Friday, September 12, 2014

DeeDee in the news!


Nonprofit leader rescues dogs from reservation
by Nancy Livingston/Contributing Writer

It seems unlikely that a 60-year-old single mom and small business owner from Vadnais Heights would develop a passion for rescuing dogs and cats abandoned hundreds of miles away on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

But that is just what has happened to DeeDee Welles.

Welles said one visit to Red Lake convinced her of the need to devote her energy to Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue, a nonprofit organization founded eight years ago by tribal member and educator Karen Good. Welles is now the metro coordinator of the program, which got its name from the first dog that was rescued: a yellow lab mix named Rosie. (Rosie became a nursing home therapy dog and served until her death last year.)

Welles said the hundreds of dogs roaming and breeding on Red Lake without reliable food or water have a life span of about two years. In addition to malnutrition, many of the dogs also suffer from mange, broken legs, bullet wounds and “embedded collar,” a festering wound that develops when a collared puppy grows up and the collar tightens around his neck.

“We get some purebreds, but most of our (rescued) dogs are mutts,” said Welles. “Surprisingly, the temperaments of our dogs are phenomenal. We have had very few that have been aggressive toward humans.”

Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue holds a half dozen or so clinics every year at Red Lake to have veterinarians spay and neuter animals. The fixed-up pets are then transported to qualified families who pay from $300 to $350 to adopt them.

Each clinic costs about $6,500 to conduct, and Welles and other volunteers must raise the money. Welles also helps staff the clinics, helping to socialize and clean up after the dogs and cats.

“It is physically demanding work,” said Welles, noting that it is not easy to lift an 80 to 90-pound husky into a crate.

Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue used to get almost all big dogs such as huskies, German sheperds and labradors, but that has changed. Now the volunteers are seeing many more small-breed dogs that were abandoned after people bred them for money. Sometimes whole litters of puppies are abandoned and left to fend on their own. Good Samaritans notify the program when the animals are found on the reservation, which is 800,000 acres, or about the size of Rhode Island. There are no veterinarians available on the reservation.

Since it began in 2006, Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue has rescued over 5,200 dogs, including 700 in 2013. Welles said they could rescue hundreds more if they had more resources and volunteers.

Welles herself currently has two foster dogs and three permanent (formerly foster) dogs in her suburban home. All seem cheerful, healthy and oblivious to their troubled histories.

In addition to her work with Red Lake Rosie’s, Welles also runs a home business called “Details: Organizing It All.” She helps individuals and businesses get and stay organized.

For more information about Red Lake Rosies, visit

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