Blackwell Animal Rescue celebrates furry friends

Vicki Blackwell with Blackwell Animal Rescue, Betty Sumler and LeAnn Gray were among the many participants who took part in the Blackwell Animal Rescue 5K, 10K on Saturday at Latimer Lakes Park in Horn Lake.

Robert Long|DTT

Two-footed and four-footed partners took part in Blackwell Animal Rescue Center's BARC 5K, 10K this past Saturday at Latimer Lakes Park, and for each pet owner it was a chance for both canine and human to get in shape.

Martha Icenburger of Olive Branch was among the many entrants in the annual BARC fund raiser.

"I just love BARC," said Icenburger, who brought along her canine companion, Daisy Mae, a Border Collie, who also happens to be a rescue dog.

Icenburger said she feels blessed to live in DeSoto County where there is such a loving, caring environment for abandoned animals and those in need of rescue.

Icenburger was made aware of the fact that rescue groups in Hernando and elsewhere are also stepping up efforts to not only save animals from being euthanized but provide safe places for them to get exercise, like the new Hernando Dog Park. The Olive Branch Dog Park at Olive Branch City Park opened to the public last year.

"I think it's wonderful there are so many rescue groups starting up," Icenburger said.

BARC's founder, Vicki Blackwell, is a longtime realtor who began to see a troubling pattern.

"Vicki kept finding abandoned animals left on properties," said Charles Reinhorn, an animal rights activist and BARC volunteer. "She (Blackwell) would pay all their vet bills and find them homes. I soon learned there was a network. There had been a dog running through a neighborhood. It was a Chow. A lady drove up all the way from Texas to give this dog a home. "

Reinhorn said the lives of humans can be completely transformed by taking in a rescued animal.

"There is a lot of value in taking in a dog," Reinhorn told members of the Rotary Club of Hernando recently. "When you send a particular dog to a particular family, it can change the lives of that family. We found a large poodle laying in a garage with its coat covered in fleas and blood. It took two hours to shave that dog. He was adopted by a Samoan family. They love that dog and he loves them. Another family, a Japanese family, adopted a dog that was present for a boy who had a brain tumor. That dog meant so much to him," Reinhorn said, becoming emotional.

"What happens is that we can take advantage of the shortage of dogs up north due to the enforcement of spay and neuter laws. We drive dogs north twice a month. We have 70 volunteers who help us."

Last year, BARC joined with Wings of Rescue which flies out hundreds of unwanted dogs from the Mid-South to places north and around the globe.

"We've flown 150 dogs to the Pacific Northwest — that's about 50 dogs from the DeSoto Animal Shelter," Reinhorn said. "That's about 450 animals we've taken out of the area."

The organization Greater Good paid for all flights taking hundreds of dogs left abandoned by hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

"We really feel like this is making a difference," Reinhorn said.

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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