Friday, November 20, 2009


Every time I take Cali out with me I get questions about where I got her from so I thought I'd do a reference blog for anyone looking to adopt a labrador in Los Angeles. I am also including a few other general references to good general rescue groups in L.A.

The biggest misconception people seem to have about rescue groups (and even shelters) is that they can't get a puppy or a purebred there. Labs of all colors and ages are available at rescues and shelters.

After my beloved Lucy The Boxador died of lymphoma in late June, I searched many places looking for another dog:; craigslist;; in Canoga Park;; and more.

The three main places I found that specialized in labs were: Labs And Buddies; Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue; and

Here's a breakdown of each group.

1). Labs And Buddies is where I found my last dog, my beloved Lucy The Boxador. is run by the blood, sweat, and tears of Laura Portillo and a small group of volunteers.

This is a blurb from their website:

"Laura Portillo is the founder of 'Labs and Buddies Rescue'...Although her first love is the Lab, she loves all breeds and will rescue any breed in need, space and finances permitting. She specializes in black dogs, because unfortunately they're always the last ones to be picked by adopters at shelters, and too often they're not picked at all..."

It breaks my heart to see some dogs available on their website that have been around since I adopted Lucy from them in December 2007. Labs and Buddies have a wonderful heart but unfortunately I don't think they have the time or resources to get every dog shown (some live in kennels). I know with Lucy, they rescued her from the Camarillo shelter in September of 2007, then she was put in a kennel for several months, and because she was not doing well in that environment, Laura personally took Lucy into her home a couple weeks before I adopted Lucy in December 2007. Lucy was lucky to get out of the kennel in a few months, it's horrible to think that some dogs are stuck there for years.

Most of the adoption events are held on weekends in Woodland Hills, so please check them out if you're looking for a dog. They have much more than labs too.

2). Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue is where I found Cali. I was very impressed by the work that SCLRR does in fostering the dogs and interviewing applicants before adopting a dog out. The woman who fostered Cali is one of the founders of the group and has personally fostered around 500 dogs herself! Getting Cali from SCLRR saved me a lot of time, money, and training. At four months old she was already crate and potty trained, knew sit and lie down commands, was spayed and had all her shots. As an incentive to put your dog through obedience training, SCLRR refunds $50 of the training cost (you can go to any training place you choose) for basic obedience. Dogs at SCLRR aren't kenneled, they are fostered in homes with dog savvy owners and generally exposed to other dogs, children, and sometimes cats. This way the foster parents are able to report about how well a particular dog does and if they should be placed with another pet, be a solo dog in the home, if they're too boisterous for kids, or if they have a prey drive with cats. Personally I found it really nice to have more information on a dog's personality, temperament, and even energy level before making an adoption decision. Also a really nice touch, when I adopted Cali I was given a folder that included all her medical papers and other information about raising puppies and labradors in particular. There was even a training dvd! And Cali's sweet foster Mom even gave me a couple of her toys (Cali still plays with her stuffed lambie - how she hasn't destroyed it with her puppy chewing is beyond me), a nylabone, and a few days worth of her kibble. And Cali's foster Mom has always been available for follow-up emails or calls. One extra perk from my experience with SCLRR is that I've become friends with the lady who did the home check. She has a black lab too and Cali and her dog Kylie have had a couple doggie playdates so far.

3). Independent Labrador Retriever Rescue of Socal ( The only personal experience I have with indilabrescue is a representative coming to my house to do a home check. But I can see from their website that they seem to be run in a similar way to SCLRR. All the dogs are fostered in homes and there's always a very informative description of each dog available for adoption.

What I think is really good about both SCLRR and indilabrescue is that the dogs don't seem to be stuck in foster care for long. They both appear to have a very good turnaround.

Another good rescue group I encountered is Karma Rescue. They were very organized, had lots of info about each dog they fostered (they also mainly do home fosters, but have some dogs kenneled), and spent a lot of time with me answering questions and trying to match me up with dogs. They don't specialize in labs, but when I was going to their adoption events I saw a few pit/lab mixes, and some older black labs. They specialize more in Pit Bulls so the pit mixes are probably what you will encounter there.

Also check out Hope For Paws, a group run by one of my flickr friends Eldad Hagar. Eldad has an amazing flickr photostream documenting all the dogs and other critters he has saved and adopted out. He and his wife Audrey put together an amazing hard cover book Our Lives Have Gone To The Dogs that's only $9.95 and filled with heartwarming tales and before and after photos of wonderful dogs that went from neglect to loving homes.

All the money made from sales of the book go directly towards saving more homeless animals and towards veterinary costs. I highly recommend buying this wonderfully inspiring book for yourself and if can afford it, get a few copies for gifts!

Along with the nearly 100 pages of photos and stories, there are some great dog related quotes inside. I love this one on page 24, "The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."

If you want a dog please consider adopting from a local rescue or shelter. I think probably has the most comprehensive list of rescue groups by zip code. I've never bought a dog from a store or a breeder in my entire life. The bond you will have with a dog that comes from a shelter or rescue is unbelievable. They are so happy to be in a loving home and they will thank you with their love and companionship forever.

- Lydia Marcus

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