PGA National residents Lisa and Bob Hodgson devote much of their retirement time to finding good homes for displaced golden retrievers.
The Hodgsons’ love affair with dogs began about 13 years ago when they found a stray collie roaming around a Palm Beach Gardens restaurant. They eventually found the collie’s owner and returned it, but the experience left them with a desire to adopt a dog.
At the time, they couldn’t find a collie rescue organization in South Florida. Instead, they found Golden Rescue South Florida and adopted a golden retriever — a smart, eager-to-please breed that is among the most popular in the country, according to the American Kennel Club.
The Hodgsons have since owned about a dozen adopted golden retrievers, eight of which they have lost to cancer. They currently have four goldens — Luke, Kelsey, Titan and Toby — living with them at their villa in PGA National.
While adopting their dogs, the Hodgsons started working as volunteers with Plantation-based Golden Rescue South Florida. They have since learned through personal experience why adopting a dog from a rescue organization is a good idea.
Golden Rescue South Florida gives the dogs veterinary care before they’re put up for adoption, Lisa Hodgson said. Prospective owners’ homes are screened by volunteers such as the Hodgsons before dogs are placed with new owners.
“If we wouldn’t place our own dog there, the home is rejected,” Lisa Hodgson said. “Never, ever do we place a young dog in a place where he will be alone all day.”
Lisa Hodgson urges pet owners to give dogs they can’t keep to rescue organizations instead of simply listing them for adoption online, where bad owners might find them.
She says it gives her joy when she finds a great match between golden retriever and new owner, such as the “couch potato” dog she placed recently with a retired lady. But not all dog-rescue stories have happy endings.
The rescue organization recently took in a severely abused golden retriever named Heidi from Miami-Dade County. Heidi had bite wounds on 70 percent of her body, apparently because she had been used as “bait” in a dog-fighting ring.
Heidi died last week after undergoing three weeks of treatment at Central Broward Animal Hospital and generating a big following on Facebook.
Golden Rescue South Florida
What it does: The nonprofit organization takes displaced golden retrievers, gives them veterinary treatment and places them in new homes after screening the prospective owners.
Placements: The Plantation-based organization places about 160 golden retrievers in new homes annually.
How to help: The organization takes tax-deductible donations to cover the cost of the dogs’ veterinary bills. The organization uses foster homes to keep golden retrievers until they are placed with new owners.
Reunion: Owners of golden retrievers adopted through Golden Rescue South Florida will hold a reunion meeting with their dogs Jan. 18 at Lilac Park in Palm Beach Gardens.
Information: Call 561-776-0857 or go to www.goldenrescuesouthflorida.com.