Rio in Need of Rescue

Helen Woodward Animal Center
Rio in Need of Rescue
Terminally Ill Canine Seeks Angelic Foster Family


Aug. 14, 2013

In its over 40 year history, Helen Woodward Animal Center has seen its share of heartwarming adoptions and heart-stopping rescues, but its current quest to find a home for one of the last of its Sandy survivors may be one of its most heartbreaking. Rio, a beautiful black Labrador Retriever blend was one of 49 orphan pets who made national news when they were flown across the country to Helen Woodward Animal Center on November 17th, 2012. The East Coast shelter dogs and cats had been waiting for forever homes when Hurricane Sandy hit and left their facilities uninhabitable. Upon arrival, Rio’s prospects looked rosy. The beautiful canine with a forever family in her sights had all the media attention an orphan pet could hope for to help her land oneTragically, Rio’s medical exam revealed a challenge of nature even bigger than the devastating Super Storm. Rio was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Now, with only months to live, finding her final forever home may be her biggest challenge of all.

“Rio is an incredibly affectionate dog with the people she gets to know and love,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Pet Trainer Rob Kuty. “But she needs a very special home due to her condition.” At 5 years old and 55 lbs., Rio has the heart and spirit of a young canine who longs to run and play. Unfortunately, the growing cancerous masses in her lungs and near her heart base, compromise her lung function leaving her winded and near collapse with too much exercise or excitement. Additionally, the condition is too dangerous to allow her a spay surgery, so Rio’s new family must be aware that she has not received this procedure.

“Animals know when they’re sick, but they can’t process what is actually happening to them,” continued Kuty. “Because of this, she is timid when she meets new people, can get stressed at times and likes the security of her crate. She is exceptionally sweet with other dogs and cats but it’s important that she stays fairly calm, so mellow pet friends are best.” Rio would do best in a low-key household with 1 or 2 adults and a fenced-in yard. She is not able to go hiking or jogging, but would love short, slow walks around the neighborhood.

Of course there is more than just the emotional cost of taking on a sick pet. There are the practical costs, as well. When Helen Woodward Animal Center Veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Oba suspected Rio’s diagnosis, the Center spent thousands of dollars for further extensive testing to confirm the facts and to find out if anything more could be done to lengthen her life. When the results proved terminal, the Center invested even more in finding the very best treatment available to preserve Rio’s quality of life for the time remaining. Rio is currently taking Furosemide twice a day and Heartgard twice a month, along with Activyl monthly for fleas and ticks. For many animal-lovers, the expense of taking on an ailing pet, even for a short time, is a deterrent. It is quite possible that Rio may have been surrendered by a family who knew of her health problems and made the decision to abandon her when they considered the upcoming costs of treating her.

But Rio has a few angels watching out for her. Upon hearing Rio’s story, Del Mar Albertsons/Sav-On Pharmacy Store Director Shaye Holden took quick action to get involved. Helen Woodward Animal Center President and CEO Mike Arms received a call from Holden with an offer to cover the costs of Rio’s medication expenses for any foster family willing to take Rio into their home. “We’re hoping this gesture will motivate someone in the community to welcome Rio into their family” stated Holden. “Like everyone else, we’re animal lovers too and know that pet care costs can be challenging, even for those with the biggest of hearts.”

Arms had been meeting with members of the national chain to develop a partnership with Albertson’s/SavOn’s Pet Med Program when Rio’s story came to light. “I recently became aware of their discount pharmaceutical club membership for pets,” commented Arms. “It’s an exceptional program and it’s going to be an incredible benefit to the orphan pets at the Center and to those who adopt one of our dogs or cats. What I wasn’t aware of was how truly the people at Albertson’s care about the lives of each individual pet. Their offer to help Rio goes beyond anything I would have expected. It really illustrates how much animals mean to them and how seriously they take their responsibility to serve their pet-loving customers.”

Helen Woodward Animal Center will be providing an Albertson’s/SavOn Pet Med Club card to every adopter, as of September 1st, 2013. In addition, Arms will encourage other rescue facilities to do the same for their adopters when he addresses attendees at the Center’s upcoming ACES International Conference. It is hoped that by getting a discount pet medical card into the hands of those who adopt, families will be less likely to give up ailing pets like Rio, leaving them homeless and alone when they are the most in need of love and security.

As is the beautiful nature of animals, Rio does not pity herself. Despite her health conditions, she is first and foremost a dog and possesses all the wonderful characteristics that come with being one. She continues to demonstrate a loving nature, longs to play, and would like nothing more than a forever home and a family to call her very own.

The Helen Woodward Animal Centeris currently seeking a final foster family for Rio who desperately deserves a forever home for the months she has remaining. Albertson’s/SavOn will cover all pharmaceutical costs for Rio’s care. For more information on Rio, or to foster Rio, please contact Denise Clark or Myrna Dignan in the Foster Department at: 858-756-4117 ext. 375, email or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.

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