Ellsworth couple rescues Labs and finds them homes

The organization also helps abused and abandoned dogs.



ELLSWORTH — Like many people, Carla Johnson adopted a dog because of the compatibility, affection and companionship most provide.

But unlike many folks, she drove a considerable distance to take home a pet she knew she wanted before meeting it.

“It was all in his picture. I saw the picture and said, ‘That’s my boy,’” noted Johnson, who drove in July 2006 from her home in Leesburg, Va., to the North Jackson home of the foster family taking care of the chocolate Labrador retriever she named Bruno.

Johnson’s and Bruno’s paths likely would never have crossed had it not been for www.petfinder.com, one of the oldest and largest databases of adoptable animals on the Internet. More than 200,000 homeless pets are listed, and more than 11,000 adoption groups and animal welfare leagues in the U.S., Canada and other countries post their pets on the Web site.

One such group, which also took care of Bruno before his adoption, is Northeast Ohio Labrador Retriever Rescue, run from the Ellsworth home of Carla and Dominic Carella.

Carella, who rescues and takes in mainly Labrador retrievers from all over Ohio and parts of West Virginia, said her organization neuters all dogs before putting them up for adoption. The animals also are given shots for rabies and distemper and are taught to be housebroken beforehand, she noted.

Traveling from her Cleveland home to adopt a lab mix she named Olive Oyl was Charlotte Heppner, who was looking for a pet around a year old that would be compatible with her 14-year-old dog. Carella sent Heppner a picture of the dog and she was sold, she said.

“It had this look like, ‘I want to be with you,’” Heppner said.

Heppner said her pet is training to be a therapy dog and learning to pull a wheelchair, which she uses. Olive Oyl will eventually visit hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities, she added.

Paul Finch of Warren learned that Northeast Ohio Lab Rescue had a 12-week-old yellow Lab available, which was one of two dogs he adopted through the Carellas’ organization.

Finch, an account executive with Gem-Young Insurance & Financial Services of Boardman, said he appreciated how the lab rescue group took care of its pets.

Carella said she also takes in and offers rehabilitation to animals that have been abused or abandoned.

Requirements for those wanting to adopt include having a relationship with a veterinarian and keeping up with annual vaccinations, she said. It’s also important that the person’s daily habits fit with those of a Labrador retriever, she noted.

“Be sure you know the personality of a Labrador,” she advised. “They’re people oriented, so if you’re out of town a lot, you’re probably not a good candidate. They like an active, outdoor lifestyle.”

People who wish to adopt should avoid looking for a pet solely because it physically resembles one they lost, cautioned Dominic Carella, who also owns D.C. Press, a printing company. Such a dog might have a different personality than the one that died, resulting in disappointment, he pointed out.

Johnson, Heppner and Finch said their pets have become adapted well to their new homes and are loving and affectionate.

“He’s like a puppy trapped in a big boy body,” Johnson.

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