Maggie Stafford with River (left) and Collier.

If you haven’t heard the remarkable story of “Rescuing River,” it’s time you did. First, River is a beautiful, soulful dog. River was found in northern Clinton, Iowa, shot in the head three times and left for dead by his owner. It was during a particularly brutal time in Clinton when two other dogs were similarly shot and abandoned; one lost its life. River’s story is shared on Facebook (Facebook.com/rescuingriver) for those interested in learning more about this remarkable dog, his remarkable rescuers, and the fan base that has ensued in support of River. It is the most uplifting, wonderful story, and a joy to read.

River was rescued by Maggie Stafford and Team River, which includes Jean Regenwether (our own columnist and Maggie’s BFF), area veterinarians, and a host of other compassionate souls, all of whom spared no effort or expense in saving River’s life. It was an enormous undertaking of patience and meticulous attention to River’s medical needs and rehabilitation. Team River claimed this spectacular victory, healing his wounds both inside and out. The happy ending for River is that he was adopted to a welcoming, loving home. You guessed it: His forever family is Maggie and John Stafford and their three boys. No one was surprised.

Maggie Stafford has been partnering with all manner of animal-rescue operations for years, but what sets Maggie apart is her consistent willingness to take on the desperate cases of severe animal abuse, disability, and illness. Whether for a long haul or just short-term, Maggie – with the support and encouragement of animal friends – takes these ruined animals and provides forever homes, which necessarily include proper medical care, abundant kindness and love, and a way back to trusting humans that allows these animals to live happy lives, often for the first time ever.

Now the tables have turned, and River’s mom Maggie needs our help. She is suffering from severe fistulating Crohn’s Disease along with a rare systemic auto-inflammatory disease (periodic fever syndrome) and finally the onset of a super-bug infection – all of which are threatening her life. She is being cared for by an expert team of doctors in Iowa City, but expenses are mounting exponentially. Maggie will also require a very risky, specialized, and expensive surgery, once the inflammation and dangerous infection are under control, to restore her to health.

River, his new brother Collier (also rescued with debilitating challenges that would make most of us swoon), her three boys, her husband John, and a huge community of friends, animal lovers, and pet owners want her back. Maggie and John also own and operate Buddy Gourmet in Clinton, providing the highest-quality pet food and dog treats on the market today – meaning that our pets who eat Buddy Gourmet food exclusively need her back, too.

There is an event being held for Maggie to raise funds to this end. Your support is most welcome. For those who don’t know Maggie but who would move Heaven and Earth to rescue our beloved animals, sometimes we have to save the special people who do the saving for all of us. It’s our turn to rescue Maggie and, in doing so, pay it forward and give Maggie back to all those who love her dearly, and to all the animals who will need her in the future.

Please join us at the Tuscany Special Events Center (2417 Cleveland Street in Clinton) at 5 p.m. on March 25. Advance tickets are $20, or $150 for a group of eight that will also receive a commemorative T-shirt at the door. The event will include a boutique and photo booth, cake sale, cake auction, buffet dinner, cash bar, silent auction, fashion show, raffles, and live entertainment by The Dunmore & Newman Group, Dan Peart, and The Ripplers. For more information on this event, please contact Kate Sager at (563)212-8603 or katesagerhomes@gmail.com, or Hannah Peart at (563)219-6789 or hannahpeart@ruhlhomes.com.

Donations can also be made to GoFundMe.com/the-stafford-family-care-fund. Contributions by check can be made out to Stafford Family Care Fund, which is not a 501(c)(3).

To learn more about the impact of rare diseases and how you can help, visit GlobalGenes.org.

Thank you from our hearts to our paws for any amount of support you can give. Woof woof!