Pooch lives life of luxury

TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – Helen Rich loves animals, she always has. At one time she worked at a veterinary clinic, cleaning out kennels.

She did this despite the fact that her great grandfather founded the Wrigley chewing gum company and eventually she would inherit great wealth from her family.

Recently, she saw a heart wrenching story about a dog that walked 30 miles to go back to the home of a family she had been with. The family rejected the dog and sent it to an animal shelter.

Rich decided the moment she saw the story that she had to have the dog.

“I know how these adoption things work,” Rich said. “She’s going to get a lot of attention. A lot of people are going to apply and while everybody is fighting over her, she’ll be living in the shelter.”

At the time she was in Hawaii, so she called her assistant and instructed him to do what he could to get the dog.

“I said, ‘Chet get the jet, go get the dog. Now, today,'” Rich said.

So, the assistant made some calls and then boarded the private jet to go to an animal shelter and get the dog.

“Lady” is an aging Labrador who now has the run of Rich’s 127 acre farm in northern Hillsborough County.

She is not the only animal Helen Rich has rescued. On the farm there are pigs, chickens, cattle, cats, turkey’s and more. Rich estimates she has more than 300 animals.

“I just quit counting after a while,” she said.

The cats live in structures that can be best referred to as “cat condos”. She has a quarantine area for new cats that come in, so they can be checked out before being put in with the main cat population.

“Those pigs will die of old age before she gets rid of them,” said an assistant on the farm.

Lady, the lab, looks as though she has lived on the farm her entire life.

When Helen climbs into a golf cart to show a reporter around her grounds, Lady jumps into the golf cart first and takes the front seat.

“Well, she’s pretty bonded to me,” said Rich.

There at least three dogs living in her 15,000-square-foot home, and Lady fits in with the dogs as though they are all just part of a pack.

“She sleeps with me now,” said Rich. “She doesn’t take up the entire bed or take the covers and she doesn’t snore,” she added with a smile.

Lady may have been rejected by one family, but she has a new home now. She has won the doggie lotto.

“That’s just Karma, isn’t it?” said Rich.

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