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Dog Rescue, With Resources

Linda Weinberg, patient care manager on Bayview's GCRC, with her own rehabilitated, three-legged Doberman, Trevor

Heidi, now in happier times
Fate, for sure, had not been kind to Heidi, a young Doberman pup. She was kept outside day and night, no matter how hot or how cold, on a paved-over, fenced-in plot. She spent most of her time in a cramped kennel, and once a day, her owners pushed food under the door.

Finally, a concerned neighbor convinced the family to surrender the dog to an organization called Doberman Assistance, Rescue and Education, or DAR&E. The group placed Heidi in a temporary home where she could be rehabilitated and readied for adoption. "Heidi had never worn a collar, walked on a leash, known the feeling of grass under her paws, or been in a house with people and other dogs. Her 'foster parents' had to socialize her and build her confidence," says Linda Weinberg, DAR&E vice president.

Weinberg oversees some 90 volunteers who rehabilitate dogs like Heidi that have been abused or abandoned or are no longer wanted. Each year, they "re-home" 100 Dobermans on average in Maryland, D.C., and northern Virginia. Weinberg brings an unwavering passion to dog rescue. And thanks to her job as nurse manager of the General Clinical Research Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, she brings a bounty of practical resources as well. She collects used medical supplies (only those that would otherwise be thrown out), and she does it in a big way.

It all started with the linens. "I noticed they were throwing away blankets, and I thought, Maybe the dogs could use that." Linens, she says, are especially helpful when transporting rescued dogs. "Some are emaciated, just laying down on bone." She collected linens at Bayview, Howard County General Hospital and even hospitals in Prince George's County and northern Virginia. "I kept it all down in my basement. Eventually, I became overwhelmed, and I started reaching out and giving linens to animal shelters and to vets in exchange for discounted care."

At Bayview, word of Weinberg's needs began to spread, and people began to call. A pharmaceutical company's research study had been completed. Did she need kits for blood draws? A small centrifuge? "Then someone mentioned Central Sterile, and I moved into surgical supplies, like hemostats, Kelly clamps and surgical scissors. I put together suture removal kits. We gave some to vets to use as back-ups, and we began to train volunteers how to remove stitches after a spay."

Weinberg is also founding president of the Maryland Alliance of Canine Rescues (MACR), an umbrella organization for multiple dog rescue groups, so she is able to funnel the medical supplies not just to Dobermans, but also to an extensive network of rescuers who represent breeds like German Shepherds and Great Danes. "Linda saw a need and found a way to fill it," says Sue Eller, lab manager for Hopkins Hospital's Minimally Invasive Surgical Training Center and, as a rescuer of Burnese Mountain Dogs, an officer on the MACR board.

Eller and Weinberg urge people to adopt rescue dogs. "Some don't want to because they're fearful the dogs won't be friendly," says Eller. "Actually, the ones who are treated the worst are some of the nicest dogs. They respond. For so long, they have wanted to be loved." Most of their rehabilitated dogs are doing swimmingly; a few, Weinberg and Eller point out, are even winning AKC titles.

As for Heidi, she finally found her "forever home," as it is known in rescue parlance. She was adopted by a retired minister and today lives on a farm in West Virginia. For a dog, life doesn't get much better than that.

- Ann Bennett Swingle



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