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Tale of a puppylift: From an island in the sun to the Rocky Mountains
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 08:18

Lisa says goodbye to Jasmine.People often ask us how we do what we do.  How we cope with seeing the worst of what humans can do to innocent animals day after day.  From the worst cruelty and neglect to the incredible sadness of watching a pet's confusion, fright and resignation as she watches her beloved owner give her up. 

How we keep our sanity when dealing with the uncaring or uninformed public.  How we keep from falling in love with all the animals that come in and how we keep our hearts from being broken.

Honestly?  There is no pat answer to the first few questions.  We are only human, and sometimes we lose it.  If crying is healthy, we must be the healthiest bunch of people on the island.  We get frustrated, sad, despairing, and yes, angry too.

At the Grand Bahama airport.We fall in love, and we have our hearts broken, on a daily basis.  We are the last resort for those whom we are meant to be a shelter and a refuge.  For far too many we are their last stop before the Rainbow Bridge.

But we also have the amazing privilege of getting to know so many different wonderful animals.  We help them heal, or trust, or simply learn what it is to be loved by a human.  For too many of them, it's the best care they've ever had.  

It is impossible not to fall in love, not to become attached, and not to care about their ultimate fate.  They are worth every tear, and then some.  The joy and love they give back is impossible to describe.  

Bath time for the puppies.Even for those we can't save, we try to make sure they know love and kindness from humans at the end of their life, which is the very least they deserve.

Many people still do not realise that we do not have a shelter full of bush dogs and feral cats.  We have a shelter full of pets, who ended up here through no fault of their own.  

We have worked so hard on our spay/neuter program, and we educate people every single day on responsible pet ownership.  We do see a difference, but absolute success is still just out of our reach.  We will never give up and work hard towards the day there are no more homeless pets on our island.

How do we do what we do? 

Waiting to leave the island.By taking each day as it comes, and doing the best we can, at that moment, for each and every animal that comes in.  And sometimes, we are rewarded beyond our wildest dreams when we get to watch dozens of our precious babies leave us for a real second chance, that we could never give them here. 

Last week was one of those times.

We won't write the usual "puppylift timeline" here.  The video speaks volumes and tells a great deal of the story.  What it may not convey is the inordinate amount of time and effort it took to make this happen on all fronts.  Click HERE to view if not playing below.

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Loading the GB Express plane with the precious cargo.It all started well over a month ago when Lisa Petri of Colorado Animal Welfare League (CAWL) received an email from Lynda Carlson of Jupiter, FL (HSGB supporter and proud owner of four potcakes) outlining the predicament of our dogs, and sharing the awesome rescue website created just for us by Lynda's friend Kit DeRoche.

Lisa was horrified that we only adopted locally 80 dogs out of the 1100 taken in in 2011.  She was touched by the number of dogs on the rescue site especially the adult dogs who had been waiting so long already. 

She wanted to help.  

She also was gratified to hear that we were not looking at exporting dogs as a solution, but merely a way to save a few more precious lives while we continue to work towards the solution.  Lisa, along with the incomparable Megan Weber, also of CAWL, began to reach out to other rescues in Colorado. 

Brocie giving a special greeting to Ken Dose in Florida.The response was astounding.

We couldn't believe it! 

In the past, we have often been able to secure rescues for puppies, and a few adult dogs here and there.  These Colorado folks were concentrating on our adult dogs!  Including many of our special favorite "long timers"!  Including a number of our "bully" dogs (pit bull type dogs) who have even less of a chance here than our potcakes. It was a dream come true.

Over the ensuing weeks, "the list" was worked, and re-worked, again and again.  We discussed numerous dogs and suitability for the different foster homes and rescues that were willing to help. 

Brocie, now Brodie, with new sister Cammie and dad Ralph in Florida.We are always completely honest about every dog - some were ruled out as a no, or a not now, and others ruled in.  We try hard not to send any "surprises" to any rescue - it defeats the purpose. 

Still, at the end of the day, we were so happy that some of our shy and timid dogs got their second chances, too.  Their rescues/fosters are willing to work with them.  They are not irredeemable; they just need more than we can offer in our shelter setting.  

It was a real pleasure working with Megan, Lisa, Tina, Marina, Marianna and everyone else we talked to and emailed with along this journey.

The large GB Express SkyVan plane is out of commission and awaiting parts.  This meant sending the dogs on three different GBX flights out of Freeport between Thursday and Friday, instead of the one flight the SkyVan could have made. 

Wonderful Florida volunteers.Trying to figure what would fit on each plane was a challenge to say the least, also keeping in mind which of the eight Colorado rescues could pick up their dogs on which days.  Not to mention the Florida side of the equation, which is always so important, but never more so than this time, when so many dogs needed housing overnight on Thursday and Friday nights.

Florida supporter, potcake owner, and volunteer Heike Dose, stepped up to the plate once again. Supporters and volunteers Laura and Randy Comer happened to have an empty house for sale ... which became the "Potcake Hotel" for this puppylift.  

There were so many people that helped in Ft. Lauderdale, (all listed in the video); it was truly heartwarming to hear about everyone who not only helped at the airport, but helped at the "Potcake Hotel," walking dogs, feeding, watering, and giving them all some love along the way.

Heike Dose in Florida getting everyone settled in for the night.Too many people contributed financially to this puppylift to list individually.  Please know we appreciate each and every one of you, and your support was truly a life-saving success! 

This puppylift was done in loving memory of Peter Rose, who was a long time supporter of the HSGB.

  • One tiny orphan puppy named Jellybean went to our long time friends at LuvAPet in Royal Palm Beach, Fl.  
  • One young Shih Tzu named Taino went to his new mom, Mari Rizzo, from Sebring, FL, who had visited the shelter two weeks before and fell in love with him.  
  • One young German Shepherd Dog, who had been surrendered by his owner, went to our great long time friends at GSD Rescue of Central Florida.  
  • Two dogs, Brocie, and Najah, intended for Colorado rescues, ended up being adopted by two different Florida volunteers!  
  • 57 dogs and pups made their way to Colorado, where, by all accounts thus far, they have endeared themselves and proved once again that our Royal Bahamian Potcakes are the best dogs ever!
  • Judah Potcake already has his own Facebook page.  
  • Our shy little Cynthia is making leaps and bounds with a caring, patient foster mom.  
  • Pit bull mix Ebony has endeared herself to everyone she's met so far in Colorado.  
  • Judah's foster mom has also started an Adopt the Potcakes page at  
  • Colorado Animal Welfare League can be found at

The 'Potcake Hotel'Is this a solution to our overall problem?  No. 

Is it a solution for those 62 precious souls?  Absolutely.

How do we get our island's residents to appreciate these wonderful dogs as much as they are appreciated and loved abroad?  

Isn't it ironic and sad that so many Grand Bahamians continue to disparage potcakes, and import and breed dogs?  When your next best friend is likely only a short drive away, on Coral Road, at the big yellow building ... please give them a chance!

Heartfelt thanks to every single person who helped with this life-saving effort.

Sparkles one of the first potcakes to arrive in Colorado.Photo 1: Lisa says goodbye to Jasmine.

Photo 2: At the Grand Bahama airport.

Photo 3: Bath time for the puppies.

Photo 4: Waiting to leave the island.

Photo 5: Loading the GB Express plane with the precious cargo.

Photo 6: Brocie giving a special greeting to Ken Dose in Florida.

Photo 7: Brocie, now Brodie, with new sister Cammie and dad Ralph in Florida.

Wonderful Colorado volunteers.Photo 8: Wonderful Florida volunteers.

Photo 9: Heike Dose in Florida getting everyone settled in for the night.

Photo 10: The 'Potcake Hotel'

Photo 11: Sparkles one of the first potcakes to arrive in Colorado.

Photo 12: Wonderful Colorado volunteers.

Judah Potcake in Colorado. He already has his own Facebook page!Photo 13: Judah Potcake in Colorado. He already has his own Facebook page!

P.S. Grand Bahama, don't forget to mark your calendars for the first Pub Quiz Night on Saturday, May 12th, at Red Beard's to benefit the Humane Society of Grand Bahama.  Click HERE to read all about it!




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