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Get to Know: Labs4Rescue

By Colleen Williams
January 13, 2018 • 3 min. read
three labradors
Labs4Rescue logo

In November 2017, the Healthy Paws Foundation launched their grant program: The Healthy Paws Rescue Race, funded through our “every quote gives hope” program. The race gave a total of $50,000 in grants to six selected animal welfare non-profits; the organization with the most votes received $20,000 and a second-place winner received $10,000. That recipient is Labs4Rescue…and here is their story.

“Save a Lab, have a friend for life!” is this Connecticut-based non-profit organization’s motto. Labs4Rescue is a volunteer-run initiative dedicated to providing a new life for rescued or displaced Labrador Retrievers and Labrador Mixes. Since its inception in 2002, Labs have been fostered and adopted through Labs4Rescue, often securing homes for animals far from their home state. The stats they provide are grim: shelters across the US, specifically in high kill southern shelters, have 100 Labs at any given time, most of whom only get about three days to be adopted before being euthanized. Additionally, several thousand Labs and Lab mixes are euthanized each year in high-kill shelters.

So, Labs4Rescue works hard to save these pups. The organization has volunteers peppered across the country, working to rescue socialized Labs that can be rehomed. All the dogs undergo an initial veterinary screening and receive treatment as required – so they are all vaccinated, spayed/neutered, started on heart worm prevention, and have received treatment for any prevailing medical or health conditions. Upon rescue, they are then placed in loving foster homes for nurturing and further evaluation. A happy Labrador

There isn’t much education lately on the plight of the Labrador retriever – most people consider Labs to be a high energy, social, friendly, family dog that has no problems getting adopted. So then, why do Labs need to be rescued? Labs4Rescue breaks it down with a variety of reasons:

  • Puppy Mills / Breeders

A problem across the United States, Labs also can be produced through puppy mills and unqualified breeders. People hope to supplement their incomes by breeding and selling dogs. “These ‘breeders’ essentially operate small-scale puppy mills and refuse to acknowledge that the “demand” for their ‘product’ is very low,” says Labs4Rescue.

  • Issues with Hunters & Hunting

Labs4Rescue explains the issues with hunting as thus: “Some dogs lack the enthusiasm to plunge into icy waters after a hapless water fowl. The Labrador population booms in southern shelters when the duck hunting season ends as dogs with inadequate hunting skills are surrendered.” Additionally, those small-scale puppy mills and irresponsible breeders will get rid of puppies left over after duck hunting season ends, whether that means killing, abandoning or dumping at a high kill shelter.

  • Spay/Neuter Laws

Many states that Labs4Rescue deals with have weak laws for spay and neuter, but because the lab is a sporting dog, they also run into spay/neuter issues with hunters. Essentially, there is a belief that a dog loses his/her instinct and aptitude for hunting when they are sterilized. The number of intact dogs is enormous, and many of them run free and mate indiscriminately, producing many, many puppies. Because their numbers are high, dogs can be “discarded” for perceived flaws, such as a small white spot on their chest (which is allowed under the breed standard) or because their hair is slightly longer than many local dog fanciers prefer.

  • Large Litters

Labrador females have large litters (10-12 puppies are not uncommon), and the number of deserving homes is simply not adequate to accommodate all the puppies. 

By relying entirely on adoption fees and donations, the non-profit happily accepted the Healthy Paws Rescue Race $10,000 grant. “We will use the grant money to help defray the costs of veterinary treatment needed to prepare dogs for adoptions, including spay/neuter, vaccinations, and heartworm testing and treatment if needed,” says Cathy Mahle, Labs4Rescue’s Founder and Director.

Labs4Rescue offers many ways for lovers of Labs to help: check out their sponsorship donations here to see if you can help a Lab in need with medical care or boarding. Any donation or sponsorship enables Labs4Rescue to ultimately help more dogs.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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