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KNOXVILLE — More than a dozen golden retrievers have found a second chance at life and love, thanks to two students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Carol Newsom and Erica Eads both volunteer with the Tennessee Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (TVGRR), which helps displaced and discarded golden retrievers find good homes.

Eads, a third-year veterinary student, has been fostering dogs for TVGRR since the fall semester. She is now fostering Ben, a rambunctious canine that loves to climb fences.

“He came to me with hookworms, tapeworms and heartworms,” Eads said. “But now, his intestinal worms are gone and he’s filling out nicely. He’s done well with his house training and he can sit, stay and come. He’s also become more outgoing. He’s really made improvements by leaps and bounds.”

Newsom, who already has a degree in animal science, is at UT to become a medical laboratory technologist. Newsom was one of the founding members of the TVGRR group in 1997 and is still active in fostering golden retrievers.

“I can only foster one dog at a time, but I’ve probably had about 12 to 15,” Newsom said. “I usually take care of the seniors. It’s a lot of work.”

Newsom said her favorite dog was a 12-year-old named Sport. Newsom adopted him because his previous owner had passed away.

“He was a great dog,” Newsom said. “He was a retired service dog. He followed me around and could go to work with me at the Fountain City Animal Hospital. We became very close.”

TVGRR accepts golden retrievers from all sorts of backgrounds, Newsom said. They help manage shelter overload, accept unwanted dogs or give the dogs a home if an owner can’t afford a pet anymore. The group also makes sure the dogs it takes in are microchipped and vaccinated.

Anyone who wants to adopt a dog must fill out an application and agree to a veterinary background check on their past pet ownership.

“We try to match up a golden with an appropriate owner,” Newsom said. “For instance, if a family has children, we have to make sure the dog will interact with them well. Or, if someone is in a wheelchair, they need a more self-sufficient dog.”

Although TVGRR has many devoted volunteers, they are always looking for more people to help out.

“We always need volunteers for all kinds of activities,” Newsom said. “Not everyone fosters dogs. There are all kinds of activities and events that students can get involved with.”

TVGRR hosts an Adopt-A-Thon every first and third Saturday of the month. This event allows people from the community to visit a specific location where they can adopt a golden retriever.

Both Eads and Newsom are enthusiastic about the great things TVGRR is doing in the community and in their own lives.

“It’s a fantastic organization, and it’s really been fulfilling and challenging to be able to befriend and help these dogs,” Eads said.

For more information about TVGRR, visit their Web site. Also, check out a video from Erica Eads playing fetch with Ben on the Ready for the World Facebook page.

C O N T A C T :

Bridget Hardy (865-974-2225,