. More than a pet, Sunny the Pit Bull was a teacher, and he opened Blair's eyes to the plight of the many irrationally feared dogs just like him.

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Jetty and her five-week-old pittie pups were saved by the Worldheart Foundation.

That experience, and what she saw while volunteering in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, motivated her to create the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, a nonprofit that operates a sanctuary for homeless dogs in the California desert.

To date, she has rescued and rehomed hundreds of dogs of all stripes, and has helped raise awareness of spay-neuter, animal abuse and neglect, and the plight of those woefully misunderstood breeds, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier -– collectively referred to as Pit Bulls. As a former child actor, Blair can appreciate the Pit Bull's legacy as a dependable, stalwart friend to kids, and points to Petey of Our Gang as a fine specimen. At the foundation, every month is Pit Bull Awareness Month!

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Linda with Betty and Tiny Tim at a Halloween fundraiser.

Blair is constantly on the go on behalf of rescued dogs: hosting adoption events, exercising the rescues, decorating the digs ("designing on a dime for dogs," she calls it), making appearances, and speaking. Just this morning she was the subject of a profile by Jill Rappaport on NBC's Today. Amazingly youthful-looking at 53, Blair credits her good looks to her compassion for animals. And she embraces a strictly vegan diet -- she even penned a lifestyle book titled Going Vegan.

The plight of homeless animals keeps her busy figuring out creative ways to help. "Animal shelters used to be places where families went to adopt a pet," Blair says. "Now, they've become places where people abandon their animal companions because they can't afford pet food or vet care." With the belief that this appalling trend needs to change, Blair is doing her part to raise awareness that each of us can make a difference -- it's as easy as adopting from the nearest animal shelter. To those who ask what they can do to help, she says, "If you adopt from your local shelter, you're helping."

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LBWF runs entirely on donations -- as the Today show put it, Blair is "living from hand to dog's mouth" -- and in these hard economic times, running a sanctuary can be tough; recently, she faced down foreclosure. So Blair is resourceful in doing everything she can to raise funds for her foundation's rescued dogs, and for other dogs in need locally and nationally.

She's teamed up with Haunts Against Hunger, a nationwide food-drive movement that harnesses Halloween excitement to "scare away hunger." Says Haunts Against Hunger's Thom Kramer, "Linda has long been recognized as a talented actress, humanitarian, and animal lover. Linda made the suggestion that not only should we collect human food, but also collect food for animals in need at local pet shelters. Starting this year, Haunts Against Hunger drives will also collect food for pets in need in the spirit of the Worldheart Foundation. Linda is also helping us lead the charge to bring the food drive to a national level. Linda is an inspiration to us all."

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One of the Worldheart Foundation's happy rescue pitties learns how to play.

To help support Blair's foundation for rescued dogs, she also collaborated with Reader's Digest to promote the Be Afraid of the Dark movie collection, a perfect kit for wicked Halloween parties. And on Oct. 30, she'll be a guest of honor at a fundraiser for New Jersey's Vet-I-Care, which offers grants to people who can't afford medical care for their pets' emergency needs.

"I want to make it go national!" she says with enthusiasm.

And knowing Linda Blair, there's no doubt it will.

For more information, visit the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation web site and Facebook page. Follow the foundation on Twitter at @LindaBlairWHF.

Fri, 12 Oct 2012 09:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/linda-blair-pit-bull-dog-rescue