Two years ago, at the L.A. Harbor Animal Shelter, Nicki Gore-Jones started paying attention to a little pit bull named Bonita who had sustained traumatic injuries. Bonita spent two months in the hospital recovering and then she was put on death row with only 6 days to live.
It’s so stupid that they should heal animals just to put them to sleep.
Nicki didn’t want that to happen to Bonita, so she started using her networking resources to find her a home. Through a very long grapevine, she found me. I called down to see if I could talk with Bonita, and ended up agreeing to be her last-ditch foster home (fully expecting someone in LA to come get this dog).
A week later, Nicki called me. “We’re coming up to Portland.” She said. Then I had the difficult job of explaining to my better half that yes, I had committed to fostering a dog, and no I hadn’t asked him, and yes she’s a pit bull, and no, I don’t know how well she plays with others.
Nicki and her husband, Marcel drove her to Portland on their own dime. And Bonita became my beloved Olive.
Today, I received this letter
January 17, 2011
To My Fellow Dog-lovers!
Since many of you have supported me with donations and moral support, I wanted to update you on some of the rescue activities I have organized in the past year, which have included, running ads in the newspaper, walking & socializing dogs at the shelter, networking dogs on the internet, organizing rescues to take dogs and transporting dogs to rescues.
For over a year now, we have been running ads in the Daily Breeze Newspaper, as often as possible, thanks to our amazing sponsors, Dr. Amsden and Marine Spa! The life-saving ads, featuring a dozen dogs or cats ever time we run, really help get animals adopted and out of the shelter. The ads spur potential adopters into coming down to the shelter and either adopting the animal they choose in the newspaper, or sometimes, they pick another when they get there. Either way, dogs and cats are being saved! Thank you so much to Nikki & her husband, Dr. Amsden and Karen & her husband, for making these ads happen!
After eight months of rehab, following surgery on a snapped Achilles tendon, my husband Marcel is back walking the big dogs at the shelter again. He chooses the most difficult, big, heavy dogs, who don’t often get a chance to get out of their kennels and often finds a diamond in the rough, who I can then network, with some knowledge of the dog’s behavior. It makes it so much easier when we know something about the personality and behavior of the dog.
There was a beautiful brindle pitbull, named Roxy, back in July, whom we snatched from the jaws of death, just a couple of hours before she was to be euthanized. She had been at the Harbor Shelter for over a year, because she was involved in a lawsuit. Once the lawsuit was settled, her time was up and she was scheduled for euthanization.
Having walked and interacted with her many times, I had, naturally, developed a soft spot for Roxy. She was easy to walk and very loving, sweet and loved to cuddle, but no one came to adopt her. On what was to be her last day, I decided to have one last try at networking her and then, too depressed to stay awake and think about her terrible fate, I took to my bed to try and sleep, to hide from the foreboding I felt, knowing I could do nothing to save her. The phone rang and woke me from my escape and lo and behold, a rescuer in Canada said they would take her, if I could get her up to Canada.
I knew nothing of this rescue, but decided, if we drove her up to Canada, at least we could look the place over and see if we felt it a good place for her to go. So we brought Roxy home with us for a few days and played the hide- a-dog game, with our dogs – put ours in the spare room, bring her out into the yard, put her back in our bedroom, move ours back out!! After a few days of this, poor old Roxy had to go to boarding kennels, but a very nice one!
After about a week, we had made plans to drive her to Canada! Off we went. It’s about 2,000 miles each way. Roxy was an angel. She so enjoyed spending time with us and behaved beautifully at the hotels and potty stops. She became so attached to me and insisted on sleeping right next to me on the floor in the hotels and following me everywhere. Wonderful, sweet dog!
We made it to Canada and inspected the beautiful kennel complex she was to be housed in until they could find her a home.
The kennels were air-conditioned and heated, with an indoor kennel and outdoor run for all of the dogs. Perfect!
Not only were the facilities lovely, but so were the rescuers, Steve and Beth. Steve is the guy with the kennels. He focuses on boarding, but occasionally rescues pitbulls, too. He’s well-known as the Pitbull Guy in his area of Canada and the great part of that, is that people looking for pitbulls, always call him.
Roxy now lives on a huge farm, a hundred acres, I believe, with a family who adores her and whom I’m sure she adores in return. I heard the family were concerned about the possibility of her running away with so much land to explore, but I gather she nips outside to do her business and is back inside within a couple of minutes. She’s not going to let this family go!
We spent several hours discussing the horrendous dog situation in L.A., Beth urged me to begin sending transports of multiple dogs to Canada. Why let them die, when there are so many people willing to help them up there? She explained they have such a good spay and neuter program in their area and that smaller dogs are hard to find and people are eager to adopt rescued dogs.
I thought about the possibility all the way back to L.A. Twenty four hours of thinking about it! How could I organize such a huge undertaking? How would I find the money for it?
Fast forward a couple of months and after several weeks of negotiating with the shelter on how we could make this work and hours and hours of phone calls on my 2.5 hour drive to and from work every day, Beth arranged for rescues in Vancouver and in her area to take a few dogs each.
Marcel & I were planning to drive the dogs ourselves, until we found a trusted, reliable driver, “English John,” at the last minute, who would end up doing the drive to Washington, where he would be met by the rescues.
The big day came and at 7:30 a.m., we began loading dogs. The paperwork, finding the right dogs to match that paperwork and the fact that many dogs were still at the spay & neuter clinic next to the shelter when we grabbed them to put them in crates, made it a very long morning of loading. Fortunately, a wonderful volunteer, Diane Valine and her son came to help with loading and to video the event. Eventually, the dogs were on their way to freedom and a new life! Over 30 dogs ended up being saved.
It had never occurred to me that I would worry myself sick while they were en route! I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t settle, couldn’t do anything, until I knew the dogs had arrived safely and I was on the phone with English John throughout the day and night, 20 hours, until they did arrive!
The dogs arrived with full bladders, but healthy and happy! The rescues were delighted with the Harbor Dogs and the dogs were obviously delighted with the rescuers! Some of the dogs already had committed adopters, who had chosen them from their pictures and all of the dogs were adopted within a few weeks. We asked for photos and updates on the dogs as they got adopted and we got them. Wonderful, grateful adopters, who loved their new fuzzy friends and you could see from the pictures, that the dogs were ecstatic to have new homes.
The first transport was such a success, that we decided to a second just a few weeks later, on Thanksgiving weekend. The day before the transport, Beth requested we send Sadie, a beautiful German Shepherd. I checked with the shelter and they said she was a biter. I told Beth I couldn’t send a biter, but I’d check her out. The day before the transport, I asked my husband to temperament-test her. I said, “I hear she’s a biter, why don’t you take her for a walk and see!” Without hesitation, Marcel jumped into her cage, slipped on her leash and off they went on a nice long walk. When they returned, he was effusive about what a wonderful dog she was and how beautifully she walked on the leash, always looking at her handler and sitting at every kerb, without being told!
That was good enough for me and Sadie, at the last minute, made it on to the transport, behaving beautifully the whole time.
The transport went off without a hitch and I later heard that the family who had wanted Sadie had picked her up almost the moment she arrived in Canada. They had always had German shepherds and Sadie’s photo reminded them of a dog they recently lost to old age. It turned out that their 14-year-old son had been the victim of a farm accident and had apparently lost a limb. Naturally, the child was devastated by the accident and had become very depressed and listless. He didn’t want to do anything anymore and just stayed in his bed. Apparently, when Sadie arrived, he made a remarkable recovery and wanted to get up to take care of Sadie. They immediately bonded and have become inseparable, by all accounts. Boy saves dog. Dog saves boy. What better ending for a dog which would, most likely, have been euthanized!
The third transport came about, mainly because of a female pitbull, “Baby”,who had been at the shelter for a couple of months. She came in pregnant and gave birth to her puppies at the shelter. She was a model mother and raised them in a dark kennel in the clinic for two months. Even when a puppy from the litter in the next cage, accidentally stumbled into her kennel by mistake, she was sweet and kind to it. Here was a lovely dog, great mother and sweet animal, who had done her best by her own puppies and they were, like many puppies, adopted fairly fast. But Baby was not to be as fortunate. No one wanted a recent mother – they tell us they don’t want a dog with big teats and even when we tell them she’ll get back in shape soon, they’re not interested. So apparently, Baby’s fate was sealed. Her time was up and she was scheduled to be put to sleep.
So many shelter volunteers wanted to help her and the other beautiful, young male pitbull, called Dark Boy, also slated to be euthanized, that I decided to arrange another transport just before Christmas. We only had five days to organize it, because I would be leaving for England for Christmas on December 21, so we did our third transport on December 20!
Two days before the departure date, a supervisor from the shelter called me and asked me if I could find a rescue in Canada for an old Doberman, “Fritzi.” He told me the vet had said he’s got a very bad heart and had lost 20lbs while at the shelter, but he’d really like to see him find a home to spend his remaining weeks or months. He couldn’t bear to think of him wasting away at the shelter any longer. So, I contacted another rescue in Vancouver which I knew considered senior dogs and she found a Doberman rescue who said they would take him and give him a warm, safe place for whatever time he had remaining! Fantastic!
I arrived at the shelter at 7:30 a.m. on the morning of transport number 3! The first thing I would do was check on Fritzi. He’d been put in the warmth of the clinic to make it more comfortable for his old bones. I opened the door to his kennel and saw him lying, unconscious, breathing erratically and clinging to life. English John stroked him softly and we told him how sorry we were that he almost made it to freedom. The vet tech stood behind us, with his hand on my shoulder and said how sorry he was that Fritzi was so close to getting out. We left the room and Fritzi’s suffering was ended with kindness and compassion.
I couldn’t read the kennel cards for the tears in my eyes, but I didn’t have time to dwell on poor old Fritzi. We had forty more dogs to walk and get into crates for their Christmastime transport.
I know many of the dogs we’ve transported, personally. Many I had never met before they were sent to Canada, but I can tell you that, even though we’re in a frantic hurry, when we get them from their kennels at the shelters, to take them to the van, I hug them and tell them how they’re going to a new home, far away from this scary place. And they seem to understand. Most of them seem calm and relaxed as they wait in their crates for the loading to be completed. I imagine that because we know we’re saving them from death, they can feel the love. They just know.
I would like to be able to continue to rescue dogs from Los Angeles shelters, but each transport costs around $1,700, (van rental, gas, payment for the driver),much of which Diane and I have had to subsidize ourselves. Obviously, we can’t keep supporting the cost, so we’re hoping to raise funds for the next one in February. I am only sending this to people who know me and I hope trust me to do the right thing for the dogs with any funds we receive.
Over 130 dogs have been saved on the three transports we have organized already. It would be so great to be able to rescue even more dogs this year! There are so many more wonderful stories that I just don’t have time to impart at this time, but I hope you will understand that my spare time is limited and I choose to spend as much of it as I can on actually saving dogs’ lives.
If you can help with any size donation, I promise you it will go straight to the dogs!!!
Thank you for your support and if you would like to make a donation, checks can be mailed to
1631 South Walker Avenue
San Pedro, CA 90731