Dolphins Rookies Touch The Hearts Of Homeless Dogs

Posted Jun 27, 2012

Rookie offensive tackle Andrew McDonald loves dogs and found out that his fellow rookies share that love.


McDonald was the inspiration behind a visit to the Marti Huizenga Animal Care Center in Dania Beach. He and 12 other rookies, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his wife, Lauren, spent an hour with a group of young summer campers interacting with homeless dogs.

“I grew up with a love for animals in Indiana, especially dogs because my grandma has like five golden retrievers and I used to go run in the country with him,” McDonald said. “So I’ve always had a place in my heart or dogs, especially those that were found in bad situations, so I just want to give back.”

After he approached Ilona Wolpin, Senior Director of Community Relations, to try to organize this visit, McDonald wasn’t sure how many of his teammates would be interested. Expecting maybe two or three, he was pleasantly surprised to see such a big response.

It wasn’t until about 30 minutes before their arrival when the kids were told that Dolphins players were coming and they were thrilled. They were so eager to teach the players what they have learned about dogs and made sure when they were downstairs going in and out of the cages that the players were paying attention.

“I was impressed,” McDonald said. “It was kind of funny one time when I approached a cage and kind of put my fingers in there and this little girl said, ‘Don’t do that,’ and gave me the whole rundown as to why. You don’t want to get the other dogs sick so you have to sanitize your hands after you leave every cage.”

Some of the players got to watch the dogs exercise in an outdoor area and read their stories as to how they ended up at the shelter. It wound up being an educational experience for the players as well as for the campers.

The hope is that the community will become more aware of the shelter and of the mission of the Humane Society of Broward County, which is to not only educate kids but also adults on the needs of these dogs and cats.

“One of many programs that we have is our education department. We reach thousands of kids every year through various programs like summer camp,” said Cherie Wachter, vice president of marketing. “Summer camp started a few years ago as a very small project and now our summer camp sells out. The kids love it because they learn about different animals, respecting animals and kindness and when the players came they were able to share that knowledge with the players.”

The Tannehills, like just about everyone else on hand, found it hard to resist not taking one or more of these dogs home with them. Everyone was touched by the dogs’ plights and by how well the kids did with them.

Ryan and Lauren own two dogs so they know all about what it means to take care of them. They even learned some things from the kids about certain ways to handle dogs.

“I love dogs and this experience means a lot to me as well as all of the other guys that came here,” said Tannehill, Miami’s first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M. “Hopefully, we were able to brighten these dogs’ day and some of the kids, too. It’s just cool to see the kids care about the dogs so much and frequently come down here and know what to do down here. Some of these dogs are really sweet dogs and they give you that look that says ‘Please take me home.’ My wife, she can’t really take it when she sees that.”

At that moment, Lauren Tannehill gave her husband the other look in an attempt to pull on his heartstrings.

“I really wish we could find each of them a home because they’re all so sweet,” she said. “There was actually one I wanted today. Of course I knew there was going to be one or more than one that I wanted but we’ve got two so we don’t need to add to the family anymore yet.”

If McDonald had his way, he could come up with a solution to appease everyone affected by their experience with the dogs – especially the dogs themselves.

“I just want to build a farm somewhere and just get all of these dogs out here in the free range,” McDonald said. “I came in and I knew this was going to tough because I saw cage after cage with story after story. More people need to know about these dogs.”

And now they will.
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