Thirty Years of Helping New England’s Homeless Goldens 1985-2015

Since its formation in 1985, YGRR has found homes for over 5,200 Golden Retrievers in the six New England states. The success of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue has been the result of the efforts of hundreds of devoted Golden Retriever-loving volunteers.

Co-founders Joan Puglia and Susan Foster were members of the Yankee Golden Retriever Breed Club, but the Club was not in a position to financially support the establishment of a rescue group. Joan and Susan created YGRR as a completely separate nonprofit, charitable organization [501(c)(3)]. Within a few months a functional organization was formed and included a constitution, bylaws, policies, and procedures. Veterinarians throughout New England were contacted for free or discounted veterinary care and a network of foster homes set up. Since the program’s inception, all Rescue Goldens have been spayed or neutered and given all necessary and appropriate medical care prior to being made available for adoption. In addition, age and/or medical needs have never been a determining factor in the admission of dogs to the program.

With very limited resources, the early years of the program were a hand-to-mouth existence. A variety of fundraisers kept the dogs fed and their medical needs met. By 1990, YGRR had provided services to more than 600 Goldens. Efforts to publicize the program to animal control officers, animal shelters and veterinarians throughout New England were successful and the organization rapidly gained visibility. With more visibility came an ever increasing number of requests for our services. Growth in services translated into a growth in expenses. The simple fundraisers of the past were not enough to keep pace with our needs. Joining together with those having a genuine interest in the welfare of Golden Retrievers we established a membership, created a newsletter entitled The Golden Times, introduced special events such as an Annual Auction and Dog Walk and introduced a mail order catalog that sold a variety of items under the name of Golden Goodies. Not only did this bring new revenue but also new volunteers and adopters into the program.

As the years progressed the demand for YGRR services exploded, outgrowing the capabilities of our cooperating veterinarians and boarding kennels. It was obvious that YGRR needed a home of its own. Although YGRR was able to purchase Riverview in Hudson in 1996 following a very successful capital campaign, it was clear that the property was not sufficient to support the organization’s needs unless the kennel facilities were expanded. As a result a second capital campaign was conducted in 1999 and 2000 to obtain funds to build a state-of-the-art rescue, adoption and education center in Hudson, Massachusetts. This beautiful, twenty-two-acre property was not the result of one person’s labor but rather the product of many gifts, large and small, from individuals as well as foundations. The physical plant of Riverview is the framework that allows the true purpose of the organization to grow. The result is further enhanced by thousands of hours of donated volunteer manual labor.

Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue is an organization that has established a caring, professional presence in the animal shelter environment. The program is now carried on by a small professional staff that includes an Executive Director, a Kennel Manager and an Adoption/Intake Coordinator. These positions are augmented by hands-on volunteers under the guidance of a hard working volunteer Board of Directors.

Each year, hundreds of YGRR volunteers provide thousands of hours of service in support of various facets of our program. Volunteers attend specialized training programs and perform home visits on prospective adopters as well as transport dogs from shelters and pounds to participating veterinarians. Volunteers are crucial in educating the public about the program and performing community outreach on YGRR’s behalf. Volunteers maintain the website, send out adoption applications and walk dogs at Riverview. It is the commitment of these volunteers and our staff that keeps YGRR running and it is the Goldens they serve who inspire these efforts.

In 2015 we celebrated our 30th anniversary. The challenges continue, but the rewards are great. The number of aging and/or Goldens with medical needs has greatly increased. At any given time more than 50% of the Goldens at Riverview fall into these categories. From hip dysplasia to heartworm disease, epilepsy to morbid obesity, the problems are varied and challenging. With the construction of the new Senior Center at Riverview, we are able to more comfortably house and assist the most frail of our kennel residents.

Although they have been refined and made more efficient, most of the policies and procedures designed during the organization’s first year still govern YGRR’s operations today. Providing exemplary medical care and permanent, loving homes for Goldens in need is the purpose of YGRR and all functions support the accomplishment of that goal.

We are eternally grateful to all our supporters. We continue to work on improving our services and look forward to another 25 years of growth. Your compassion and generosity has helped us re-write so many sad stories. We could not do it without you!