Just last week I got an email that tore me up. It was from a dog rescuer in Jersey City: he has been fostering an 80-pound mastiff mix for over two years, and is despairing of ever finding him what we animal activists like to call a "forever" home.
Levi, the dog in question, is sweet, good with other dogs, cats, and kids; he loves people and needs and deserves a home where he'll get a lot of attention. Dumped at a Jersey shelter, covered in cuts and injuries, he required thousands of dollars of vet care, and still bears the scars of his brief career as a fighting "bait" dog. Because part of his mix is Shar-Pei, he has delicate skin which tears easily, and it shows (and as a result he can't live with any very aggressive/overly boisterous dogs).
Poor Levi. Two years is a long time to wait for a home. And there are Levis all over the NYC area, waiting in shelters and foster homes for their people to come and adopt them.
As the economic crisis staggers along, some pet people are continuing to have a hard time making ends meet: dogs and cats are still being given up by their caregivers, who sometimes have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their animals. Seriously, I've been helping to get food and supplies to these folks for a few years now, to try and keep them and their pets together and get the pets out of the shelter.
At the same time, awareness of the plight of animals in shelters is increasing dramatically. More and more folks are adopting as they become aware of the evils of puppy mills, and the amazing potential of rescued animals: virtually all homeless dogs and cats are homeless because their people failed in one way or another, not because of anything wrong with the animals in question, or anything they did.
A lot of people are working very hard to save and re-home NYC dogs—scores of rescuers "pull" dogs everyday from the city kill shelter, putting their own money and time into getting them vet care, training when needed, and buying them the time to find families.
Well, it's time to find these guys, and girls, real homes: if you're tempted to adopt, please do, the sooner the better. If your landlord says no, try to reason with him or her—often the offer of $100-$200 pet security will show your good intentions, and change their mind. And if you don't have room in your life for a full-time pet, consider volunteering or fostering: fostering means you "host" an animal for anywhere from a day to a year, while actively participating in finding it a home. Fostering saves lives!
Here at The L, I'm going to be doing my part by writing a daily "Dog O' the Day" piece for our website: check in at TheLMagazine.com, and you'll find in-depth descriptions of NYC shelter and rescue dogs needing homes, pictures, details on where you can see them, who to contact, and how else to help. My website, Thisbagsaveslives.com is even going to sponsor adoption fees for select dogs who are especially deserving.
Please tune in: with a little more networking, a few more enlightened individuals, and a lot more compassion, we can find homes for them all. Seriously.
And of course, my first Dog o' the Day is going to be beautiful Levi: come see what a great guy he is—and I have a special present for whomever adopts him. Woof!