AHS partners with Leech Lake Legacy to help thousands of animals in need

Wesley, Leech Lake Legacy Dog

Last year, Animal Humane Society took in nearly 9,000 animals from other shelters and rescue agencies across the country for care and placement. Some of those rescue agencies are located right here in Minnesota, and one of them ― Leech Lake Legacy (LLL) ― is our largest source of animals other than community surrenders. Since LLL was founded in 2011, they’ve transported more than 7,680 cats and dogs to AHS!

"The partnership we have with Leech Lake Legacy is crucial to making a difference for the animals and people in Minnesota. It's incredible the journey these animals go through, and we couldn't do it without working together. It's been an absolute pleasure to work with Jenny over the years, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”

― Brie Nodgaard, Animal Transfer Coordinator at AHS

How Leech Lake Legacy came to be

LLL was founded by Jenny Fitzer in April 2011. Karen Good of Red Lake Rosie’s, an animal rescue on the Red Lake Reservation, reached out to her for help saving animals on nearby Leech Lake Reservation. Dogs and cats picked up by the reservation's animal control officers are housed at the animal impound in Cass Lake. The impound only has room for eight dogs, so historically, when a ninth dog arrived, the dog that had been there the longest was euthanized. But a new animal control officer had recently been hired, and he was unwilling to euthanize dogs just to make space. In April 2011, he was housing 14 dogs.

Jenny agreed to assist and LLL was born. When she reached out to us for support, the former Director of Animal Services at AHS agreed to take in dogs, creating space for other animals in northern Minnesota seeking refuge. On that first transport, eight dogs were brought to AHS and six went to other rescues. In total, LLL has transported more than 10,800 dogs and cats to safety, and 71% have come to AHS!

If it weren't for volunteers, transport wouldn't be possible

Each week, Jenny coordinates the transport of dogs and cats from Leech Lake Reservation, Red Lake Reservation, White Earth Reservation, Mille Lacs Reservation, four northern Minnesota impounds, and community surrenders. Volunteers in northern Minnesota pick up all the animals slated for transport and meet Jenny in Motley, MN (halfway to the Twin Cities). Jenny brings donated animal supplies for the volunteers to take back to their communities, and then transports the animals the rest of the way to the Twin Cities. AHS takes in at least 15 animals each week from these transports.

“The number of animals we are able to send to AHS each week, month, year is amazing,” says Jenny. “The excellent, wonderful, kind staff at AHS have helped us help so many animals. From taking in animals with almost any medical condition, providing vaccines for our wellness clinics, and finding homes for more than 70% of the animals Leech Lake Legacy transports, AHS has and continues to be one of our critical partners.” 

With no veterinary clinic nearby, Leech Lake Legacy fills the gap

Jenny, Mary, Tom, Leech Lake Legacy

From left: Jenny Fitzer, founder of Leech Lake Legacy, and LLL volunteers Mary Genell and Tom O'Sullivan

In addition to transporting animals, LLL provides low-cost or free spay/neuter surgery and wellness events for Leech Lake Reservation and surrounding communities. With no veterinarians on the reservation and a large stray animal population, the services LLL provides are critical. (An estimated 15,000 dogs live on the reservation.) LLL also offers monthly surrender events to take in animals that people are no longer able to care for.

“For anyone who knows Jenny, they know she has a heart of gold and works tirelessly to help the animals on the reservation. Her job is no easy feat, and she does it with so much passion!” says Brie Nodgaard, Animal Transfer Coordinator at AHS. “The partnership we have with Leech Lake Legacy is crucial to making a difference for the animals and people in Minnesota. It's incredible the journey these animals go through, and we couldn't do it without working together. It's been an absolute pleasure to work with Jenny over the years, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”

Many of the animals being transported to AHS from northern Minnesota are living outdoors in all kinds of weather, scavenging for food and shelter, and may be dealing with life-threatening health conditions. The organizations rescuing these animals lack the space, resources, and support they need to help all the animals that come into their care. AHS has space to take in these animals, is able to provide medical care, and can readily connect animals with potential adopters. Partnering with rescue organizations like LLL is just one way we can all work together to make a more humane world for animals.

Interested in becoming a transport partner with AHS? Learn more.

Check out this recent video about Red Lake Rosie’s

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At Animal Humane Society, we’ve seen first-hand the transformative effects transport programs have on both source and destination shelters — and the unconditional love and joy transport animals bring to their new loving families. Read more about the power of transport programs here.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

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