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In this Feb. 18, 2014 photo, Tri-County Humane Society Customer Service Manager Anna Stratton wrangles three dogs recently flown to the shelter from India to St. Cloud, Minn. Heather Bruhn-Worm had a hard time returning to Minnesota when her heart was in India with the stray puppies that adopted her. The Minnesota woman brought the six dogs back to the United States in February to give them a better life. She arranged to have three of them flown to the Tri-County Humane Society. The rest were delivered to a Twin Cities shelter.

Dave Schwarz, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

In this Feb. 18, 2014 photo, Salman, left, and Moti peer from their kennel at the Tri-County Humane Society in St. Cloud, Minn.

Dave Schwarz, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

Minn. woman's efforts bring stray dogs from India

  • Article by: FRANK LEE
  • Associated Press
  • March 1, 2014 - 8:29 PM

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Heather Bruhn-Worm had a hard time returning to Minnesota when her heart was in India with the stray puppies that adopted her.

The Minnesota woman brought the six dogs back to the United States in February to give them a better life. She arranged to have three of them flown to the Tri-County Humane Society. The rest were delivered to a Twin Cities shelter.

"I volunteer for several animal rescue organizations, and so while I was there doing my IT job, there's just an overabundance of stray, street dogs in India," she said.

The information technologist for van Wagenen Financial Services has traveled to India twice for the Eden Prairie-based company.

"We just outsourced our data entry department to India back in June of last year, so I've been establishing our office over in India and training the workforce," she said.

She befriended a dog and her eight puppies living in a drainage culvert next to her office building during her first stay in India in September. She had them flown to the United States, too, for about $5,000.

"I began feeding this mother dog and her puppies, and then when it became time to leave, I just knew that I had gotten them used to people and had now gotten them used to food, and there was just no way that I could leave them there to possibly die," she told the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/1flIhwR ) of her first rescue.

Shelly, Moti and Salman recently played with each other in the warmly lit confines of the St. Cloud-based animal shelter, none the worse for the wear.

"I'm a lover of animals and an animal rescuer at heart," said Bruhn-Worm, a 40-year-old Minnetonka resident who plans to continue rescuing more animals from dire situations.

The 4-month-olds in St. Cloud include a male and two females. Salman recently had surgery at Boysen Animal Hospital in Waite Park because his testicles had not descended.

"Through a whole bunch of long hours and networking through all my animal rescue friends, we finally collected the funds and arranged for veterinary care and their flights," she said.

Bruhn-Worm has arranged the transportation and rescue of 21 dogs in all from India, including the orphaned and unrelated puppies at the Tri-County Humane Society.

"I was actually in a town that was smack dab in the center of the country where there was no readily accessible air transportation for live animals, so there was a bunch of taxi cabs that I actually had to hire for the pups," she said.

The medium-sized puppies are up for adoption for $300 each at the Tri-County Humane Society, but as of Feb. 21, Shelly and Salman already had deposits put on them by potential adopters.

"It was extremely challenging to get them here because all the off hours I had from work is what I spent networking, getting veterinary care because there are no resources available for this type of thing over in India," she said.

Resources are less of a problem in Minnesota. Bruhn-Worm's aunt, Karen Good, is the founder of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue on the Red Lake Indian reservation, and she helped find places for the puppies. Good has dealt previously with Vicki Davis, executive director of the Tri-County Humane Society.

"We do several transports with her," Davis said. "We take her dogs on a regular basis from up north."

Tri-County's services include care for homeless animals, pet adoption, pet lost and found and humane education. It also answers questions regarding pet care, behavior and other animal-related issues.

"You can't help every animal, but sometimes you're in a position where you can help a couple here and there. And our puppy room hasn't had puppies for a quite a while," Davis said.

Shelly, Moti and Salman romped around an empty room at the shelter and only took breaks to lick the fingers of visitors or answer the call of nature when they became too rambunctious.

"The bottom line is that I saw a need," Bruhn-Worm said about helping the dogs out. "I couldn't turn my back on them knowing that the majority of them, if not all of them, would've died had I not intervened."

An AP Member Exchange Feature shared by St. Cloud Times

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