Lodestar Dog Ranch: Labrador Retriever Cyber-Rescue By Deborah Schildkraut, Ph.D.
Tom Payne loves dogs, especially Labrador Retrievers. Since 2002, Tom - with the help of his wife, Jean - has run Lodestar Dog Ranch, a rescue organization for Labs and Lab mixes. According to the organizationís mission statement, Lodestar is ďdedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming abused, abandoned and unwanted adult and senior Labrador Retrievers.Ē Tom has a special fondness for older dogs who are often overlooked by adopters but who have many advantages over adopting a puppy. From 2002 to 2008, about 700 Labs and Lab mixes were adopted, up to 250 of whom were adopted directly from the ranch, which maintained an average of 10 dogs per month on site. But then Tom got an idea about an efficient, low cost way to find new homes for the Labs.
Taking Lodestar Cyber: Running a rescue organization requires a tremendous amount of time to care for the dogs, effort to find responsible homes and money for everything Ė advertising, veterinary expenses, food and more. In 2007, Tom made a decision to make Lodestar a completely cyber-rescue. With the humane organizations and shelters in the greater Albuquerque area evolving in both their humane missions and management, Tom felt it safe to refer people who could no longer care for their dogs to the shelters.
Listing a Lab with Lodestar: When a Labís family can no longer keep the dog, Tom offers the family a number of choices. The dog can be placed at one of the area shelters or the family can keep the dog while a new home is found. Tom places a photo and information about the dog on his website. He includes the location of the dog if it is in a shelter or the phone number of the family looking to re-home the dog. Tom also posts information about Labs and Lab mixes that are in area shelters and rescues thereby increasing the opportunity for the dogs to be seen and adopted. In essence, Lodestar is a match making organization between people looking for Labs and Labs needing new homes. Lodestar facilitates the connection between the dogs and their potential new families, but Lodestar does not broker the actual adoption. That is between the dogís family or shelter and the potential adopters. Occasionally non-Labs who are in dire situations are also placed on the Lodestar website. Tom spends time talking with each person who calls to find a new home for their dog. Sometimes, the only reason the dog must be given up is because the dog has a medical problem the person cannot afford to treat. Using the website and Tomís network of contacts, he tries to help the person find financial resources for the dogís veterinary expenses. The happy endings to these stories are healthy Labs who get to stay with their families.
Looking for a Lab through Lodestar: People who are looking for a Lab can go to the website to read about available Labs and Lab mixes. If the right dog isnít currently listed, the family can speak with Tom about their needs, and get on a waiting list. When a dog becomes available that meetís the needs of any family, Tom calls to notify them that a potential match is now available. Itís a great way to increase the probability of a successful match between the dog and family.
Donations: Lodestar Dog Ranch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible. Most of the donations go to the medical/veterinary fund. The only other consistent expense is the regular classified advertising in the Albuquerque Journal. There is no fee for listing with Lodestar. But donations from the former families and new families are greatly appreciated and help Lodestar continue its work. On the website you can find stories about the many happy endings Lodestar has made happen.
The benefits of a cyber-rescue are many. One person can run a cyber-rescue. It is far less costly than the traditional rescue both financially and time-wise. The wide exposure that the dogs receive on the website makes adoptions more likely. Tom is convinced that the more cyber-rescues on the Internet, the greater the chances of dogs finding their forever homes. On the Lodestar website, you can find information on how to start up your own cyber-rescue or call Tom. He is always happy to help anyone who is working for the benefit of the dogs.
To find out more about Lodestar Dog Ranch, visit: http://www.lodestarlabs.com/
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected. - Chief Seattle