If you’re on a stroll in your neighborhood and encounter a gregarious Golden Retriever who wants to say hello, it’s possible your new friend is an alumnus of GRIN – Golden Retrievers in Need Rescue Service.  Founded in 1992 by a group of Golden enthusiasts, GRIN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization on a mission to find good homes for the countless Goldens facing euthanasia and homelessness each year.  GRIN has found homes for over 4,500 dogs throughout Northeast/Central Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and right here in Gates Mills.  Two-time GRIN adopter and Gates Mills resident Ingrid Ruppe has had Goldens for over 30 years and considers the breed “pure sunshine.”  After working with GRIN to adopt Daisy and Stanley, Ingrid is fully committed to the breed, to rescue and says that any future dogs that become a part of her family will be rescue dogs.

Without a bricks-and-mortar presence, GRIN mobilizes its all-volunteer team to save the lives of Golden Retrievers. Here’s how the process works. Once GRIN becomes aware of a dog in need, a volunteer transporter picks up the dog and takes it to a vet partner for evaluation and treatment.  Increasingly, dogs come in with medical issues, GRIN spends on average over $1,200 per dog.  While the dog is receiving veterinary care, the foster team works to match it with a foster family.  Each dog spends several weeks in a foster home receiving the love and care that helps them overcome any medical or behavioral issues.  Dogs with behavioral issues work with professional behaviorists and trainers to ensure they reach their full potential and adoptability. The foster family is an essential part of the adoption process, helping GRIN understand the needs of the dog and what type of adoptive home will be the best fit.  Using this knowledge, the adoption team matches the dog with a suitable adopter and conducts a meet-and-greet with the potential adoptive family and the dog.  If all goes well, this lucky Golden Retriever moves into its “furever” home.  Amora, who was an unclaimed stray at a shelter in Lorain County is just one example of a lucky dog that experienced this process.  This golden girl came to GRIN extremely thin and with skin issues and is now the sweetest and goofiest gal who loves napping in the sun and chasing squirrels.

The demand for GRIN’s services has exploded, with the number of dogs placed increasing 112% between 2021 and 2022. In 2022, GRIN rescued 473 dogs with over $321,000 spent in vet bills. The reasons for this exponential growth are the pandemic and puppy mills, according to Lisa Kime, president of GRIN’s board of trustees. Lisa tells us, “Looking for home companionship during the pandemic, many families added a puppy and the demand for these dogs was largely met by puppy mills, which are all too prevalent in Ohio.  With the return to in-person work in 2022, many dogs became a lower priority for some families and shelters were flooded with abandoned dogs.  Additionally, as demand plummeted, puppy mills started to divest of breeding dogs and unsellable puppies.  GRIN stepped in to rescue the impacted Golden Retrievers.  With the sluggish economy and inflationary pressures in 2023, owner relinquishments continue to surge, and GRIN is on track for another record-setting year of intakes.”  Casey is one of many breeding dogs who came to GRIN.  At age five and after a lifetime of breeding in an Ohio puppy mill, she was relinquished to GRIN and was initially extremely shut down.  In her adopted home, Casey has blossomed into a confident, trusting, and happy dog alongside her Golden brother, Willow.

The inflow of Golden Retrievers that need homes has no end in sight.  Goldens like Lisa Kime’s Starr, who was relinquished by her previous owner when experiencing financial difficulties.  GRIN remains committed to these dogs. Every Golden Retriever that comes into GRIN’s care needs a foster home and that is the most pressing issue that GRIN faces – the need to expand its pool of foster homes and adopters so that every abandoned dog has the chance to live the life it was born to live.

Written by GRIN volunteer:  Lisa Corwin

This article was published in the May 2023 issue of Stroll Magazine. Link to the Stroll webpage:  https://www.strollmag.com/locations/gates-mills-oh/.