GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Since 2006, there has been very "Good" work going on in northwest Minnesota. Retired teacher Karen Good has saved thousands of homeless animals.
"You look at all the animals that we have helped through the years, you can say that, it was so worth it. And we fixed 2600 animals, So, that is going to make an impact. If we can sustain it, but that is something that has to be sustained."
Karen Good gave up the teaching job that she enjoyed in 2010 to devote herself full time to the care of animals around her town of Trail, Minn. near the Red Lake Reservation. She admits her native American culture had a gap where the care of some domestic animals was concerned.
"We have never actually had a program that deals with animal rights or animal issues on the reservation. So, it was a new concept."
She began taking in "strays" in 2004, but finally incorporated her "Red Lake Rosie's Rescue" Clinic in 2006. The clinic sits on the property of Karen's former home. She needed a place to keep the wounded animals, so she moved out to make room. She said she knew there had to be something done in Red Lake for the four-footed among us.
"You knew that you needed to do something, but you didn't know if you really wanted to because you knew, you kind of felt that it was going to be a life-long thing because it would never end, but it has been rewarding."
Good was nominated for the Eleven Who Care award by Nancy O'Sullivan of Bemidji. "Karen's story is all about how she honors animals, how she respects animals and she finds goodness in every animal that she helps. How can that not be an inspiration? She is just an amazing woman. She is stuck out here in a very desolate, cold, harsh area and the world needs to know what she does."
If her clinic location is "desolate" it is also useful to her work, according to Good. "The nice thing about being out here is that you can go 20 miles east and there is not a human being. There are no electric lines, nothing. It is just all wilderness. So, it is really ideal. These dogs can run around a little bit and they do not have to worry about traffic or those kinds of things."
Good sees her work as limiting the number of animals running free In her community. "There are three solutions: active, aggressive neuter/spay (programs), shelter and rescue for the homeless and then, education." Good practices all three. All of her animals, often with owners' permission, are spayed or neutered.
On a below zero winter morning, Good remarked that she cannot save all of the animals brought to her. "Like yesterday, when we got Lilly, the Pit bull. She died last night, not because we did not try. We took her to the vet (26 miles away). We did the best we could. We got her comfortable in here in pain relief and she died. So, that was heart-breaking, but then you look at all of the others in the meantime that you can help. So, you have to balance that out."
So, Karen Good, retired teacher, spends her days in remote Trail, breaking up the ice in frozen water buckets by smashing the pails into the frozen, snow covered Earth, then toting freshly filled pails like a milk maid, decades younger, but no less determined.
"This is Bonnie Jane," she explained. "She came from Panama. She was semi-feral. She had a litter of nine puppies in mid-January outdoors and six of them died. Three of them were brought here with her. She's coming up to me now (she did). When she first came, she would hide in the woods."
Because of Karen Good, Bonnie Jane and hundreds of other free-roaming dogs have a woods to hide in, if they so choose.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)