By Gord Bowes, News staff
A dog with a permanent sneer set the tone for a local canine rescue group.
The big black lab, named Courage, looked like Elvis but nobody wanted him.
Kim Breaux, a Louisiana woman who was saving dogs from shelters in the southern U.S., had another dog to take in and needed a place for Courage.
Pam Hrycyk, who knew Breaux from an Internet site where dog lovers gathered, offered to take the lab in and NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana) Lab Rescue was born.
The rescue group has a particular affinity for canines that get overlooked by potential new owners. Whereas many other rescue groups will shy away from dogs with behavioural or medical problems, NOLA specializes in them.
Hutch, the second lab the group brought up to Canada, came from a hoarder’s home and had a severe case of mange.
“We take the underdog,” says Sheila Taylor, an east Mountain resident who fosters dogs for NOLA. “The idea is to get dogs in need out of a high-kill shelter.”
Taylor’s currently fostering a dog who, according to his paperwork, was dropped off at a Louisiana shelter at 10:30 one night with a note that said “to be disposed.”
NOLA, which started in September 2010, currently has about 20 foster homes in Canada, mostly in the Golden Horseshoe. It is connected with smaller groups in Detroit, Chicago and a small town in New York state.
“It’s growing slowly, but we’re still small,” says Hrycyk.
The first year, the group helped seven dogs. In 2011, that number grew to 101 and last year it was 272, mostly from Louisiana.
The fee is $350 for dogs five years old and under; $300 for those six and up.
The dogs have all their shots, have been checked by a vet, usually are spayed or neutered and have been microchipped.
The group tries to take care of medical problems before they leave the south, says Hrycyk. While the fees may be higher than normal, she says, “the adoption fees allow us to take the underdogs.”
Right now, NOLA has 15 to 20 dogs that need to be treated for heartworm before they can be brought to Canadian foster homes.
That’s why an upcoming fundraiser is so important to the group. While the members are volunteers, and there is a network of volunteer drivers to get the dogs up here, the group still has to pay gas and lodging, plus any medical costs for the dogs.
The March 15 event at Marquis Gardens, 1050 Rymal Rd. East, features a buffet, bar, dance and prizes. Tickets $25 and available by calling Taylor at 905-929-4979 or Hrycyk at 905-901-4684.
See nolalabrescue.org for more information.