Aimee and Her Rescues Teach Compassion and Animal Welfare
Aimee Goodwin, a Norwich local, has been rescuing dogs for many years. The first dog the Goodwins rescued as a family, a German Shepherd named Griffin, is now 14 years old. Now they have three.
For many years, Aimee took part in helping transport dogs from high kill shelters to New England and into the hands of various nonprofit rescue groups, foster families, or adoptive families. Every weekend, hundreds of dogs and cats are transported up the east coast to New England. “When my now 16-year-old son was younger, we would meet those transports in White River Jct, VT, where they would switch over, just to walk the dogs, to find a way for him to participate.”
Aimee tried being a foster but she said, “we can’t really move the dogs along. When we foster we keep the dogs and that’s called a “foster fail” in the rescue world. We have two “foster fails” and a total of three dogs.”
The second two dogs were added to the family slowly. Maximoto, the first of two foster fails, was a former puppy mill breeding dog in Tennessee. He came from National Mill Dog Rescue, an organization based out of Colorado that travels to puppy mill auctions and purchases all the dogs in hopes of shutting down the mills.
When a dog comes out of a mill situation, they have no experience with anything in the outside world. They are not housetrained, everything can be scary and overwhelming and it can take a long time to build trust. Not all mill dogs require as much work, but some do.
Maximoto is some kind of Chihuahua/Terrier mix, and when Aimee got him, she quickly recognized just how much work he was going to be. He was neurotic and a bolter. She realized that he was likely going to be bounced around from home to home, so the Goodwins kept him -it will be five years this coming February. Now, she says, he is the best dog. “He’s hilarious, still has his issues, but he is the baby of the family.”
Recently, Aimee has become interested in working with Animal Welfare Foundation Rincon, in Rincon, Puerto Rico. One of the catalysts for this shift was a desire to keep her kids interested in rescue. She was finding that work in the Southeast was so traumatic for them, having to walk into shelters filled with dogs who only have 5 days to live.
The situation in Puerto Rico is traumatic but not as bad. In Puerto Rico, they have been hit hard by the recession from 2008 and have yet to recover. Because of the socio-economic situation, they are seeing families move to the continental United States at an exponential rate. There are now more Puerto Rican families living in the continental U.S. than on the island.
When these families move, they often can’t afford to take their pets, so they take the collars off of their dogs and leave them. Now there are large numbers of dogs on the island reproducing and getting diseases.
The Animal Welfare Foundation Rincon focuses heavily on spaying and neutering these loose dogs and also tries to get some of them to adoptive families or rescues in the U.S. American Airlines, through their philanthropic program, subsidizes the travel for these dogs so they can fly to Logan Airport for $40. The Puerto Rican rescue dogs provided Aimee and the rest of the Goodwins with their second “foster fail,” Playa, a 1 ½ yr old mutt from Rincon, Puerto Rico.
Now, Aimee has set out to educate teens about the animal welfare issues in Puerto Rico. In March 2017, a group of 14 students and Tim Berube, a social studies teacher, and another chaperone from Hanover High School will be traveling to Rincon, Puerto Rico (where Playa is from) to learn firsthand about animal welfare issues. Aimee’s son is just as excited, he and two other students are trip leaders.
While there, the group will be working with Animal Welfare Foundation Rincon, their organizers, veterinarians, and dogs. They will be feeding orphaned puppies and helping local foster families to enhance their properties to support the care of the dogs. They will be helping to put on a fundraising event, learning about the unique economic and political climate in Puerto Rico that leads to pet abandonment and bringing back fully vetted pets to be placed in loving homes here in the Upper Valley. Follow their group by liking their Facebook page Surf N’ Sato (“sato” is a Puerto Rican nickname for a stray dog.)