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DAILY NEWS PEOPLE JOANIE MORRIS.

Byline: - Kimberly Armendariz

Joanie Morris acquired her love of animals while visiting her grandfather's farm. ``I grew up around horses and loved all kinds of animals'' she says. She helped her barn cat, Scotty, deliver kittens and that really changed her. ``I should have been a vet,'' she reveals, ``but I couldn't handle doing surgery.'' Nonetheless, she soon began to collect a flock all her own.

``My parents indulged me. I had everything - chickens, frogs, horses and turtles - but no fish,'' she said. ``That probably makes me sound spoiled.''

As an adult and a dog owner, she discovered a Web site for Lab Rescue, a non-profit organization that helps find homes for purebred labs. Not only did she adopt one of their dogs, but she also became a volunteer.

In addition to her day job as a production coordinator for a music production company, Morris volunteers several hours a week for Lab Rescue. She writes for the group's newsletter, interviews potential families and visits shelters. Prior to adoption, Morris says, ``we go out to the homes of interested families and make sure the dog will have an appropriate place to sleep, and generally how the dog will be provided for.''

AGE: 42

RESIDENCE: Northridge

BORN AND RAISED IN: Born in Columbus, Ohio; moved to Los Angeles in 1987.

OCCUPATION: Production coordinator

MARITAL STATUS: Married to John Morris

CHILDREN: None

VOLUNTEERISM: Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?: ``I adopted a Labrador retriever from the Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue organization, to be a companion to my female Labrador retriever. I was impressed with their tenacity and dedication in getting dogs placed to good homes.''

WHY DO YOU VOLUNTEER?: ``After I got my first Lab, I learned that there is a very big problem with dog overpopulation, and euthanasia occurs on a daily basis, especially in California. My dogs are wonderful companions, and I know firsthand what a great addition they are to the household. I chose to volunteer to assist in saving homeless dogs from a possible death penalty and also to help match interested families with a dog that suits their wishes.''

BIGGEST DILEMMA: ``... choosing to go with an all-breed rescue group or to volunteer for a group that specializes in one breed. Since I am familiar with retrievers, I felt I could be more helpful to people if I chose this breed to work with.''

MOST DIFFICULT DAILY TASK: ``I go to the shelters on a regular basis ... it's hard to look at all of the dogs in there, some wagging tails and putting a paw out to me, insisting that I take them out, and knowing I cannot save them all.''

FAVORITE DAILY TASK: ``Chit-chatting with my neighbor during our dogs' walks.''

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: ``When someone adopts a dog and returns it after only spending a couple days with it. It takes a few weeks for the dog to settle in and learn all of the new rules and habits of its new family. Sadly, some people expect their dogs to be model citizens and intuitively know the rules from the minute they set a paw in the front door of their new home.''

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: ``When our group members report of adoptions they have helped take place. I have helped families to adopt dogs, and it's very rewarding to hear how happy they are with their new family member.''

FAVORITE ACTIVITIES/HOBBIES: Running, skiing, music, painting, drawing, gardening.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?: ``It's not about how much money you make but rather how you relate to and get along well with others. Success to me is working collectively and getting dogs adopted; the reward is hearing back from the families about how much they love their new dog and how happy they are.''

WHO DO YOU RELY ON, AND WHO RELIES ON YOU MOST?: ``The support of my family and friends is very important. Also, Lab Rescue is fortunate enough to have some very experienced dog people, some of whom raise guide dogs, and I lean on them quite a bit for advice. I think the dogs in the shelter I visit rely on me giving them greater exposure.''

ROLE MODELS: ``I admire the volunteers who can handle the interested families and the adoptable dogs with equal finesse. A volunteer who can make a good assessment as to what the family is looking for, and who can also evaluate the dogs and make a great match, is an invaluable asset to any rescue organization.''

GOALS FOR THE FUTURE: ``I hope to help unite more dogs and families, as it brings joy to both, and to increase visibility and raise awareness to the general public about Lab Rescue. Labs are the No. 1 registered breed according to the 1999 AKC registration statistics, so more Labs are bred to meet the demand, putting them at greater risk of being dumped because they might not meet show criteria, or due to lack of training.''

WHAT WOULD BE A PERFECT DAY FOR YOU?: ``Going to Big Sur with my husband and two Labs, running on the beach, snow-skiing at Mammoth.''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Joanie Morris, with pals Chester, left, and Taffy, began volunteering with Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue after getting Chester from the organization.

Phil McCarten/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 16, 2000
Words:884
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