GREERS FERRY — Momma is an 8-year-old bullmastiff who lives in Romance, where she is a foster dog with Donna and Bill Hodge while awaiting hip surgery before she is eligible for adoption.
Donna Hodge, the Arkansas state coordinator for American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Services, said Momma is just one example of why she does what she does.
Momma’s previous owners gave her up after eight years, and she is now getting the care she needs and will hopefully be adopted by a loving new owner.
Donna is the state coordinator for the national organization, but Bill takes on a sizable responsibility with the dogs as well. He helps with transportation, and at one point, when foster homes were limited and there were several dogs at the Hodges’ home, Bill slept in the motor home with some of the dogs for several nights.
Some dogs are not so lucky and are not rescued in time to be saved.
Donna said the organization recently got word of a dog in Newport who was pregnant and needed to be rescued. When Donna went out to check on her, the dog, Sadie, looked like she was about to give birth.
Unfortunately, the dog was not pregnant at all, but was heartworm positive. Her condition was severe, and fluid had built up in her abdomen to the point where it looked like she was carrying babies.
At that point, the decision had to be made to put Sadie down as she was too far infected with the parasite.
“That’s the hardest part,” Donna said, “but she knew love. We ended her suffering.
We sent her over the rainbow bridge, as we like to say.”
On June 21, American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Services will conduct its inaugural bass-tournament benefit on Greers Ferry Lake to help offset the cost of medical bills associated with rescuing bullmastiffs.
“Every bit of funding goes directly to the association,” Donna said. “Some of the bills get very expensive, especially with the larger dogs.”
Before being offered for adoption, the dogs are checked for heartworms, spayed or neutered, and treated for other injuries or ailments. One rescued dog, for example, had cigarette burns across his head from the previous owner. Another animal had been mauled by other dogs.
Additionally, American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Services conducts an evaluation with a behaviorist to make sure the dogs being rescued and offered for adoption are safe and nonaggressive.
“We cannot take a human-aggressive dog or one with a biting record,” Donna said. “All dogs have teeth, so we can’t make a guarantee, but we take safety seriously.”
The bass tournament will have a guaranteed cash prize for the top four spots, including a $500 top prize. Scoring will be determined by pounds and ounces; and largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass will be accepted. Five fish per boat will be accepted — all of which must be at least 15 inches — and no live bait will be permitted.
The entry fee for the tournament is $100 per boat, which can be paid by cash or money order the morning of the tournament.
For more information about the tournament or about volunteering, fostering or adopting a bullmastiff, call Donna Hodge at (501) 556-5433.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.