Heartland Golden Retriever Rescue (a 501[c]3 organization),established in August 1998. has helped over 700 dogs have a second chance of life – though this is not a huge number compared to other groups, Heartland by comparison does not have an army of volunteers and so are limited as to what they can do and do it properly. Their first priority is finding the right home for the right dog. They also take in dogs that are turned down by other rescue organizations because they, the other organizations, do not feel they will be easy to place. Some of these dogs are with us for years before the right home is found. Heartland does not have a revolving door policy; every dog entering the program is carefully evaluated both medically and for temperament issues and are normally quarantined for at least 10 days at the vet clinic before being released for adoption or moved into foster care – which for the most part are boarding kennels, due to the lack of private foster care in our immediate area.
This small grass roots group operating out of Knoxville TN has a great group of friends in New England and over 100 of our Goldens have been rehoused in that area. Our volunteer corps are very spread out, besides New England and Tennessee we have volunteers in the Pacific North West, Mid-West , Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama. But without a large number of volunteers in the immediate area, Heartland is unable to organize large scale and successful fundraisers instead having to rely heavily on donations and smaller fundraisers. Heartland accepts dogs from not only Tennessee but also Kentucky, SW Virginia; NW North Carolina, NE Alabama and occasionally parts of Mississippi.
Heartland operates not only on a shoe string, living from day to day, with no extra funds available in savings accounts but works in areas where a lot of people are not the most responsible of owners. Dogs, 3 or 4 years of age who have never been to a vet not even for a Rabies vaccination. Rescued Goldens have been found to have bullets or pellets in their bodies; others with broken limbs that have never been fixed; a young pup infested with cattle worms; another with it’s collar embedded in its neck. A beautiful girl, a victim of Katrina without coat and whose skin was elephantine from being in the polluted waters, but who after six loving months of care from her foster mother she left the program looking unrecognizable from the dog who entered it but she still carried a lot of excess baggage. Heartland also takes in Golden Retrievers from other states where cruelty and neglect laws are practically non-existent.
Most dogs entering the program require some form of medical treatment and many of then need treatment for Heartworm – Tennessee being the 7th highest state in the Nation for Heartworm incidence. The adoption fee of $275 for a dog up to 5yo only partially covers the average cost of the money invested in each dog – last year the cost per dog was well over $800. If a transport of over 6 hours is organized then there is a $150 fee – sometimes this fee is used to reimburse a volunteer’s expenses but most times Heartland volunteers absorb the costs. Commercial transports are not used and the Goldens are transported in private air-conditioned vehicles to make their journey as stress free as possible.. We are occasionally able to get help from pilots working in the Pilots & Paws program.