2010-09-01 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

“Never Miss a Golden Opportunity” is the unofficial motto of Long Island Golden Retriever Rescue (www.ligrr.org) a proactive group whose mission is to improve the quality of life of Golden Retrievers that are neglected, abused or abandoned. Intervention is also offered to owners who can no longer care for their Goldens, while veterinary care and loving adoptive homes are provided for homeless Goldens, no matter whether the dog is a pup or a senior. A band of only about 10 dedicated LIGRR volunteers is the loving force behind this huge, ambitious effort.

Founded 11 years ago, LIGRR a 501 (c) 3 non-profit takes in between 80 to 100 Goldens a year. LIGRR president, Melanie Mayo, says their Goldens come from owner surrenders as well as all Long Island town shelters and Animal Care and Control in New York City. LIGRR is the

only purebred group that I know of that calls each municipal shelter weekly to check if any of their breed have entered. As a Mayor’s Alliance member, LIGRR sees listings of Goldens as soon as they arrive in the crowded city shelters. Dogs are temperament tested before intake. Then ,LIGRR reaches out to members and their larger base of adoptive homes for foster care. Theydo not have a shelter.

Tee Jay   Tee Jay I am a loud proponent of purebred rescue, which should not be construed as elitism or picking the cream of the crop. In some respects the most desirable dog in a shelter, especially a facility that doesn’t screen thoroughly, is the most vulnerable. If the dog falls into the wrong or inexperienced hands, the dog is apt to suffer or boomerang repeatedly. LIGRR knows their breed’s quirks. For example Goldens tend to be mouthy. As Melanie says, “LIGRR volunteers have the time and expertise to match dogs to the right home. Adult dogs, even typically friendly ones, that never lived with children before do not go into a new home with young kids. ” (IMO-an extremely wise guideline.) If the dog is returned, which happens rarely, the dog comes back to LIGRR. Volunteers also answer the LIGRR hotline (516-578-3803) where many frustrated owners have been given support and advice to solve training or health issues rather than giving up their Goldens.

Some purebred rescues like LIGRR are stretched “to the bone.” Popular breeds are more apt to surface in shelters. When there is a demand, puppy mills and irresponsible breeders crank out more puppies. These breed-for-profit folk do not screen for genetic flaws or educate potential owners, thus adding to dogs later discarded.

Enter the Golden Retriever… for the last ten years hovering between #2 and #4 on the AKC popularity list, keeping them one of America’s favorites. Unfortunately, the breed has more than its share of health problems, many with a suspected genetic basis. Cancer (especially lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma) is the primary cause of premature death in Goldens. Over 60 percent of all Goldens will succumb to cancer; more males than females.

LIGRR assumes initial medical responsibility if a foster has a chance at quality of life, and has provided cancer operations with pricey follow up. Other life threatening conditions are costly too. “Eclipse” had a large benign mouth tumor called an epulis removed. She is now a therapy dog at a hospice. Presently LIGRR is caring for a young stray from Hempstead Shelter who is about to have her third surgery to correct a rare ectopic ureter. Price tag: thousands of dollars. Chances are her former owners ditched her when they had problems with housebreaking.

Goldens are also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, plus heart and eye ailmentsall expensive to fix or manage. Since LIGRR tries to treat all fosters as if they were personal pets, a tremendous amount of the group’s limited treasury goes toward foster dogs’ veterinary treatment. Years ago LIGRR took an old timer out of Oyster Bay Shelter who appeared to be at death’s door. Acupuncture alleviated his arthritis pain so much that he enjoyed additional years in a fabulous home. It is not unusual for LIGRR to arrange for bilateral hip repair before re-homing a dog.

“Our current economy has been very hard on LIGRR. We are struggling to continue to maintain our level of care with great difficulty,” explains Melanie. “Donations are down while now even beloved pets are coming into rescue, but in far worse condition by the time their owners reluctantly surrender them. Struggling families just don’t have the resources any more.”

Thispraise for LIGRR is long past due. Over the years the group has helped many Goldens I have met in shelters. Recently two expensive cases left Babylon Shelter. “Lazarus” featured in the June 2 and 3 Pets used up his miracles. This senior was discovered collapsed outside a pet supply warehouse. He perked up a few days but then crashed. LIGRR carried him away in a wheelbarrow. Sadly, diagnostic tests determined his spine was beyond repair; whereas “Tee Jay” surrendered by someone moving came up heartworm positive. He is undergoing treatment and convalescing in a quiet foster home. A forever family is waiting.

More LIGRR volunteers are needed to showcase Goldens at Petco adoption events. To raise funds, LIGRR sponsors an annual Wall of Fame honoring people and pets. Donations to Paypal on the site, or to LIGRR, Inc. PO Box 566, Plainview, NY 11803 are greatly appreciated. The designated Annie Fund helps pay for surgeries. With the price of gold fluctuating around $1200 an ounce, wouldn’t it be wonderful if each Golden Retriever fan mailed LIGRR an orphan 14 kt. earring? Call it “Gold for Goldens.” The redemption money this “stray” jewelry generates can assist LIGRR in making sure no Golden is ever left behind.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Note-the shelter will be closed this Saturday and will reopen on Tues. after Labor Day. Our poster pups are both recovering from skin conditions thanks to care at the shelter. “Bambina” #93447 a brindle Pit pup had one of the worst cases of demodectic mange we have ever seen. With dips and TLC, her coat is filling in nicely. “Jake” #93505 in the Puppy Room is a 2-year-old Shih Tzu/Poodle mix from a hoarding situation. He has temporary hair loss from flea dermatitis. No Goldens this week, but there are two high energy male Labs- a yellow in Cage 18 and a chocolate in Cage 20.

Male: “Bear” #93501-Shepherd/Aussie; “Junior” #93434-beige Shep mix pup; “Spook” in C-4- lovable black cat.

Female: “Doodle Dandy” tabby in the lobby; “Truffle” tortie in C-1; “Jinni”, “Heather” & “Star” representing the endless parade of Pits. All adoptions have been very slow. Please come down and visit the lonely masses.

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