Next month I turn 45. This birthday marks 35 years that I have been rescuing dogs. You may wonder how I can claim to know the exact date. It’s because on my 10th birthday, just after having my second piece of Carvel ice cream cake, I took my dog Beau out for a walk. We were living in Massachusetts and it was a typical cold February night. Beau and I did a quick loop around the neighborhood and as we were heading back home, I heard a tiny whine. It actually sounded more like a kitten mewing, but tucked back under the bushes and just out of the snow was a tiny puppy.
After quickly putting my dog in the house, I ran back outside, scooped him up, and brought him inside. My parents helped me set up a box with a heating pad and blanket, and I stayed up all night watching that puppy, my hand on his body, letting him know he was no longer alone. Soon it began to snow heavily and I remember feeling so glad that this little puppy had found his way to the bushes near my house. I was happy knowing he was safe and warm and out of the snowstorm.
We took him to the vet the next morning and the tech there told me she would foster him and give him the medical care he needed. She told me I had most likely saved his life that night and thanked me for caring. From that time on, I vowed to help animals in trouble. It is a promise I have kept to myself ever since.
I’ve rescued many dogs since then. When I was younger, most of them were strays I found on the way home from school. (Fortunately I had very supportive parents who also loved animals.) Fast forward years later. I was working for the Humane Society of Broward County in South Florida when I bought my first place. I started fostering dogs immediately. There I was, in my 20s, making the tiniest nonprofit salary and spending almost all of it on dog food. I ate a lot of ramen and I could not have been happier.
Now I’m married with twin 10-year-olds and we foster as a family. We have two rescue dogs of our own, and various other rescued furry and feathered friends. Our kids are in private school but still a portion of our income is allocated for our rescue work.
Like other people who volunteer in rescue, I have often daydreamed about winning the lottery; not because I want to go on crazy shopping sprees, but because I think of how many more dogs I could save with the jackpot.
Another fantasy I’ve had is that a distant relative (one I’ve never met) has died and left me a big piece of land, which would allow me to build my own rescue shelter.
Well, that has not happened for me, but it has happened for Luv-A-Bull All Breed Rescue in Pompano Beach, Florida. They have an amazing opportunity to create a no-kill dog sanctuary in Putnam County, Florida, but they need a little help and they need it quickly.
Luv-A-Bull Rescue started rescuing dogs in 1993 and received nonprofit status in 2010. They help any dog in need, regardless of breed. Today, they have more than 20 dogs in their care and are trying to find them forever homes. The group does not take in owner-surrendered pets. Rather, they focus on the underdogs — dogs from high-kill shelters. They specialize in taking in the hardship cases, those dogs not seen by the public because they have mange, injuries, or little chance of being adopted, and placing these deserving animals into permanent, loving families.
A deceased family member of a Luv-A-Bull friend and volunteer recently donated a 12-acre property in Central Florida’s Putnam County to Luv-A-Bull. The group now has the opportunity to use this land as an animal sanctuary. They plan to clear the property, build kennels, and have caretakers live on-site, allowing them to help many more dogs and giving them a safe place to go while volunteers find them forever homes.
However, the group must pay several years of back taxes — about $5,000 — owed on the property. The county recently granted an extension to pay the 2012 taxes, and 2013 taxes are not due until the end of March 2014, so there is a little more time to raise the much-needed funds.
“The acquisition of this property will be very beneficial to homeless dogs in Florida,” says Jamie Archer, who handles public relations for the group. “Besides being able to house more dogs, we want to use this property to help other rescues, too. Sometimes the logistics of pulling and transporting dogs just do not work out right away. For example, say a rescue wants to pull a dog from Putnam County Animal Control but they cannot find a transporter and the shelter will not hold the dog. We plan on helping other rescues by providing a temporary place to keep the dogs when problems like this arise. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially the dogs.”
And the dogs are what it’s all about.
Austin was born with a congenital heart defect. The cardiologist said he had a severe malformation of the mitral valve and left atrial enlargement. The vets all agreed that his condition was inoperable and that there was nothing they could do for him.
Despite the odds against him and the known vet bills this dog would bring, Luv-A-Bull took him in. They wanted to make sure Austin would be placed with a family who would fill his remaining days with love. After endless searching, they found a person who understood that his life would be short and that he has a high risk of spontaneous congestive heart failure. Austin enjoyed Christmas Day with his permanent foster family, who will care for him for as long as he lives. Luv-A-Bull sponsors all of his treatments and medications.
Minka was dumped over a fence in Riviera Beach. A Good Samaritan called and Luv-A-Bull rescued her. She had a high fever and was covered in mange, but after a few weeks she’s looking great and is well on the road to recovery.
Then there is Chris Cringle, who was shot through his chest and in two of his feet and left to die on Christmas Day. Sumter County Animal Services picked him up and took him to their very small rural shelter where no treatment was given. The shelter does not have a website or even a Facebook page, so no one knew about this dog. He sat suffering in his run for five days.
Fortunately, the animal control officer contacted Luv-A-Bull and it agreed to take him. Staff immediately got him to a vet. X-rays showed his foot has shattered bones and an open oozing wound. This dog is just a year old and is 20 pounds underweight. He will have extensive vet bills, but Luv-A-Bull is dedicated to helping him.
Can you help? There is still time to raise the needed funds for the sanctuary. Find out more about how to donate, foster, or volunteer at www.luvabull.org, and keep up with the dogs at Luv-A-Bull’s Facebook page.
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Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at [email protected].