Randi Berger's Recycled Pets Rescue

Randi Berger

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The following are a sample of some of Randi Berger's published articles:
Diary of an Animal AddictDiary of an Animal Rescue Addict
Magnetic Miracles: Myth or MarvelMagnetic Miracles: Myth or Marvel
Woman's Life Work is Rescuing Abused & Problem Dogs Woman's Life Work is Rescuing Abused and Problem Dogs

Printed in The Valley Social December 1st-14th, 2005 edition and The Pet Press February 2005 edition
Diary of an Animal Rescue Addict
By Randi Berger

My name is Randi Berger, and I am a recovering animal rescue addict.  When my first dog, Skippy, a scruffy tan, terrier mix (who was my life’s companion since I was six) died in 1987, I never would have believed what my future held.  Nearly 20 years later, I am now able to admit the truth: I have had over 10,000 dogs share my life and heart since Skippy’s passing. How could such a travesty occur to a respectable, mildly intelligent girl from Encino?

After losing Skippy, my first visit back to the animal shelter (where I had carried Skippy out as a puppy) marked the beginning of my unshakable addiction. When I learned that over 75% of the faces staring at me through the cages at this animal shelter would be spending their last days there on the hard cement floors, I began the greatest mission of my life. It was then and there that I started my dog rescue agency, soon to be called, Recycled Pets. 

In the 1980’s, the term “animal rescuer,” was still novel.  I may have been the only Valley Girl spending my weekdays “shopping” at animal shelters.  My weekends were spent holding open house adoptions along Ventura Boulevard, where dogs needing homes were shown at different busy locations. At that time, this was an unknown concept but, within months, was so well received that crowds of people would be waiting for me and my rescued dogs. I was slowly entering into a new dimension, soon graced by a multitude of obsessive-compulsive animal lovers, who all held one thing in common: the inability to say “no” to God’s superior, 4-legged, unwanted ones.

The rest of my life has been filled with learning how to best care for the thousands of dogs who have crossed my path. Training in grooming, veterinary care, behavioral, obedience and movie work was a necessary component to efficiently rehabilitate the many unwanted, abused, and elderly dogs that I was unable to turn away. This part seemed easy. It was finding patience in dealing with humans that would be my greatest challenge throughout my rescue career. Positive affirmations became a daily ritual and were my saving grace over the years.

As a rescuer, I was often asked, “How did you support your habit?”  I was one of the lucky ones.  In addition to having excellent credit (which enabled me to carry significant balances on numerous credit cards), I was raised by an animal-loving mother, who had severe attachment issues.  Almost every dog that I tried to hide in my mom’s house would ultimately end up sleeping on or near her head.  My mom believed that they all needed her, so she ended up moving her law practice to her bedroom to ensure that none of the thousands of dogs that I brought to her house would ever be alone. 

In 2004, my life came full circle. My first foster dog, Snickers (who launched my rescue career in 1987) unexpectedly died on Labor Day 2004, the same week as the release of my book, My Recycled Pets: Diary of a Dog Addict. My book tells of my rescue years and some of the techniques I utilized in an attempt to maintain my own sanity. But, with Snickers’ passing, for which I was not prepared, in conjunction with the release of my book, came the end of my 17-year uncontrollable addiction.

Just as an alcoholic must stay away from the drink, the animal rescue addict must avoid entering animal shelters. Perhaps this “addiction” is hereditary, and maybe even the best of support groups could not cure genetically predisposed animal rescuers.

But how do you know if you have gone overboard and may need help?  Some good indications might be:

1. Do your pets have bigger beds (or take up more space in your bed) than you do?
2. Are the wardrobes of your pets more extensive than your own?
3. Do you no longer invite visitors over because you don’t want anyone to know the truth about how many animals you have?
4. Are you starting to graze on your pets’ food because you no longer shop for yourself?
5. Do you share more meaningful conversations with your pets than you do with humans?

If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, it may be time to honestly reevaluate your love of animals. Devoting one’s life to helping animals can be the most fulfilling journey on this planet.  But, as with anything, maintaining a balance is critical to ensure longevity and sanity.

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(This article was originally published as “The Natural View - Magnets for Health,” by Randi Berger, printed in “The Pet Press” November-December 2000 issue)
Magnetic Miracles: Myth or Marvel
By Randi Berger

As the founder of Recycled Pets in 1987, I have witnessed some tragic situations involving my rescued dogs. Heidi was a blind 14-year-old mini-dachshund who was attacked by a 90-lb shepherd-wolf mix. Her neck was ripped open, her esophagus torn, and her heart and lungs were displaced. The vet gave her a 5% chance of survival. I remembered hearing something about magnets bringing oxygen to the cells and cutting recovery time in half. After her surgery, I placed several half-dollar-sized magnets under her bandages, around her neck and chest, and put a magnetic pad in the crate where she would either live or die. Within two days, Heidi was eager and able to swallow food, and today, years later, she is a happy, healthy queen of the house.

In 1996, I was at the end of my rope. I was overworked and underpaid, spending 18-hour days running my dog rescue agency, Recycled Pets. My health had taken what seemed to be a permanent and declining turn for the worst—along with my attitude. My twelve-year addiction to bodybuilding was now being hindered by my unforgiving immune system. Conventional medicine had failed me. I was having horrid visions of myself in my 90s—poverty-stricken, sickly, and scooping poop for a living.

In my search for solutions, I stumbled across a booth at an alternative health expo that appeared to be another cure-all, fly-by-night scam... Something I abhorred. I saw a display of car seats, inner soles, pillows and mattresses, silver “bumpy balls,” and shiny “coins” that people had stuck to their heads. I had yet to see anything this absurd so I stood at distance, skeptically watching. People were flocking to get this “stuff”, and I soon discovered that this was the world of magnets. Had it not been for the silver bumpy balls that fixed my two-year, chronic shoulder injury in only fifteen minutes, I would have walked away and never looked back.  And had those same bumpy balls not saved the life of one of my rescue dogs the following week, my entrance into this world of magnets would not have occurred.

At only seven months old, Breezy’s life was nearly over. Having contracted distemper at nine weeks, she had severe nerve damage that was now spreading down her spine, causing her to twitch and fall. A small fortune had already been spent on her failing immune system. We thought we had no other option but to either watch her suffering progress or have her euthanized. It was only one week before that I had remembered hearing something about magnets and nerve damage. With nothing to lose, I began massaging Breezy several times a day with the “bumpy balls” and had her sleeping on a magnetic car seat. Within a week, her twitching subsided. Within a month, I placed Breezy in her permanent new home—as a healthy, active, normal dog. She has remained so ever since. I was a believer, as I’ve told Breezy’s story hundreds of times to other skeptics throughout North America.

A dog in the midst of a grand mal seizure was brought to me by her frantic dogsitter. As I spun the magnetic balls over her head, the dog came out of her seizure.

My terrier’s stomach cramps respond better to magnetic balls than to any prescription medication.

The last year of my Lhasa Apso Bam-Bam’s life, he began having grand mal seizures and lost the use of his back legs. I hadn’t had him many years, but his preference to not be touched by humans had made it fairly difficult for anyone to adopt him. And so I cherished his aloofness and strong will in maintaining his pride throughout his adjustment to his new humans when he came to me.

Although Bam Bam was grumpy if touched too much, I couldn’t watch his pride fail with his health. I wrapped his body from head to toe in magnets, all the while with him hoping that one of his attempted bites would actually connect. I had him sleeping on a magnetic (earth energy) and far-infrared (sun energy) pet pad. The two technologies, when combined, enhance each other. The medication he had been on didn’t seem to stop his seizures... but for some strange reason, the magnets did.

Magnetic Pads
Dogs crowding on magnetic pads.

In the few short years I was blessed with Bam Bam’s grumpiness, I realized his tail only began to wag after magnets were on his body. Within the week, he regained full use of his back legs and hopped around the house like a puppy until his departure.

By the end of 1996, my immune system was restored and my life-long sleeping disorder had vanished from using and sleeping on magnets. Today I have seen hundreds of dogs, especially older ones with multiple health problems, stop taking life-threatening medications after their parents began using these products on them.

BEWARE! Not all magnets are created equal. Cheap knock-offs are now flooding the market to try to cash in on the now-proven (Baylor University study and others) credibility of magnets. The company whose products I use is the largest research and development company in the world for these technologies. An international patent on their magnetic pattern assures the most effective results with no side effects. I have seen enough “miracles” with these products to believe that this technology will be known as the next “penicillin” and the future of all medicine in the new millennium.

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Printed in THE ANIMAL PRESS-April 1992
Woman's Life Work is Rescuing Abused and Problem Dogs
By Randi Berger

I am addicted to rescuing pound pooches, and this path has lead me into learning how to rehabilitate the severely abused and problem dogs. Every once in a while I believe we get a strong message from above, telling us we're either still on the right path, or to move on to something else. I had such a message handed to me on a very special day that will remain with me forever.

Last year, before Christmas, I went "pound hopping" looking for the right pair of eyes to grab my heart and ask me to save its life. The urge hit me to stop by Pet Adoption Fund in L.A. (where I rescued a dog in 1987). As I walked through one of their rooms filled with adorable, smallish dogs, my eyes connected with a very withdrawn, scraggly, Scotty-mix who looked as though he would have preferred to go unnoticed. I knew this was the one.

He sat in the back of his cage, never moving or making a sound, while the others pawed and barked for attention. His name was Clancy and he had been  severely abused before coming to Pet Adoption Fund where he had been living for the last 2 years. As petrified as Clancy was of human touch, he never snapped or showed any form of aggression. I instinctively knew this was an incredible dog who deserved  to one day associate humans with joy, not pain. I took him home and my four- legged family could sense that he needed them. With wagging tails they  welcomed him to our home of rehabilitation.

I thought I had experienced it all with regard to abused dogs, but Clancy showed me I was not finished learning. After being with him for over a month, it still took me over 45 minutes to catch him in my yard and he spent most of his time with a leash on or I could not catch him at all. He loved other dogs but hadn't improved in trusting humans. He still would jump away and stiffen up when I cornered him to pet him.

Just before Christmas, I was amazed to have found a home for Clancy.  He now had two sisters—one who also had been severely abused—and parents  who were very understanding of his special needs. Christmas passed and I returned to the shelter where I had found Clancy. This was when I discovered that he had a brother who also had  been equally abused and was destined to spend his life in a cage if someone  like me didn’t take him.

I picked out Clancy’s brother, Kelsey, from the hundreds of other dogs. He was Clancy’s clone only more overtly fearful. He pinned himself to the back of his cage and would sit up and beg to try to distance himself from me. The terror in his big eyes wrenched my heart, and I prayed I would forget that Kelsey’s only chance at life outside that cage was through me. Unfortunately, this was a busy time in my life, and I was in no position to take on a hard case like Kelsey. Nevertheless, I visited him over the months and promised him that I would bring him home before my birthday.

Finally, at the end of August, nearly 3 years since Kelsey came to the shelter, he was freed from living his life in a cage. Once again my four-legged family knew to treat him gently, but just 3 hours after being with us, a neighbor opened my gate and Kelsey was gone. My other dogs knew to stay home but Kelsey didn’t even know where home was.

I searched through the night, again when the sun rose, and put up flyers. Deep in my heart, however, I knew no one could ever catch Kelsey. I had already put I.D. tags on him but felt no one could ever get close enough to read them. I was heartbroken that Kelsey’s first taste of freedom had to end this tragically, but after a 2-hour search the following afternoon, the call came.

Three people saw Kelsey crossing busy streets and spent 45 minutes catching him. Kelsey was miraculously returned to me undamaged—at least physically—and I knew that this world had angels in it to watch over those in need.

This time I padlocked all my gates and felt both Kelsey and I were given a second chance.

Less than one week later, I left to bathe two of my dogs and decided, for the first time, to let Kelsey have free run of the house with the others as he was sleeping peacefully in my bed.

I returned to a disaster. My kitchen window at the front of my house had been opened, a hose had been turned on, flooding the front of my house,, and several of my dogs were missing. (We believe it was the same malicious neighbor who opened our gate.) The dogs who were home were drenched in water, and one of my formally abused dogs who was too terrified to leave the house, was pressed  against the front door to come in…dripping with water.

My phone rang and a young boy said he had my dog but I hadn’t yet figured out who was missing. I went down my street to find out it was one of my rescue dogs, Chester, who was available for adoption. It turned out this family’s dog had died 6 months earlier and they were waiting for “the right one” to come into their lives—who ended up being Chester. A joyous conclusion to a disastrous event.

I returned home to find Kelsey missing, and felt, for the first time, I was no longer meant to be rescuing dogs. I felt there was no way that Kelsey would be found a second time.

As painful as it was, I had to face the reality of Kelsey living out his life on the streets or being hit by a car. Still I spent sleepless nights searching and praying to anyone watching over us. I put up more flyers, walked the streets talking to people, placed ads, and cried for this little dog whose fate on earth was nothing but pain and suffering. Kelsey was now missing for 4 days.

It was Monday, September the 9th, and a friend joined me to search the animal shelters one more time. Afterward we searched the streets and finally returned home at 3p.m. with little hope left. I picked up my phone messages which immediately brought tears to my eyes.

Three messages had been left from people who had seen Kelsey running on the freeway against traffic, and a message from a lady who had Kelsey on her patio. It took a group of people from an apartment complex overlooking the freeway to catch him, but once again a miracle had occurred. Kelsey was alive and undamaged.

He was covered from head to tail with burrs and foxtails and had to be sedated so we could remove them all, but is was well worth it. It was September the 9th… my birthday, and thanks to Kelsey, the most sacred birthday of my life. I felt once again I was shown that what I am doing is exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life.

Today, while I am writing this, Kelsey is lying beside me in bed, along with the rest of my four-legged family. He is not up for adoption—we have become far too attached. You see, no matter what the past, there is hope for every dog. It just takes patience, love and, most of all, the belief in miracles.

It takes a special kind of person, willing to reach out to the unadoptables, rehabilitate them and then find them good homes. The Animal Press commends Randi Berger for the “work” she does. For her caring and unselfish devotion, she is being nominated for our People Helping Animals Award, to be decided by reader vote in July.

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