Terminally ill canine in Rancho Santa Fe finds her final forever family

Helen Woodward Animal Center recently sent out a plea for a terminally ill 5-year-old black Labrador Retriever blend named Rio. The sweet-faced canine who had survived Super Storm Sandy was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Given only months to live, Center staffers hoped to find her a final forever family. Over the last few weeks, in an overwhelming display of kindness and compassion, applications from animal-lovers across the country came pouring in. On Aug. 26, Rio was finally able to rest her paws in a home of her very own.

Rio quickly made an imprint on the hearts of Helen Woodward Animal Center staff members. Desperate to play with the other dogs at the Center, Rio was slowed only by her compromised lung function, based on the growing cancerous masses in her lungs and near her heart base. Requiring supervision throughout the day, Rio – known to gently “kiss” cats, dogs and humans alike – spent the last few weeks living part-time at the home of a Center adoption technician and part-time at the Center facility.

Now, one very special family has been selected to take Rio home for good. A local family, with extensive dog experience, and their Helen Woodward Animal Center rescue named Liberty have welcomed Rio into their La Mesa home. Explaining why she and her parents were certain that they could provide a good home for Rio, Heather Bardin shared, “Both of my parents are home during the day so Rio will always be in good hands. My dog, Liberty, would love having a dog friend at home too. It really means so much to us to provide a loving home to Rio for the rest of her days.”

It was recently announced that the Del Mar Albertsons/Sav-On Pharmacy had offered to cover the costs of Rio’s medication expenses for the big-hearted family willing to take Rio into their home. Now Blue Buffalo, a dog and cat food company with philanthropic efforts towards pet cancer research, has jumped in to provide a life-supply of food for Rio to the adopting family. Representatives from both companies attended the adoption event on Aug. 26 to present the Bardin family with gifts and support.

For more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center call (858) 756-4117 x 1, go to or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.