Just the Right Number of Cooks – A Rescue Collaboration

Remember the old adage, “Too many cooks spoil the broth?”  Often true, but not always. In the case of a recent transport of eleven Golden Retrievers from Arkansas to Pennsylvania, a lot of “cooks” worked superbly in tandem to whip up one heckuva successful rescue!

Here in Reinholds, PA, home of Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR), our first inkling of the events transpiring over 1,000 miles away in Arkansas came via a phone call from Phyl Simmons, of Memphis Area Golden Retriever Rescue (MAGRR). We’ve worked collaboratively on many occasions in the past with MAGRR so Phyl is well-acquainted with our rescue and its capabilities.

Her call was in response to a request MAGRR had just received for help with a multi-dog intake on an “asap” basis.  Phyl knew that “asap” part would be difficult for her to achieve using her foster care network and thought DVGRR might be in a better position to jump in given our on-site kennel facility and previous experience with high number intakes.

We were more than glad to help and started the figurative [tennis] ball rolling right away. Our Kennel Manager, Dennis Stauffer, got the contact info from Phyl and immediately called Dorinda Hankins, President of Harley’s Hope, Inc., a small but very determined dog rescue/sanctuary in Harrison, Arkansas. We learned that Dorinda had been working tirelessly alongside folks from Ozark Homeward Bound (another local rescue group) to provide emergency on-site care for thirty-two dogs, five horses, two cats, one pot-bellied pig, and assorted fish – all left to fend for themselves since early February when the family that owned them became embroiled in a domestic dispute and were evicted from the home.  Besides Goldens, the canine breeds represented included Labrador retrievers, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherds, and Beagles.

Starting With the Basics

Dorinda told us the conditions at the home were awful and nearly all of the dogs were very underweight, many with untreated infections and other health issues as well. Water and electric service had been turned off more than six months earlier.  The Arkansas team established three priorities: ensuring the dogs were safe, obtaining legal authority to remove them, and seeking other resources to help place them. (Neither of the small Arkansas groups was equipped to take so many animals at once, much as they would have liked to!)

Our new Arkansas friends sent us this picture showing one of the Goldens at the abandoned home where all the animals were living.

Our new Arkansas friends sent us this picture showing one of the Goldens at the abandoned home where all the animals were living.

Another photo of the Goldens in Arkansas. These pictures broke our hearts and we were so anxious to help.

Another photo of the Goldens in Arkansas. These pictures broke our hearts and we were so anxious to help.

The first priority (ensuring safety) presented some logistical challenges, but the two rescues attacked them head on. For almost two weeks, volunteers drove eighty miles roundtrip every day to bring food and water for the dogs and other animals. “We used over 800 pounds of dog food, taken mostly from Harley’s Hope and Ozark Homeward Bound, which really came close to wiping us out,” Dorinda told us. The groups also arranged for deworming, vaccinations, antibiotics, and other medical care to be administered where needed.

Working in conjunction with Boone County Sheriff Mike Moore, the two rescues successfully received legal possession of the animals on February 11, 2013. Big relief all around, but no time to rest or celebrate – the search for places to take the animals was well underway and needed to be finalized pronto!

Communication, Cooperation, and a Little Comic Relief

Dorinda acknowledges she initially thought that moving thirty-two dogs to various rescues in a short period of time would be a nearly impossible task. Happily, things fell into place far more easily than expected. Regular contact with all parties involved made a huge difference. “We could not have done it without the GREAT!!! communication from the Northeast rescues,” Dorinda noted. “They kept us updated on what we needed to do for them and what they could do for us. It was just nice to hear Dennis’s kind, calm voice at the end of the day.”

First to be relocated were the horses, pot-bellied pig, fish, and two dogs. Three of the horses were taken in by a local horse rescue and the rest of that initial group will stay permanently with a volunteer from Harley’s Hope.  After tons of phone calls, emails, and late night strategizing, plans came together for DVGRR to take the eleven Golden Retrievers, Labs 4 Rescue to take the seven Labs, and National Great Pyrenees Rescue to take the five Pyrs.  DVGRR agreed to house the five Great Pyrenees overnight until they could be picked up by the Pyr rescue folks, saving those volunteers significant travel time. (Actually, it turned out to be more than five Pyrs, but no one knew that at the time. More on that later…..!)

Again, everyone’s willingness to work collaboratively made the planning and decision-making process run far more smoothly than anticipated.

The comic relief? Well, that came in the form of “Mimi”, the pot-bellied pig. Dorinda says she’s sure the man who hauled the horses and pig from the house “thought we were a bunch of yahoos trying to load Mimi. She was not going for it at all. She knocked into the President of Ozark Homeward Bound a couple of times at full speed.” Thankfully, everyone survived – both physically and emotionally!

A Critical Ingredient – Transportation!

So now the rescues were lined up, but how to get the Goldens and Great Pyrenees  halfway across the country?? Enter Barbara Mattson,  President of the Great Pyrenees Rescue. She knew of  Jeff Sweeney, who operates Yes I Can Transport, a small animal delivery service with a solid reputation. Jeff had just gotten back from a 10,000 mile trip and had originally planned to take a week off when he got the call about helping with the Arkansas dogs. He didn’t hesitate to join the team of “cooks” and assured everyone he had the capability of handling the transport, including a vehicle that could negotiate the “twisty-windy access road leading to the property in rural Boone County” where the dogs were located.

Soon, plans were in place for the transport to depart on Saturday, February 16. Jeff’s wife, Debbie, would keep in touch with him throughout the trip and provide regular email updates to all involved regarding Jeff’s ETA and the status of his precious cargo.

In Pennsylvania, DVGRR staff began gearing up for the influx of new dogs, preparing files, kennels, and a surplus of extra TLC!

Add a Little Seasoning…

Right on schedule, Jeff and the sixteen dogs pulled into Golden Gateway on Tuesday afternoon, February 19. All four-legged passengers handled the trip like troopers, and they took their entry into DVGRR’s “half-way home” facility in stride as well.

They're here! Staff member Cindy Morgan helps unload one of our new charges from the transport vehicle.

They’re here! Staff member Cindy Morgan helps unload one of our new charges from the transport vehicle.

You can't see her, but that's staff member Inza Adams behind this little blonde pup!

You can’t see her, but that’s staff member Inza Adams behind this little blonde pup!

First order of business - potty break!

First order of business – potty break!

"Welcome, sweet girl! We are so glad to finally meet you!"

“So happy to meet you!”

Heather plants a welcome kiss on this new arrival's head.

Heather plants a welcome kiss on this pretty new arrival’s head.

Soon, we set about the task of getting to know each of these sweet Goldens better so we could start thinking about matching them with new homes. Having announced the imminent arrival of the “ARK 11” (as we dubbed them) in a mass email update, we already had adopters contacting us to express interest in adding one of these dogs to their family once ready.

All settled in with blanket, ball, and toys. Ready for a new life!

All settled in with blanket, ball, and toys. Ready for a new life!

The transport cost from Arkansas to Pennsylvania was pretty steep, as you might imagine. However, as with the rest of this story, the joint efforts of many groups (and individuals) served to make it possible. Financial support (i.e., the seasoning for the “broth”) came from both Arkansas rescue groups (who somehow found the time to solicit donations while coordinating the care of the dogs and the overall rescue operation!), Memphis Area Golden Retriever Rescue (who wanted to support the effort monetarily after referring the dogs to DVGRR), and from several VERY generous individual DVGRR donors.Given that our costs for the ARK 11 included not only their transportation but also the daily care, spay/neuter of all dogs, and other medical treatment (several were in need of extensive dental care, for example), we are incredibly grateful for this amazing support and assistance!

 A True Example of Teamwork

We’ve been delighted with the ARK 11, who are truly a group of resilient Goldens. Despite all they’ve been through, they are progressing well and made their public “debut” at DVGRR’s March 9 Meet and Greet the Goldens Day (our monthly Open House and adoption event). There was a constant flow of visitors wanting to meet them that day, and quite a few prospective adopters who succumbed to their charms.  Our Adoption Team is starting the process now of matching each Golden with a home that will continue the process of keeping them safe,  secure, and very much loved.

Kennel Manager Dennis Stauffer (and the rest of us!) enjoyed meeting our short-term Great Pyrenees guests.

Kennel Manager Dennis Stauffer (and the rest of us!) enjoyed meeting our short-term Great Pyrenees guests.

We had fun getting to know the group of Great Pyrenees too, if only for their short overnight stay at Golden Gateway. And, we are relieved that Madison, one of the adult females, timed her special “surprise” for AFTER she was safely in the care of Great Pyrenees Rescue. What surprise was that, you ask? Oh, just a litter of five puppies born on Saturday evening, February 23! Madison’s pregnancy was not obvious and therefore went undetected, so thankfully she did not deliver her pups enroute to Pennsylvania or while temporarily in the custody of DVGRR. We do wish mama and pups all the best!

New mama Madison with her five little "surprises"!

New mama Madison with her five little “surprises”!

Teamwork is so often the key to success in animal welfare situations and that was certainly the case here. Thanks to a special group of dog lovers all coming together in a pinch, none of these canine survivors will ever be neglected, forgotten, or mistreated again. We are deeply grateful to all who played a role in making this happen:

  • Memphis Area Golden Retriever Rescue
  • Harley’s Hope, Inc.
  • Ozark Homeward Bound LLC
  • National Great Pyrenees Rescue
  • Boone County Sherriff Mike Moore

In reflecting on the rescue, Dorinda Hankins noted: “At no time did we worry about anything except the animals and their needs.  Once it was over we just took a deep breath and said, now we will take inventory of what is left.”  Yes, many resources were used to make this happen, but the canine lives saved, the relationships forged, and the mutual sense of accomplishment are truly a testament to the rescue spirit. Soup’s on!

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This entry was posted in Rescue.

10 comments on “Just the Right Number of Cooks – A Rescue Collaboration

  1. Jean says:

    You continue to AMAZE. What WONDERFUL work all of you at DVGRR do. I’m sure you’ll be rewarded someday. THANK YOU.

  2. Maureen McCulloch says:

    Oh what a small little world. I was just approved to foster for Labs4rescue and spoke with their contact about fostering a choc. female lab from Arkansas, which is one of the dogs from this location. I felt she needed more time and attention than I could give having three goldens of my own. So decided on a black female from Alabama instead. She is arriving on transport this Saturday. Can’t wait to meet her.

    Maureen McCulloch
    My Luke is a puppy mill survivor from DVGRR and my late Oscar was too.

    • Donna Baker says:

      Hi Maureen! That is interesting indeed that you almost fostered one of the Arkansas Labs. I hope all goes well with your new little girl from Alabama. Hugs to Luke!

  3. MariaEllena Stewart says:

    Just a quick note…I was one of the Harley’s Hope volunteers that was able to help this group of animals. I have two of the dogs and have added them to my own pack…they are so happy to be in a forever home and surprise me by being very well behaved. The first time Ruby was allowed up on the couch you could just see the look of bliss across her face, she rolled over on her back and just wiggled and wiggled making happy puppy sounds. Penny, the mini beagle, just fit right in like she had always been here. She LOVES running on the property with Moose, my terrier mix rescue, and makes sure she visits Mimi, the pot bellied pig at least twice a day when I go to feed her (and the horses) Putting weight on the 2 horses rescued is a long slow process that you just can’t rush or there would be lots of complications. We just take baby steps. This week the farrier will be out to do some badly needed trim work on some terribly neglected hooves. The are in your pocket horses and just love any attention. I work with them daily…worming had to be done in increments due to the parasite load. Trying to give them a full dose all at once would have resulted in a large die off of worms and possible gut impaction and maybe death. You can tell by their romping in the pasture that they love all the fresh grass, hay, grain and access to clean water 24/7.
    Mimi is doing wonderful. She loves back rubs and ear scritches and just drops and rolls over if you get anywhere near her tummy. She has some weight to lose, but now that she is getting a healthy diet, with fresh fruit and veggies as well as the appropriate feed she is getting perking up. I have built her a shelter with a lot of straw in it and she happily snuggles there when it is cold. The president of Harley’s Hope, Dorinda, and her husband Mike, came over and together we expanded Mimi’s pen. Now she has room to roam, root and play in the soft dirt to her hearts content. She LOVES apples, but eats everything else before she finally gives in and eats the carrots and celery pieces…just like a little kid.

    Can’t thank the rest of the volunteers and Ozark Homeward Bound for all they have done. It is hard to believe that all the animals were able to reach safety and none were lost. Even the gold fish that I thought was deceased ( frozen) who came back to life when his water thawed. He is now in a 10 gallon tank with a few fishy friends and being fed regularly. I call him Timex cause he took a licking and kept on ticking.

    Thank you to all who helped get these animals to a safe place and are finding them forever homes.

    Let me know if you want any more pictures…I have lots of them.

    • Donna Baker says:

      Thank you SO much for this wonderful update! It’s great to hear how well the two dogs, horses, Mimi and even the fish are doing. I love the image of Ruby enjoying the couch for the first time…it must have felt heavenly to her! Would love to see pictures of all, especially Mimi, who really sounds like quite the character. You can send to me at donna@dvgrr.org. Many, many thanks for opening your home to this deserving group of animals!

  4. Lynda Daniel says:

    I would also, like to thank Dr. Tim Addis for making the trip to vaccinate and write health certificates for the dogs. It was extremely cold the day this was done. We finally had to move inside the house to complete the task. When first entering, you had to hold your breath, the stench was so bad, but it was better than the cold. Also, four ladies not involved with either rescue, helped with getting the dogs vetted that day. One of these ladies made us aware of the situation initially and stepped up to help when needed. It`s a great feeling when so many people work together to make something wonderful happen……Lynda Daniel Ozark homeward Bound

  5. Sue Byers says:

    As Secretary of the Board of Ozark Homeward Bound, I wish to add my thanks to those of our president, Lynda – to all who helped so unselfishly with this rescue operation. People outside the rescue community have no idea how many hours of computer and telephone work are required in rehoming just a single animal – not to mention 40 or more. Kudos to all involved! Sue Byers, Ozark Homeward Bound, Harrison, AR

    • Donna Baker says:

      Thank you, Sue! I am sure that everyone from the Arkansas rescues was well aware of what they were taking on when they agreed to help in this situation, yet no one hesitated to jump in for the sake of the animals. That is true dedication!

  6. MariaEllena Stewart says:

    Lynda and I made a trip to Mountain Home last week to get some dogs spayed and get a few other things taken care of. Lynda is a great lady and I always enjoy her company. I love when our rescues work together…the hardest part is not wanting to take every dog that Lynda has, they are all so cute. Everyone worked so hard, made multiple trips to care for the animals. Just seeing how happy they are does my heart wonders. Few people know how much dedication it takes for rescuers to do what they do…Thanks again to all and for letting me help.

    PS The horses now know where I will be putting their food buckets when it is time to eat. As soon as they see me with the feed bucket they all go over and stand by their food bowl and wait for me to feed them. They know when there are carrots or apples in my pockets and nicker for their dessert first. And yes, I always give in and give them their treats irst.

    Donna, I will be sending pictures of Mimi.

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