Labrador Rescue urges dog owners to consider fostering


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Tom Brown shares a quiet moment with his dog Chance.

Adam Palumbo

At first reference, Labrador Retrievers might be associated with Canada. There’s the obvious geographical reference to Canada’s northeastern-most province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A quick look around Florida lets anyone know that this is a Florida dog.

With that status, there’s hardship. That sad fate leads to a lot of homeless Labrador Retrievers.

Just ask Alyssa Lucas and Tom Brown. They both are volunteers for Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida — Space Coast. Lucas is the district coordinator and her territory also includes work in Volusia County, as well as Brevard County, when it’s needed.

That’s a nebulous term. There’s more work than hours in a day for the organization. Log in to lrrpof.org for a look at all the homeless dogs.

“Finding fosters — it is so hard,’’ said Lucas, who was born in Maryland and has lived in Brevard since 1999. “People are afraid that they will become attached to the dog and have a hard time giving it up. I’ve seen how rewarding it is to see the complete turnaround of a dog that had shut down and given up. They just need to have the companionship. It’s the most rewarding thing that I’ve done.’’

Brown, a 61-year-old native of North Carolina, has lived in Suntree since 2004. He does home visits to approve adoptions.

“You just want to make sure that it’s a good environment,’’ said Brown, who is a retired member of the U.S. Coast Guard. “If they’re adopting a puppy, you want somebody there. So many of these dogs don’t come to us in good shape. We want to make sure they’re going to a good home.’’

A fenced yard is no longer required. That was a troublesome requirement in the past, which might have prevented dogs from going to excellent homes.

“People live in condos and apartments, and those places are more dog friendly than they used to be,’’ Brown said. “There also are more dog parks.’’

A lack of foster homes might prevent that meeting between a good dog and a good owner.

“It takes a special kind of person to be a foster,’’ Brown said. “There’s no guarantee about the temperament of the dog. These dogs might have been mistreated. Some fosters have given up after 10 minutes. You have to hope that they are committed to stick it out. Most will commit to do it, but they might not do it twice.’’

The pool of potential fosters also could be limited since most already have dogs of their own.

“The dogs might have to be kept separate for a period of time,’’ Brown said. “You don’t know where the dogs are from. They could have been on the street and just thrown out. They might have more problems.’’

Some of the dogs might have had a good home with a lousy owner.

“I had a guy surrender a 12-year-old Labrador and then he wanted to adopt a puppy from us,’’ Brown said. “That didn’t happen. You see it all with this stuff. You do the best with what you’ve got. You can’t save them all.’’

Still, Brown and Lucas try.

“Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida is a fantastic organization,’’ Lucas said. “There was a dog named Gracie, who was 9 years old. She was an old girl from a shelter, who had a hip issue. Labrador Rescue paid for a double-hip replacement. She underwent therapy and was fostered in Rockledge. We really do care about these dogs.’’