Great River Rescue, Bemidji, Minnesota

We were thrilled when Great River Rescue in Bemidji, Minnesota accepted our visit.  Minnesota is our #21 rescue visit on our “48 states, 48 rescues in one year” tour.  We had a cold weather welcome in Minnesota, but the folks at Great River Rescue warmly welcomed us into their operation.


Since 1977,  Great River Rescue has helped over 10,000 animals with a second chance at life. Their vision statement explained on their website says it all. They are a “no kill” shelter that operates mostly from community contributions.


Great River Rescue is dedicated to operating an animal shelter for the purpose of finding a quality forever home for each animal we serve, encouraging a community of responsible companion animal guardians, eliminating the community’s need to euthanize dogs and cats as a means of population control, and promoting a society where companion animals become more valued.”

This is Boo Boo available for adoption at Great River Rescue


It is so wonderful to see how people can come together in so many ways to help animals in need where they live.  Great River Rescue has been serving this community for almost 40 years!  Their name change in 2015 showed the public exactly what their aim was and was able to unite the community in their efforts.


Like other shelters and rescues we have visited on our Adventure Of A Lifetime, sometimes, change is necessary to bring about positive results.  And the results under Great River Rescue’s executive director, Brandon Mustful are apparent.


Great River Rescue serves Northern Minnesota without any geographic restrictions for their services.  They want people to be able to count on them to make life better for the animals in their care.  How do they do this? We were able to find out by playing the latest game of Stop Hounding Me and were joined by Ox, a sweet, big guy and a success story of Great River Rescue, Shiloh.


One of the things that they are most proud of at Great River Rescue is their Mod Squad. We were privileged to be able to speak with Ethan Larson who is the Mod Squad Coordinator. The Mod Squad is a volunteer-based behavior-modification and training program for their shelter dogs.


The Mod Squad was started in June 2014, with four volunteers & four dogs. As of  now, Great River Rescue has the only Mod Squad program in Minnesota and is one of at least seven squad programs nationwide.


Meeting so many rescues and shelter dogs that may have “issues” from past experiences or being stressed in a shelter environment, we were definitely interested in this unique program. Ethan explained that once a dog enters the shelter, one of their squad volunteers does an behavioral assessment on the dog to find out what behavior issues they might have (ie. food guarding, barking, biting, etc.).  Once in the dog is in the program, they tailor the training plan based on the issues they have. There is no time limit to be in the program. Some are in a for a few days to several months  The program has all kinds of breeds, male and female, any age. Once the dog is adopted, then a new dog is chosen to take his/her place.


We wondered how successful this program had been. Ethan told us that they have had  almost 50 squad adoptions since its inception including his own dog Shiloh, one of the original squad dogs. Shiloh now serves as an ambassador and to help promote the program. Once fearful, Shiloh is now a friendly boy! People LOVE following the success stories of these dogs often found on Great River Rescue’s Facebook page.


It’s programs like the Mod Squad and the people that run these rescues and programs like Brandon and Ethan that make our Adventure Of A Lifetime worthwhile.  Their efforts, love and work do not go unnoticed.  And it is our hope that other rescues and shelters can learn from each other.  Certainly, the Mod Squad is one such program.


As the shelter’s director Brandon explained, they are in great need of volunteers for events and work at the shelter.  If you are in the Minnesota area, and can donate your time, the animals would love that.  You can simply walk dogs at their outside trails on over 12 acres!  That doesn’t sound like work to us. Companies can even sponsor signs along the trail.  How neat is that?!


As well, donations are always needed and greatly appreciated.  We don’t often think of the funds necessary to run a shelter such as Great River Rescue.

Baxter, one of the great dogs available at Great River Rescue

We want to thank Brandon and Ethan at Great River Rescue for welcoming us.  It is always a privilege for us to see how our nation’s shelters and rescues operate on a daily basis, and meet the people there who give of themselves so unselfishly.


So how can you help Great River Rescue?

Follow then on Facebook

Find out how you can donate

Find out how you can volunteer

Click here to see their adoptable dogs

Click here to see their adoptable cats

Great River Rescue
1612 Carr Lake Rd SE
Bemidji, MN 56601

Thank you to our donors this week, 4-Legger, Your Dog’s Diner, SqueakNSnap and Bowser Beer!



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