YORKVILLE — “This is one thing I can do for the world to make it better.”
Linda Mackos said she wants local residents to know that while much attention has been given lately to abuse cases at area animal rescues, there are still “legitimate” rescues out there deserving of support — whether it be through donations or giving your time and heart.
Mackos became a canine mom shortly after her husband’s passing. She said the love and companionship she received from her pet helped get her through the grieving process. Today she has six canines living with her at her Douglas Avenue home, along with three birds who are also rescues. Most are animals she has volunteered to foster in their senior years.
“The dogs give me so much joy every minute, especially when they’re feeling good,” she said. “Dogs are part of my being happy.”
Mackos made the decision five years ago to begin fostering mainly senior animals — those who may be frail and sickly, that were either given up because their owners had died or they no longer wanted, or were able, to care for them. Others have been rescued from puppy mills and there’s one — Vern — who’s blind and had been living on the streets of Syracuse when he was found. Every day these animals are fed, groomed, some have their teeth brushed, they get their medications, and most important, they are given the tender loving care they need and deserve toward the end of their lives.
“That’s why people don’t want these animals, but they’re no different than people — things start to go as we get older,” the foster parent said. “Many of the rescued dogs lately are seniors who come with a myriad of issues related to abuse, neglect and just plain old age.”
Mackos has three seniors from Kindred Spirits Greyhound Adoption, Inc. (KSGA) that she is currently fostering. One was a recent hoarding situation in Utica, and two were a bonded pair that were left when their owner died.
“All are doing great,” she said. “They are old, but they are enjoying good lives now and bring me tremendous joy every day.”
That is why Mackos has made it part of her mission to be sure that area residents are aware of the rescues out there that are helping and caring for animals, rather than abusing them. She cited cases like those in the Town of Danube where multiple animals were seized from a man’s property in August, and in Waterville, where 60 dogs, three cats and a bird were rescued from an animal shelter in September.
“Much needed attention was given to the incident involving Kim Strong and the 114 dogs in the Broad Street warehouse in Utica, the abuse in Danube, and now Waterville. Nearly every day another report comes out about animal abuse,” Mackos said. “But as a result of these horrible scenarios that were covered in the media, good area rescues are feeling the effect of what they have done. We don’t hear about the good rescues, the ones that are saving animals, the ones that give their lives to saving them. Monetary and supply donations are down. Fewer people are fostering and adopting. Fostering and adopting are the ways animals are saved.”
Mackos wants to remind people that good rescues don’t hoard animals — they work to place them in safe, loving environments. And fostering does exactly that, she said.
Rescues “get fosters secured ahead of time for any animal to be saved, and do medical checkups before placing them in a foster home,” she said. “They rescue locally, across the country and even overseas.”
And fosters are not “willy-nilly allowed” to foster, Mackos added.
“They must complete applications, be interviewed, have references/recommendations, and home inspections,” she said. “Allowing someone to foster is taken very seriously. The adoption process is just as thorough, if not more. They even have networks set up in every state to do transfer legs to get them saved.”
Mackos gave an example of one dog that needed rescuing from Long Island. There was an ad posted on Facebook and immediately, area dog lovers were volunteering to go pick up the canine and bring it to KSGA in Clinton.
“The pup was delivered on Sunday to the rescue, and had not been seen by a vet in nearly the 13 years she was alive,” Mackos said. “She was full of bladder stones, one nearly as big as a hockey puck. But two days later she was doing great, was outside running around and being spunky.”
It takes much time, energy, money and compassion to rescue animals, and Mackos commended KSGA and Cindy Siddon, also of Clinton Pet Vet, for contributing their full efforts into rescuing animals and finding them good, loving homes.
“They are caring, compassionate, and the most amazing group of people I could ever engage with to help animals,” she said. “They are committed to saving them.”
Siddon said fosters also help rescues learn the personalities and behaviors of the animals they rescue, which helps them to better place the animal with a family or individual that’s right for them. Working at CPV, Siddon said she had the opportunity to also develop a special working relationship where rescued animals can receive the proper medical care.
Fosters are asked to provide a home and food for the rescued dogs, but they will also provide assistance with food for those who need it.
KSGA and CPV, “We provide the medical care and anything else they need,” Siddon said. “We can take the sick, injured, older dogs no one else wants and get them the care they need.”
Fosters for older dogs may care for the animals until they’re healthy enough for adoption, or they may provide hospice care to those who are at the end of their lives, Siddon said.
“I don’t think there’s any other rescue around with a program like that,” she said.
Fosters are always needed, and anyone interested in becoming one, or learning more information, may email Siddon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers will be asked to fill out a foster application that will help the rescue place animals in the right home.
Also, KSGA is hosting a Charity Wedding fund-raiser — the marriage of two rescued Pugs — at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 at Body by Design Group Fitness Studio at the Fitness Mill plaza in New York Mills. Festivities will include a Blessing of the Animals, refreshments, cake and even Frosty Paws treats for canine attendees. A cover charge of $10 will go to support the canine rescue.