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K-9 Rescue continues to provide homes for hundreds of lost and stray animals 

by John Sucansky

Staff Writer for Thisweek Life and Times

  A bright, questioning eye peers out of the kennel in Chelon Lund-Rasmussen's minivan. The cage door opens and 30 pounds of black furry love comes racing out of the van, ready for a belly rub or a caring scratch behind the ears. Lund-Rasmussen introduces Bandit and herself. She is with K-9 Rescue, an all-volunteer, nonprofit pet rescue and placement organization, and her companion Bandit, is a labrador retriever who is up for adoption. 

  She takes Bandit into the Shamrock Animal Hospital in Rosemount because he will be having stitches removed from his eye surgery, one of many procedures performed by Dr. Kurt Walter-Hansen, the owner of the hospital. Walter-Hansen volunteers his time to provide affordable care to the animals rescued by Lund-Rasmussen's organization.

  Bandit had an eye removed because of glaucoma. However, he is more than capable of giving and receiving puppy love. He has been washed, flea-dipped, updated with his immunizations and implanted with a microchip tracking device that will inform authorities who he belongs to if he is ever lost.

  Lund-Rasmussen said K-9 Rescue has been going strong since 1994. The group, which began rescuing dogs only, has now progressed into placing cats and rabbits in adoptive homes as well. She said that in 1994, the group place 34 dogs. Last year, K-9 Rescue placed approximately 700 animals.

  "About 200 of those were dogs, and the other 500 were cats," she said. What began primarily as a program to rescue dogs from shelters, has now been surpassed by its cat placement program. The organization rescues animals from area animal control facilities and humane centers. The group looks for animals that are acceptable pets, not extremely old or severely injured animals. Walter-Hansen said that all the animals, before they are given to adoptive families, are spayed or neutered to help prevent future problems of unwanted animals through unchecked breeding. The adoption fee covers the cost of the operation, which is done by Walter-Hansen at a discounted rate of approximately 40 percent.

  Animals are also tested for disease. Dogs are given a heartworm test, fecal test and distemper and rabies shots. Cats are checked for feline leukemia in addition to the tests administered to dogs. K-9 Rescue does not employ a shelter for the animals they rescue. Instead, the animals are taken to foster families who get to know them and give them love. This helps in the adoption process, said Lund-Rasmussen, because it prepares the animals to live with people. It also allows the foster families a chance to note the animals' particular needs, so that a proper adoptive family can be selected based on what they are able to provide for the animal's needs.

  "Tell us about the type of pet that will fit your lifestyle. We will tell you about the dogs and cats that we have available. We will try to match you with an appropriate companion." This is the mission statement of K-9 Rescue.

  Information about the animals available for adoption is available on the K-9 Rescue Web site at www.K-9rescue.org. Walter-Hansen said a big contributor to animals ending up in shelters is that 75 percent of the animals have no identification and only 30 percent of those animals will be claimed by their owners. The organization has 20 volunteer foster homes throughout the metropolitan area.

  Lund Rasmussen said, "Shamrock Animal Hospital has done a fantastic job helping K-9 Rescue find homes for the rescued animals. Pets that are in the program are kept until they are adopted, unlike animal control facilities where they are euthanized or given to research facilities." She said the use of the Internet has helped to place more animals than they ever before. Photos, a brief description of the animal's personality and medical history are available on the Web site, as well as their location in the state or country.

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