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As many of you are aware, we started our rescue over twenty years ago with horses, some farm stock and of course Dogs that were in danger of being euthanized.

Our model, was to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home the dogs. Whatever the dogs needed; we gave them. This included social skills, time, medical attention, training, learning to trust humans. We did whatever it took to accommodate them with experienced, compassionate staff members and loving, committed volunteers. 

We have provided foster homes for injured dogs, pregnant dogs and new mama dogs with their puppies. We have worked tirelessly 24 hours a day, 365 days every year. We have helped with disasters such as hurricane Katrina with myself and two volunteers working at shelters in Louisiana for weeks. We returned to California with sixty plus dogs with the help of SF SPCA and Marin Humane Society after the dogs were airlifted on the day hurricane Rita was about to reach land. 

We have shared our property to house livestock during fires, we have shared the property with other rescue groups needing a place for animals to transition. We have many special relationships with rescues far and wide, in the US and overseas countries. We hope to be able to continue to help and advocate where needed.

In June of 2019 Big Dog Rescue as you knew it disbanded. We have been focusing on transport, spay and neuter and had our facility at Roberts Ranch Lane re-purposed for disaster response and sheltering animals from families escaping from domestic abuse that are unable to keep their animals at family shelters.

We have built a wonderful caring community over the years. Keeping connected is important for us, we will keep Facebook open with updates so that we can stay connected with our adopted pets and their human families. Please keep posting those funny and fabulous photos of you and your furry friends enjoying life. We are also hoping to have several weekend get-togethers where volunteers and their pets can keep in touch with each other. Please email us if you are interested in meet-ups or you have ideas on get-togethers.

We would like to thank each and every volunteer and foster parent for their support and commitment over the years.

What is a dog’s life worth? 
Thoughts from Cheryl, Big Dog Rescue’s founder 

 What is a dog’s life worth? Not very much, according to some, even less if the dog’s a rescue. After all, it is “just” a shelter dog—not a family pet.

 To us at Big Dog Rescue, each and every life is precious—a life worth saving. This is what we do, day in and day out. Sadly, many vets see this differently. Bosco is one dog who very nearly wasn’t saved, because of ten dollars and the belief that a dog still looking for their family isn’t worth the fight

 Bosco was surrendered to Kern County by his owner. He didn’t do anything wrong, but the family was moving and didn’t want him any more, or the hassle of trying to move with him. Instead, he was slated for euthanasia. This was a dog who lost his family, lost his home, who had done nothing wrong, and this perfectly kind and gentle soul was sentenced to death.

 He spent 2 days in that shelter waiting to die. During those awful two days a staff member at Kern took pity on Bosco. This person could see the value in Bosco, and his big heart. They started looking for a rescue, trying to help Bosco. They contacted us, hoping we could see the value in Bosco, too, and begged us to take him in. We did, and we agreed. We saw his sweetness, and love, and Bosco joined us at Big Dog.

 Bosco came to us Thursday afternoon, August 30th. He seemed friendly and healthy. Sadly, by Friday Bosco started to show signs of what we believed was kennel cough. This is a common illness shelter dogs contract, due to the stress of being amongst cement and metal and desperation, being hosed and left soaking wet, often without a bed or blanket, wondering where their family went 

 However, Bosco did not respond to the typical treatment of kennel cough. By Monday evening, he had an exceptionally high fever. Even more frightening, he was so weak he could not stand. We rushed him to the 24-hour emergency vet where he and one of our wonderful volunteers waited together until 1:30 am to get help.

 Finally, Bosco was admitted to the emergency clinic. Veterinarians gave Bosco fluids and life support measures, while they tried to figure our what was wrong. On Tuesday we called the shelter that transferred Bosco to us, and spoke to their doctor. She informed us that there were several cases of distemper in the shelter. Distemper is very different from kennel cough. 

 Distemper is normally as sure a death sentence as the original one Bosco faced.

 Devastated, we contacted the clinic taking care of Bosco. We shared the sad news of the cases of distemper at Bosco’s prior shelter, and asked that they add a test for distemper into their battery of tests.

 That test came back positive.

 At this point we were frightened, and sad, and ready to do whatever we could to help this sweet, kind, dog who had far too often been hurt and abandoned by those meant to care for him.

 To our surprise and dismay, it was recommended to us by the clinic that we euthanize Bosco. “This is a shelter dog,” was the reasoning we were given, and “no ones pet.”

 Bosco was, yet again, facing death. His prior owner, supposed to be his caregiver, never vaccinated Bosco, and then discarded him to a high kill shelter.

 The vaccine to prevent distemper is $10 at any VIP clinic.

 For the cost of a $10 vaccine, Bosco was waiting to die.

 We at Big Dog had the conversation that we have had to have so many times in the past. Do we spend thousands of dollars on a shelter dog that is homeless and alone? The answer was the same as it always is for us: this life matters. His life matters. Bosco’s life matters. Every life matters.

 We are going to do whatever we can to save this dog. Our employees, our volunteers, our donors, everyone here is here out of love. We always get attached to the warm eyes and wagging tail, to the open heart before us, who has so often faced so much cruelty and negligence in their life, while offering nothing but love. We at Big Dog want to always do our best to offer these animals the respect and love they deserve in return for the love they give us. We made our choice; we instructed the vet to save “the shelter dog.”

 We have made our promise to Bosco: your life is worth saving. We promise him, and every dog to whom we open our hearts and home, that we will not give up on him, whatever the cost.

 Today, we finally bring Bosco back to BDR. He is weak, but alive. So far we have spent approximately $4,000 saving this “shelter dog.” We will doubtless spend more The first person in his life he had, who was supposed to care for him, wouldn’t get him a $10 vaccine to save his life. The vet who was supposed to care for him thought that he should die because he was a rescue dog with no family to call his own. He wasn’t worth it.

 We at Big Dog value life over dollars. We are thankful Bosco gets a second chance for a family to value him and love him. We are thankful to all our volunteers and donors who help us to be able to make that choice, and help dogs like Bosco. We are thankful for all that our volunteers and donors do so that we can be the first people in Bosco’s life who are putting him first, who are choosing him—choosing him over dollars, choosing him over convenience. We choose him. We choose care. We choose love. 

 Please vaccinate your dogs—they deserve your protection. 

Safe and non-safe human foods for dogs

Before giving your dog foods that you crave, keep reading to learn which foods are safe and which can send your dog straight to the vet.  

Chocolate - No

Chocolate contains a very toxic substance called methylxanthines, which are stimulants that stop a dog's metabolic process. Even just a little bit of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause diarrhea and vomiting. A large amount can cause seizures, irregular heart function, and even death. 

Shrimp - Yes. A few shrimp every now and then is fine for your dog, but only if they are fully cooked and the shell (including the tail, head, and legs) is removed completely.

Eggs - Yes. Eggs are safe for dogs as long as long as they are fully cooked. Cooked eggs are a wonderful source of protein and can help an upset stomach. However, eating raw egg whites can give dogs biotin deficiency, so be sure to cook the eggs all the way through before giving them to your pet.

Turkey - Yes. Turkey is fine for dogs as long as it is not covered in garlic (which can be very toxic to dogs) and seasonings. Also be sure to remove excess fat and skin from the meat and don't forget to check for bones; poultry bones can splinter during digestion, causing blockage or even tears in the intestines.

Cheese - Yes. As long as your dog isn't lactose intolerant, which is rare but still possible in canines, cheese can be a great treat.

Peanut butter - Yes. Just like whole peanuts, peanut butter is an excellent source of protein for dogs.  Raw, unsalted peanut butter is the healthiest option because it doesn't contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that can be toxic to dogs.

Popcorn - Yes. Unsalted, unbuttered, plain air-popped popcorn is OK for your dog in moderation. It contains riboflavin and thiamine, both of which promote eye health and digestion, as well as small amounts of iron and protein. Be sure to pop the kernels all the way before giving them to your dog, as unpopped kernels could become a choking hazard.

Cinnamon - No. Cinnamon and its oils can irritate the inside of pets' mouths, making them uncomfortable and sick. It can lower a dog's blood sugar too much and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, increased, or decreased heart rate and even liver disease. If they inhale it in powder form, cinnamon can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, and choking.

Pork / ham - No. There is a reason most dog foods contain beef, chicken, fish, and other meats, but not pork. Pigs are very prone to parasites because they'll eat virtually anything they can find, and those parasites don't always cook out properly.Pork bones, both cooked and uncooked, are very dangerous, too, as they can easily splinter in a dog's stomach and intestines.

Corn - No. A little bit of corn won't exactly hurt your dog, but it should still be avoided. Most dry dog foods already contain fillers such as wheat and corn, so why give them more when they're meant to be carnivores? Also, if a dog eats pieces of or a whole corncob, it can cause intestinal blockage.

Fish - Yes. Fish contains good fats and amino acids, giving your dog a nice health boost. Salmon and sardines are especially beneficial - salmon because it's loaded with vitamins and protein, and sardines because they have soft, digestible bones for extra calcium. With the exception of sardines, be sure to pick out all the tiny bones, which can be tedious but is necessary. Never feed your dog uncooked or under-cooked fish, only fully cooked and cooled, and limit your dog's fish intake to no more than twice a week.

Bread - Yes. Small amounts of plain bread (no spices and definitely no raisins) won't hurt your dog, but it also won't provide any health benefits either. It has no nutritional value and can really pack on the carbohydrates and calories, just like in people.

Yogurt - Yes. Plain yogurt is a perfectly acceptable snack for dogs. It is rich with protein and calcium. The active bacteria in yogurt can help strengthen the digestive system with probiotics. Be sure to skip over yogurts with added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Tuna - Yes. In moderation, cooked fresh tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes heart and eye health. As for canned tuna, it contains small amounts of mercury and sodium, which should be avoided in excess. A little bit of canned tuna and tuna juice here and there is fine - prepared only in water, not oil - as long as it doesn't contain any spices. 

Honey - Yes. Honey is packed with countless nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants. Feeding dogs a tablespoon of local honey twice a day can help with allergies because it introduces small amounts of pollen to their systems, building up immunity to allergens in your area. In addition to consuming honey, the sticky spread can also be used as a topical treatment for burns and superficial cuts. 

Garlic - No. Like onions, leeks, and chives, garlic is part of the Allium family, and it is five times more toxic to dogs than the rest of the Allium plants. Garlic can create anemia in dogs, causing side effects such as pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness, and collapsing. Poisoning from garlic and onions may have delayed symptoms, so if you think your dog may have eaten some, monitor him or her for a few days, not just right after consumption.

Salmon - Yes. As mentioned above, fully cooked salmon is an excellent source of protein, good fats and amino acids. It promotes joint and brain health and gives their immune systems a nice boots. However, raw or undercooked salmon contains parasites that can make dogs very sick, causing vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and, in extreme cases, even death. Be sure to cook salmon all the way through (the FDA recommends at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit) and the parasites should cook out. 

Ice cream - No. As refreshing of a treat ice cream is, it's best not to share it with your dog. Canines don't digest dairy very well, and many even have a slight intolerance to lactose, a sugar found in milk products. Although it's also a dairy product, frozen yogurt is a much better alternative. To avoid the milk altogether, freeze chunks of strawberries, raspberries, apples, and pineapples and give them to your dog as a sweet, icy treat.

Coconut - Yes. This funky fruit contain Lauric, which strengthens the immune system by fighting off viruses. It can also help with bad breath and clearing up skin conditions like hot spots, flea allergies, and itchy skin. Coconut milk and coconut oil are safe for dogs too. Just be sure your dog doesn't get its paws on the furry outside of the shell, which can get lodged in the throat.

Almonds - No. Almonds may not necessarily be toxic to dogs like pecans, walnuts and macadamia nuts are, but they can block the esophagus or even tear the windpipe if not chewed completely. Salted almonds are especially dangerous because they can increase water retention, which is potentially fatal to dogs prone to heart disease.

Peanuts - Yes. Unlike almonds, peanuts are safe for dogs to eat. They're packed with good fats and proteins that will benefit your dog. Just be sure to give peanuts in moderation, as you don't want your dog taking in too much fat, which can lead to pancreas issues in canines. Also, avoid salted peanuts.

Macadamia nuts - No. These are some of the most poisonous foods for dogs. Macadamia nuts, part of the Protaceae family, can cause vomiting, increased body temperature, inability to walk, lethargy, and vomiting. Even worse, they can affect the nervous system. Never feed your pets macadamia nuts.

Cashews - Yes. Cashews are OK for dogs, but only a few at a time. They've got calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, and proteins, but while these nuts contain less fat than walnuts, almonds, or pecans, too many can lead to weight gain and other fat-related conditions. A few cashews here and there is a nice treat, but only if they're unsalted.