Little Red Barn Dog Rescue: Giving comfort and joy to pooches

Little Red Barn Dog Rescue executive manager Vail Mani is shown along with pooches, Winchester, Oreo, Turbo and Miles, who have all been adopted.

Little Red Barn Dog Rescue of Rice Lake had the most liked tree among voters in the first annual Christmas Tree Walk.

It is a nonprofit business in its first year that many never even knew existed.

Co-founder and president is Ryan Mlejnek and  co-founder and vice president is Maureen Mlejnek. Vail Mani is the executive manager.

The LRBDR website states:  “We are a small rescue located in the heart of the northwoods of Wisconsin. A family- started dog rescue, we strive to improve the lives of dogs in need until we locate their forever families.

“After seeing the need for help in our southern state neighbors while managing the local humane society, we could not turn a blind eye to the suffering we witnessed, and hence Little Red Barn Dog Rescue was created!

“While we are not a large rescue, and will be working out of our home, we are committed to helping those we can while offering temporary housing with permanent love. Please stick with us while we work through all the red tape, hiccups, and inevitable cries for help! We appreciate your support, encouragement and thinking of our residents when looking for a family member to add to your home.”

Maureen Mlejnek filled in some additional details over the past weekend. She shared, “The concept of our nonprofit dog rescue started to form during November/December 2019. We are located just outside of Rice Lake on [Highway] SS, and our goal is to not only improve the lives of our furry residents, but to prove ourselves a valuable asset to our community when needed.

“Vail and I [Maureen] were both co-managers at the Humane Society of Barron County. LRBDR received our first transfer dogs late January 2020 —three dogs, Mando, Max, Kilo.

“Originally our plan was to assist 50 dogs in our first year, as we were paying for everything out of pocket (from medical to outdoor fencing and everything between.)

The co-founder continued, “That 50-dog goal quickly came, and we found ourselves on our way to assisting 100 dogs. Vail joined us soon after, and then everything really got moving. Vail is currently our only employee, and the one person I knew I wanted to go with on this journey, but in the future we would like to have the rescue have the financial stability of hiring on two or three more caregivers.

“Vail and I are hands on for every single dog that comes to us. There is not one dog that comes to our rescue that we don’t physically touch, medically treat, train and comfort.

“We have a very small foster pool, and those fosters mainly care for small breed dogs to avoid stress around the large dogs, underage pups not ready for adoption and dogs in need of medical care prior to adoption.

“We have now reached 250 dogs assisted in 11 months,” Maureen said. “Besides assisting 250 dogs so far, we have also started community programs.

“We do monthly free microchip clinics for community members and their dogs. These are prepaid, lifetime registered chips; our goal with the microchip clinics is to better assist our animal control officers, police and Happy Tales stray hold facility in reuniting lost dogs.

“We have also started an early education reading program,  and delivered our first books to classrooms in October,” she said. “All books in this program are animal care related, focusing on shelter and rescue animals.

“The first book, ‘Belly Rubbins for Bubbins,’ was donated to classrooms all over Barron County to open a discussion about proper animal care.

“The next book on our reading list will be donated in February.”

She added, “We have also donated well over $5,000 in monetary and needed care items to Barron County animal welfare groups including:  Humane Society of Barron County, Here to the Rescue, Community Cat Coalition, People for Animal Welfare of Barron County and Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic.

“We have sponsored surgeries for these organizations, spay/neuter certificates, food and supplies,” she said.

“Our primary animal care veterinary clinics are Animal Hospital North and Animal Hospital of Chetek with Dr. Khan and Dr. Schuster, but we have also had the privilege of working with Dr. Woods and Dr. Cook at Rice Lake Animal Hospital, Dr. Hansen at Barron Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Ruppel at Northern Lakes Veterinary Clinic — along with so many amazing vet techs.”

To donate to or help out the dog rescue in any way, call 715-736-3244 or email

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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