Rescue Spotlight: Love Puerto Rico Goldens
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
In November 2014 a yellow Labrador was found tied to a tree in a remote area in the woods in the Carolina area of Puerto Rico. She had been muzzled with a plastic bag that allowed her to breathe through her nose, but secured her mouth so that she could not chew herself free, could not eat or drink even if food had been there, and could not even pant to cool herself in the hot, humid tropical weather. Fortunately a good Samaritan came along and found her, cutting her free, and taking her into the foster care of rescue group Love Puerto Rico Goldens.
Her rescuers and fosters bathed her, gave her medical care, and found a foster home for her. In January 2015 they arranged for her to fly to the United States to be adopted out through Chicagoland Lab Rescue. They named her Destiny with the hope that she would be able to fulfill her destiny of finding a loving forever home and the happy, safe, healthy life that she and all dogs deserve.
At that time I was actively volunteering for Chicagoland Lab Rescue and I immediately volunteered to be her foster as soon as I read the story of how she had been found. I knew I wanted her to feel the love and comfort that my own dogs receive on a daily basis, and so my husband and I picked her up from O’Hare Airport the day before the Super Bowl that year as a blizzard loomed on the weather radar.
In less than the span of twelve hours, Destiny left the world she had come to know, flew on an airplane, experienced the frenzy of the arrivals area of a major international airport on a Saturday night, drove in a strange car with utter strangers, and then stepped into snow and a whirling blizzard for the first time in her life. I cannot imagine what she was thinking or feeling, and I was amazed that she trusted me and settled into her kennel in our living room at bedtime that night without so much as a bark or whimper.
If you have followed my blog for a while or read my book, then you have read about Destiny. She was with us for around three months and she had as much of an impact on my life as I had on hers. In those three months she absolutely claimed a permanent spot in my heart. In fact the only reason that she is not laying next to me as I write this post is that I knew when I met her forever family that they needed her in their life to fill the void that their previous dog’s passing had left in their hearts, while my heartache from the loss of my previous dogs had already been filled by both Jackson and Tinkerbell.
These days, Destiny is living the life that every dog deserves as the only dog of a couple who love her and dote on her daily. No longer skin and bones, she could actually lose a few pounds, but the thought of her living on the streets alone and starving, or tied to that tree in the woods with no way to free herself, makes it hard for her humans to tell her no when she wants a few extra treats. And quite frankly, I don’t blame them one bit.
In one of those bittersweet aspects of life, Destiny is just one of hundreds of dogs who Love Puerto Rico Goldens has saved. Since fostering Destiny I have become friends with some of her rescuers on Facebook and have been added to a group of people who have adopted some of the group’s dogs here in the mainland United States. The bitter part is that there is a never-ending number of dogs who desperately need their care. The sweet part comes from the stories of life after being rescued that their owners share through happy photos of the dogs enjoying their new lives.
If you know anything about dog rescue, then you know that there is never, ever enough money to go around, even in the best circumstances. There is a never-ending population of dogs in need of homes, most of whom have not received proper medical care from their prior owners. Some have intestinal parasites, most have not been spayed or neutered, others have heartworms. Some arrive pregnant or with a litter of puppies, exponentially adding to the bills that the rescue is trying to cover with donations and adoption fees. One of the reasons that Love Puerto Rico Goldens is able to save as many dogs as they have is that they have arranged for many of their dogs to fly to rescues in the US mainland just like Destiny did, so there is the added cost of transportation via commercial airline.
Ever since Destiny stepped out of her travel crate in the cargo pickup area of O’Hare airport I have wanted to go to Puerto Rico to meet her rescuers, give a hug to the kind souls who originally found her, meet some of the other dogs who they have rescued, interview the people who run the rescue, and write as much as they will let me about their tireless work to help Golden Retrievers and other dogs in a place that has a heart-wrenching homeless dog problem that has been exacerbated by the dire financial situation on the island commonwealth. I have not made it there yet, but it remains very high on my list.
Their work was hard enough before the massive devastation of Category 4 Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc to homes, businesses and roads all over the entire island. Now the need for donations and assistance is even greater.
As the citizens of Puerto Rico, and the volunteers who run Love Puerto Rico Goldens, struggle with day-to-day life on this hard hit island, donations to their cause are even more important. If you have the ability to do so, please go to the Love Puerto Rico Goldens website and click on the Donate button http://www.lovepuertoricogoldens.org.
To read more about Destiny, click here: