Southwest Oasis Labrador Rescue, a Hub of Hope for Labs in the Borderlands

Here in Tucson we have an abundance of incredible animal rescues run by so many caring people, and one thing anyone involved with animal rescue knows is that networking is absolutely crucial to getting the animals what they need, where and when they need it. These networks, like many-spoked wheels, need a central hub to keep them connected and spinning in harmony. Southwest Oasis Labrador Rescue (SOLR) is just that for shelters, groups, and individuals working to save Labs and Lab mixes throughout Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.

Three years ago, current SOLR president Susan Krase, along with a few friends, split off from another rescue in order to focus on a broader range of dogs, both geographically and breed-wise. They would work with predominantly Labrador retrievers, but would not be completely exclusive, and certainly would help any Lab mix in need. Through social media, their network quickly began to grow. Shelters so overcrowded that euthanasia of healthy dogs was inevitable, began to reach out. A small grassroots rescue in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico contacted SOLR and they began bringing dogs up from there. Concerned neighbors contacted them about abused or neglected dogs. Before they knew it, SOLR had rescued over 600 dogs and placed 566 of them in permanent homes.

Many people may remember Athena, a celebrity alum of SOLR. She had come from a farm in Mexico where her leg was caught in a bear trap and had to be amputated. Through SOLR’s online network, Athena was able to be transported to Tucson and into foster care with a SOLR board member and later adopted by a disabled veteran and his wife, making headlines as she joined them in their work with other disabled vets.

Athena may be the most famous SOLR success story to date, but she is certainly not the only one who defied the odds with the help of this group. Miraculous dogs currently under the care of SOLR fosters include Mateo, for one. A four-year-old yellow Lab from Hermosillo Mexico, Mateo was not being cared for by his owner. A concerned neighbor was able to snap a picture and send it to SOLR, who stepped in to help. Poor Mateo was down to only 20 pounds, extremely malnourished, and positive for tick fever, valley fever, and Transmissible Venereal Tumor (TBT) cancer. TBT is a sexually transmitted form of cancer that is very treatable, but also detrimental, as one would assume if left untreated. While this was a devastating diagnosis, as of this writing, Mateo is working toward recovery. He is boarded at an animal hospital undergoing treatment and has put on seven pounds.

In mid-March of 2022, another desperate case joined SOLR from Pinal County Animal Control (PCAC). This one was a seven-year-old Lab mix who came to be known as Army. He had been unable to move, even to lift his head, for a week. Initial efforts to diagnose Army’s condition resulted in nothing but more questions. Although he was covered in ticks, after their removal, tick-borne illness was not found to be responsible for the paralysis. Finally, Army was able to get in to see a neurologist in Phoenix where an MRI and Spinal Tap revealed the presence of a large blood clot in his neck, likely the result of blunt force trauma. He was quickly put on a regimen of medications and rehabilitation, the clot itself expected to dissolve on its own. In order to get him up and running again, foster parents Nicole and Steve Taylor provide around-the-clock love and care, he is visited by a physical therapist twice per week, and regularly enjoys hydrotherapy as well. After just two weeks of this, he was already able to lift his head, then roll over, and then sit up.

This level of care would be impossible without the gift of volunteers, and SOLR, like any other rescue, is always in need. Fosters, transportation, and services are just as few of the volunteer opportunities available.  Applications can be found at solraz.org/volunteer. You can also donate via the site, because much as in the case of volunteers, public funding is crucial to these rescues as well. SOLR also holds a variety of events and fundraisers throughout the year. A few upcoming ones include a meet and greet at the Hop Shop from 12-3 on May 7th and the Second Annual Walk For Sawyer on May 14th. At the June 10th Tucson Saguaros baseball game SOLR will receive $2 per ticket purchased through the fundraising link on the team’s website. They will also be holding meet and greets at the Speedway and Wilmot Bookmans from 11-3 on July 7th and August 20th. There are so many ways to get involved with this wonderful rescue, and to join a network that creates so much positive impact and will continue to help Labs and Lab mixes long into the future. Here’s to 600 more rescued and beyond, SOLR!



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