Reggie found his way to GRRR by way of Nebraska with the help of former GRRR volunteer Janet Leudtke. For several years, Leudtke volunteered for GRRR helping GRRR dogs find homes. In 2001, Leudtke founded the successful dog rescue Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue also located in Colorado. Now retired, Leudtke currently resides in Nebraska. However, her mission to help Goldens in need continues, and even though she has lives in Nebraska, she still works with Mary Kenton, the current caretaker of Phoebe’s Place, to help disadvantaged Goldens find forever homes. Leudtke found Reggie through a friend who knew of a family breeding Golden Retrievers. After years of living as a breeding stud on a farm, Reggie had cataracts that were inhibiting his sight. The breeders decided that Reggie needed a new home. Knowing about her passion for Goldens, a friend connected Leudtke with Reggie.
When Leudtke first saw Reggie, there were no physical signs of abuse. She approximated his age to be 7-8 years old. Though he lived outside the majority of his life, Reggie seemed very loving and able to adjust to living in a home easily. And though he was unable to see, his personality showed that he was very much aware of his surroundings: when Leudtke and her husband would toss a ball for him to play, he acted aware of where it was. But once she took him to Westfield Small Animal Clinic in North Platte Nebraska to be neutered and have his check-up, his story began to unfold.
At the veterinarian, they realized that even though Reggie has been used for breeding, his vaccinations were not up to date. It was also confirmed that he had cataracts. Cataracts in Golden Retrievers are similar to those in humans; they usually affect older animals, although juvenile cataracts do occur. Unfortunately, the only treatment for canine cataracts can be very expensive. This is the surgical option, where the cloudy or blurry portion of the lens is physically removed. It is usually not covered by dog health insurance. For Reggie, his cataracts have been neglected for too long and could not be helped.
Leudtke contacted Mary Kenton to help with finding Reggie a forever home. After staying with the Leudtke’s for five days, Reggie safely made the trip out to Arvada, Colorado with the help of the GRRR transport team. GRRR has an active transport team set up between Nebraska and Colorado. When Reggie first arrived at Phoebe’s Place, Kenton said that he was very affectionate and needy. He was immediately good at being in the house and natural about going to the bathroom outside. He was placed with the Fishers right away, who already have three Goldens in their home. The Fishers took him in to see GRRR’s recommended veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Hammond, to see if surgery was a possibility at all for Reggie’s cataracts. However, Dr. Hammond confirmed that at that point, nothing could be done: Reggie will be blind for life. If he had received treatment sooner, he might have been able to have surgery with the help of the Golden Angel Fund. However, his previous breeders/owners neglected to supply him with proper veterinary care.
It gets even worse: his cataracts may also be genetic. Goldens with hereditary cataracts should not be bred. If they are bred, they pass this gene to their litters. This means if Reggie has genetic cataracts, all the litters produced by him would have this gene, too. This is one of the many problems that can occur from “backyard breeders.” Unlike puppy mill owners, who operate high-volume breeding programs in squalid living conditions, the term “backyard breeder” can apply to any number of situations. The ASPCA defines a backyard breeder as an “Individual whose pet either gets bred by accident, or who breeds on purpose for a variety of reasons—a desire to make extra money, for example, or to let the children witness ‘the miracle of birth.’ The animals involved are usually not tested for genetics or health.”
Legitimate responsible breeders have health records of multiple generations of dogs and can carefully screen for the possibility of serious genetic problems. The majority of backyard breeders only know the health history of their own dog and will make assumptions based on what they know. However, there may have been a genetic predisposition toward hip dysplasia or, as in Reggie’s case cataracts, in their dog’s line that they are unaware of. Lacking information about traits from previous generations can create not just costly health problems, but also temperament problems. This leads to dogs being abandoned, placed in shelters or worse.
Luckily for Reggie, GRRR has mobilized a transport team and works with a rescue network that extends beyond the borders of Colorado. However, though he is ineligible for surgery, Reggie requires medications to help improve his quality of living which are very costly. Will you help improve Reggie’s quality of life?