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Donation to shelter spares rescued dogs

MYAKKA CITY — Thanks to a check from a Tampa life insurance company and a group of adopters, Keith Wandell says the dogs at his rescue operation won’t have to be euthanized.

Last weekend, Wandell said he would have to put down most of the dogs at BUDDIES Rescue in Myakka City because of financial trouble. He said he simply couldn’t handle the number of dogs he took in from people whose homes were foreclosed.

But Wandell is to receive a $5,500 check today from a Tampa life insurance company to cover his debts. A Pinellas County shelter could take many of his “adoptable, but hard-to-place” dogs. And he is closing his dog rescue temporarily while he gets back on his feet.

“During the foreclosure boom, we were taking in dogs left and right, including temperamental dogs other shelters wouldn’t accept,” Wandell said.

“We got overwhelmed.”

The check is from Barbados-based Sagicor Life Insurance Co., which has its U.S. headquarters in Tampa. The check should cover past due phone, electric and mortgage bills, said Anabel Thomas, the company’s vice president for marketing.

Thomas said the company will meet with Wandell to discuss possible future support.

“We understood he was trying to do a good deed,” she said.

The rescue operation takes in “problem” dogs and trains them so they can be adopted. At its height, the rescue had nearly 80 dogs, many of them Rottweilers. He’s down to about 40 now.

The Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor is considering taking about a dozen dogs, said executive director Rick Chaboudy.

Wandell said he has found people to adopt another 15 or so, and he’ll keep rehabilitating another dozen that are simply too hard to place.

But he’s stopped accepting new dogs, at least for now.

Wandell said he won’t accept new dogs until at least next year. He hopes to do an “extreme makeover” of his property, including new kennels. When he starts up again, he said he’d like to care for about 25 dogs, unless new donations and volunteers allow him to accept more.

“We want to downsize to a manageable number of dogs,” he said. “We have limited space. We have limited resources.”

Many in Manatee County’s dog rescue community were concerned when Wandell said he might have to euthanize his dogs if he didn’t receive enough donations.

Denise Deisler, executive director of the Humane Society of Manatee County, said her organization likely couldn’t take most of Wandell’s dogs because they are too aggressive.

“We were cautiously watching because we’re concerned about the dogs,” she said. “Fortunately, it appears it’s a decision we don’t have to make.”