Written by S. Bowyer


     As society grows in their knowledge of animal development, many publicise and promote the avoidance of puppy mill bred dogs. Many organisations promote boycotting certain stores or chains known to stock such pets, claiming that home-reared animals are better companions due to their preparation and teachings in a family home. See Also: Puppies: Newborns to Newspaper Ads.


      Such organisations suggest getting an animal from a rescue home, who still charge a fee for a pet, and state the animals are normally rehabilitated from either abusive situations, puppy mills, abandonment or other deprivating situations. Sometimes they might be animals who were home-reared, only their social education was void of useful lessons, and so the dog needs to be rehabilitated and trained before rehoming. 

      So how far do rescue homes go to finding the animal comfort and a new life? 

      Lhasa Happy Homes, a rescue home in the Santa Monica, US, were featured in an article to show exactly how much work they place into their animals. They introduced us to a dog that was given a full transformation and journey once picked up from death row by LHH founder, Randee Goldman


      The dog was said to be rescued from a puppy mill, after living out her use as a breeding bitch. She was estimated at seven years old, and was positive for mammory tumors, which are prevalent in unspayed females over the age of 6. Studies show 1 in 4 unspayed females over the age of 4 have incidence of mammory tumors.

      The dog was also carrying over 100 ticks, tape worms, and fleas. She had been deemed unhomeable by the animal shelter she'd been surrendered at. Animals in puppy mills, particularly the older ones, can be surrendered or given over to authorities in a bid to show proper care practices.

      After settling into the Goldman home, the dog is given the beginnings of her makeover. Within 72 hours, she attends the groomer to remove ticks, fleas, tapeworms and dirt from her coat. While sores persist from the feeding frenzy, the coat and skin are now clean. 


      By the end of the day, our little charmer is back at Lhasa Happy Homes headquarters, resting in Randee's home. The dog is said to be more comfortable with the new environment and less fearful of the new people in it. She is treated with food, ran through some basic trust-earning exercises, and then put on the bed to rest and relax.



      The following day, Dr. Rick Garcia performs a mastectomy, to remove the malignant carcinoma on her mammory glands. Mammory tumors are said to be more common as unspayed bitches age. They are linked to hormonal events involved with long-standing fertility. Additionally, he treats a Cherry Eye, or prolapsed bottom third eyelid. Spaying is also done to improve the health of the animal, as well as prevent unwanted litters or complications.


Vet nurse, Rachel, prepares to attend to the operation.


      Once stable, the animal will go to a foster family, or remain in Randee's home until a suitable family to adopt is found. Sometimes dogs will attend Doggy Bootcamp to correct poor behaviours, instill discipline, improve sociability, and how to use instruments such as a doggy door. The smallest influences can make a difference during this time, such as having children or cats present during their training, as often puppy mill dogs have never seen either. It is understood they all have different times of adaption, and foster parents are chosen for their patientce, understanding, and ongoing committment to provide a home until the animal has a placement. There is a great emphasis on care for animals that might have been physically or emotionally abused in previous living arrangements, who might require additional care to recover from the incidence and start afresh with new people. However, some pets are never homed with children or other animals as their previous abuse was that affective the dog cannot move on, which is when an adult home only adoption will be pursued.



     Two months later, after time to recover, repair and reflect, the dog attends an adoption day. Adoption days are where animals ready to be rehomed are introduced to potential new families, who are scanned prior for their suitability. The questionaires and interviews include discussion about lifestyle, family traits, housing and safety, prior experience with any ongoing health conditions the dog might have, training, socialisation and routines. Some assessments will include inspections of the prospective residence. Dogs with ongoing special needs will require more specific lifestyles, and it's preferred applicants have children over 8, and animals in a limited number or nil.

     Animals of Lhasa Happy Homes are never flown out to families -- they are to be met with on the day to ascertain suitability. The entire family is observed for signal of future interactions. If animals looking to be adopted entered the facility with friends, ie siblings from the same puppy mill or home, then steps to keep them together might also be taken.

     Fortunately, the dog is found a new home, with a schoolteacher from Lancaster called Kathy. She adopts two dogs on the day, who are to be a family with her two Sphynx cats and two teenage children. Kathy had been suitability tested via the website, and interviewed to ensure a match. It was later reported that the adoption was successful, both adopted dogs fitting in well to their new environment. LHH volunteers are known to visit the new home in future to follow-up on progress.


    Other success stories of Lhasa Happy Homes include Watson, a fat, old, blind dog most considered unhelpable. During his foster care, he lost weight after an underactive thyroid was found the reason for his weight issue. Watson was later homed with a family with another blind dog, where both he and his play companion enjoy a relaxed, comfortable life. 


Watson, before and after his makeover


    Gigi was surrendered by a woman when she was a puppy. She fell off the vet table during a routine checkup while the owner was busy with her cellphone. Her leg was broken badly and would cost a fair amount to repair. The new owner remarked, "well I never really bonded with the dog, put her to sleep!" The attending vet called Lhasa Happy Homes to arrange another option. Despite further leg issues in foster care, Gigi was adopted by a new family and lives a happy lifestyle free of couch-jumping and sky-diving.

    Trudy was considered unhomeable due to health issues including diabetes. She was soon placed with a woman who also has diabetes, and they take their shots together daily.






     Goldman attests that the treatments given to the animals in their care is for their best interest long-term, not just patch-up jobs to get them rehomed. 

     "Dogs don't deserve to die because they are not perfect or they have issues. They deserve to be treated as humans and deserve a second chance at a wonderful life," she states.

     Dogs put into the care of Lhasa Happy Homes have included animals with pneumonia, heart disease and congestive heart failure, bone injuries from physical abuse, eyes removed due to irreversable damage or infection, skin maladies, cataracts, luxating patellas, bladder stones, jaw destruction, diabetes, weight problems -- many of these conditions resulting in no-save decisions in other animal welfare facilities. It is to be noted that this is often due to numbers of animals presenting, funding limitations, and fair-use policies, whereas Lhasa Happy Homes, like many rescue missions, is a network of case-by-case determined careworkers that have private sponsorship from animal lovers and animal medical professionals who donate their time, offering at-cost services.


    Lhasa Happy Homes and its band of rescuers and foster parents continues to flourish and save more animals. Since April, 2001, they have changed the lives of hundreds of dogs. Their new website includes information about rescuing, their mission, and their history, as well as their current campaigns and fundraiser initiatives of new life.

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