2006-03-22 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets...

by Joanne Anderson

Welcome to your new pet column! Actually the column is new to the Post, but I'm an old timerbeen writing "Pets, Pets, Pets" in the Babylon BEACON since '83. Twenty five years ago I discovered the wealth of dogs in my town shelter (Babylon) when I followed an Afghan hound in the back seat of a police car to the pound. I adopted that Afghan, and have been trying ever since to make the public aware of the endless supply of deserving shelter dogs and cats waiting for homes.

 Pets for Kelly, the smooth Collie Mix Pets for Kelly, the smooth Collie Mix Many seeking a new dog will go to a pet store or breeder. Few consider visiting a town shelter. Often folks don't even know their town has a shelter because the facilities tend to be hidden in out of the way spots, often near the dump. It's no coincidence that the word "litter" is synonymous with "trash". Millions of dogs and cats are thrown away each year in the US. Thankfully, with the help of private humane groups, conditions and euthanasia statistics in LI municipal shelters have improved since the '80s. Rescue organizations continue to convince people that spaying and neutering their pets will lessen the suffering of overpopulation.

Squirt, waiting for you at the Osyter Bay shelter Squirt, waiting for you at the Osyter Bay shelter However, town shelters still overflow with highly adoptable dogs. As noted trainer Brian Kilcommons has said: "One person's trash is another person's treasure". The adorable, novelty puppies become the energetic, adolescent strays and surrenders. Their former owners may not have had the time and patience to work with them, yet given the proper chance these dogs are usually willing students. It's no wonder that hearing dog schools, US Customs, the FDA and the Transit Authority search municipal shelters for canine trainees.

A variety of pure and mixed breed dogs enter town shelters. Pedigree papers are not a guaranteed ticket home. The purebreds remain, unclaimed by owners too. The more popular the breed, the more likely it is to appear in the pound. Labs, Poodles, Shepherds, Cockers, Rotties are plentiful. The shelter population mirrors the current AKC registration.

Less common purebreds appear in shelters too, but it's impossible to predict where or when. Shelters have request lists, and purebred rescues are networked online across the country. Meanwhile, each mixed breed is a unique gem. People are paying a fortune for faux "designer" breeds like Puggles and Schnoodles when the shelters have been always filled with these dogs. The Petfinder website has been a Godsend in recent years, uniting adopters with the pet of their dreams.

Sometimes you have to appraise the shelter dog or cat with a "realtor's eye" to picture what is under the shivering or mats of neglect. Tony, an amazing Standard Poodle adopted by a Massapequa family, looked like a Rastafarian when I took him out of the pound. Black, oil slicked kittens have shampooed up pure white. A little tender loving care, a walk, a hug, a treat can work miracles in getting a waif to relax and show its true temperament.

This column began in Babylon more than 2 decades ago to make the "invisible" shelter pets more visible. Each Saturday I visit the shelter as volunteer taking photos, socializing, and grooming the pets waiting for homes. Sometimes the dogs and cats let me dress them up or name them after celebsanything to get them noticed. For years I'd shoot a pack of Polaroid a week. Plenty would go in the garbage because excited dogs can't stand still and cats blurred. Digital cameras have revolutionized pet adoptions. Our pound pup pictures can be sent to contacts across the US or to my vets for medical close-ups.

Keep in mind, you can be choosy and still find the pet you want from a town shelter or rescue group. Plus, there's the bonus of knowing you saved a life. It may take a little time and perseverance, but it can be done. When you connect with that particular pair of soulful eyes, you'll know you've found the companion meant for you. Dogs show us boundless loyalty. They forgive us quickly for earlier human transgressions. No friend is more appreciative than a dog rescued from the pound, forever thankful for your gift of a second chance

Don't know why it took me so long to come home. I grew up in Massapequa, and knew Oyster Bay Town Shelter had buried treasure too. The find of my life came from there. I adopted another Afghan from Oyster Bay in'92. This magnificent fellow, imported from Poland, was picked up on South State Pkwy Exit 29. A photo brought us together his shelter snapshot was on Ch. 12's "Family Pet".

So welcome to your Oyster Bay Town Animal Shelter (677-5784) 150 Miller Pl. Syosset, located right off the LIE north service road, next to the sanitation department. The airy, pink shelter is open 8 to 4, Mon. to Sat. The facility is state of the art. Animals receive combo vaccines when they enter; the dogs even get the preferred intra-nasal Bordatella vaccine. All pets adopted are already neutered and receive rabies shotsso much for the reasonable fee of $59 for cats and $67.50 for NYS licensed dogs.

Two lovely female dogs are our first Post poster pets. Sweet "Kelly" (#060161) is a 2 yr. smooth Collie mix left behind when her family moved to the West coast. She loves kids, cats, and other dogs. "Squirt" (#60156) is a small, stray Sheltie/Chow, about 30 lbs. who does the dance of joy more typical of toy size dogs. See additional photos on the Oyster Bay Petfinder site, by typing "Syosset" on the "quick pet search".

Female Dogs: "Lucy" (#051152) a 3 yr. Shepherd mix; "Dakota" (#060097) a Border collie/Shep.mix.

Male Dog: "Sammy" (#060169) a 2 yr. white Lab mix.

Cats: "Wanda" (#060084) a declawed white; "Sylvester" (#060149) a tuxedo; "Tiger Lily" (#060018)-a declawed tabby fellowall domestic short hairs, all mature adults.

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