Grant helps save senior dog’s eyesight

Cheesecaek the dog smiling with tongue out
A Lab mix named Cheesecake had a disease that threatened her eyesight, but a Rachael Ray Save Them All Grant helped her to see again.
By Barbara Soares

Oceanside is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Southern California, with its majestic palm trees and orange sunsets. But Cheesecake was at risk of never being able to see it again. The 9-year-old adoptable Labrador mix had entropion — an inward turning of the eyelid that can cause severe eye irritation and damage — in both eyes.

It would be a challenge for staff at the shelter to find a home for Cheesecake due to her eye condition, large size, and age. Luckily, members of the animal welfare community joined forces to give this deserving pup a second chance. That’s one of the most important ways that shelters across the country have reached no-kill — by working together to save pets who need extra care or time.

Helping dogs with medical issues

California Labradors, Retrievers, and More (Labs and More for short) has been saving the lives of homeless dogs in the Oceanside and San Diego areas since 2011. A volunteer-run organization with a robust network of more than 500 passionate helpers, it prioritizes dogs facing treatable medical challenges.

Ariana Hill, Best Friends Animal Society strategist for the Pacific region, summarizes how Labs and More’s work aligns with Best Friends’ goal to achieve no-kill nationwide in 2025.

[Grant helps save more dogs in Chicago shelters]

“They specialize in at-risk dogs … specifically medical, senior, and large breed dogs who are frequently put on euthanasia lists at shelters and normally have a negative outcome,” Ariana says.

Since receiving a Rachael Ray Save Them All Grant from Best Friends, Labs and More has been able to help even more dogs. In collaboration with their veterinarian partners, they ensure the dogs they take in receive the treatment they need and have a peaceful place to recover. Once healthy, the dogs are then matched with a loving family.

Challenges in the Pacific region

Despite their success stories of heartwarming recoveries and pets going to new homes, Labs and More’s work is not without its challenges. Diane Kath, founder and executive vice president, explains that the region — much like the rest of the country — is experiencing an increase in the number of pets going into shelters. Financial strain and housing restrictions on pets are just some of the reasons forcing people to give up their pets.

For Ariana, the hope is that the grant creates pathways for more collaborations between rescue groups and shelters in the area. “The animal sheltering community is full of so many amazing networking opportunities for shelters and organizations to work together to save more lives,” Ariana says.

Thanks to collaboration, Cheesecake finally got the surgery she needed. After it was done came the good news: She was expected to make a full recovery. Her eyesight was saved.

New outlooks for deserving dogs

Cheesecake was far from the only dog Labs and More saved thanks to the Rachael Ray Save Them All Grant. When they came upon Francis, a beautiful stray black dog who had trouble walking, they quickly stepped in. Francis was diagnosed with a joint issue, and they were able to schedule his surgery right away. Once that was done, Francis rehabilitated for two months with Labs and More before being adopted into a loving home. Francis’ family remarks that all of them enjoy the same hobbies: trail walks, snuggling on the couch, and watching TV together.

[Dog’s soul outshines her physical challenges]

As for Cheesecake, weeks after her surgery, she regained her strength and her zest for life. And then came the best part of all: She was going home because she got adopted.

She is now enjoying palm trees and orange sunsets with her new family. After struggling for so long, Cheesecake can finally relax knowing she has everything she needs: her health, a loving home, and a new look at life — literally.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

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You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

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