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Winter brings desperate times for Red Lake Rosie's Rescue in Minnesota

Maddie being saved by Red Lake Rosie's Rescue.
Maddie being saved by Red Lake Rosie's Rescue.
Red Lake Rosie's Rescue.

As parts of the country are bracing for more winter weather, we in California are wondering where the rains and cold weather have gone. Even when it gets unseasonably cold in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, we don't expect snow in our coastal areas. That's something that happens in the distant mountains. Dogs aren't likely to freeze to death when it gets cold outside, but in Minnesota and Wisconsin, dogs can and do every winter.

That's what makes Red Lake Rosie's Rescue mission one of desperate need. This rescue focuses on animals found on the Red Lake Reservation in Northern Minnesota. According to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue website, the Red Lake Indian Reservation is located on land holdings about the size of Rhode Island. This is a place where houses and homes do not dominate the landscape. Instead, you'll find forests and wetlands, some place where rescue founder Karen Good, still sees eagles, hawks, foxes, deer and even wolves while she makes her rounds.

The rescue is named after a dog who was rescued in 1999 and given over to the Beltrami Humane Society in Bemidji, Minnesota. Good was the activities director there and trained Rosie as a therapy dog. In 2005, Good rescue another dog who she adopted and named Rosie II. Both Rosies have since passed away, but their legacy lives on in Karen Good's rescue.

A native of Red Lake, Good founded the rescue in 2006. By 2011, she was recognized as an outstanding volunteer by Kare 11 who every year selects "Eleven Who Care."

The 2010 census shows only 1, 731 people living in Red Lake. About 97 percent of the population are Native American and only 1.82 percent white. The median income is only just over $23,000 and about 37 percent of the families are below the poverty line.

Looking at the local weather for this week, the high will be -3, partly sunny and frigid. Later this week, snow is expected. According to Good who was contacted via email, "Typically we get our first snow the first week in November, but that may vary."

"The northern Minnesota has very harsh winters. Subzero wind-chill is common with lots of snow. This winter we had 6 weeks of subzero December and January. It got to 33 actual degrees below zero on one occasion, and with winds we had a wind chill of 60 below zero."

Winter in Red Lake ends sometime in April. While in Southern California, summer is generally considered the high season for cats and dogs being dumped and deserted, for Red Lake, Good explained, "Red Lake Rosie's finds that many animals are dumped in the late fall and winter time. This is particularly cruel and is so heartless to the animals."

While wolves may run in packs and foxes in pairs, both manage to survive the winter by making dens. Not all wolves and foxes survive the winter even though they have evolved enough to have dense winter coats. Many dog breeds are designed for a particular climate that might not have winters or for a particular function (lap dogs) that would make survival outside impossible in terms of size and protection against the elements.

As Good explained, " Again, our most critical time of animal suffering here is winter. Animals have no shelter, and many suffer malnutrition so that they don't have the caloric intake to fight the frigid temps. Most people do NOT allow their dogs indoors- so they are left outdoors to freeze in these conditions. Many also have mange so they do not have much hair to keep warm anyway. Very challenging here."

While many people in Southern California are thinking of spring already, Good says that "Typically our winter ends in April."

Red Lake Rosie's Rescue also works with other rescues. About five collies that originally came in to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue were turned over to Minnesota-Wisconsin Collie Rescue, including a dog that was almost shot as a mercy killing, Milo.

The winter isn't over for the dogs and cats at Red Lake, keeping Good and her team busy. If you're looking for a good cause to support and a worthy tax deduction, consider helping out the four-legged forgotten homeless at Red Lake and give to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue.

Red Lake Rosie's Rescue has a blog and a webpage.