For a first-time pet owner, animal adoption can be a daunting experience. New routines, new supplies, and a whole new lifestyle often come with a pet, and for someone like Aidan B., it can be a big adjustment. Fortunately, this first-time dog-dad had two things going for him: a girlfriend who grew up with dogs, and a new three-legged companion to show him just how fantastic pets can be. Here is the Happy Tail of Aidan, Julie, and a beagle named Finch.
Julie S. grew up with dogs and couldn’t wait to adopt one of her own. Her boyfriend, Aidan, wasn’t so sure. Many of Aidan’s relatives have pet allergies, so he hadn’t spent much time around dogs as a kid. Because he was hesitant to jump into adoption, the couple came up with a perfect solution: dog fostering. In August, they signed up for the ASPCA Foster Care Program, and Julie began looking for the perfect first dog to ease Aidan in to the pet-parenting lifestyle. That’s when she found Finch.
A seven-year-old beagle mix, Finch first came to the ASPCA in June. He was rescued from an abusive situation by the NYPD, and he arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital with an injured leg that needed to be amputated. Doctors at the hospital performed the surgery and Finch spent the next couple of months recovering in our care. In August—around the same time Julie and Aidan joined our foster program—Finch was ready to move in to a new home.
“I was browsing the ASPCA website and saw Finch’s face,” Julie recalls. “It was love at first sight, and can you blame me?” She sent Aidan a picture of Finch, but admits that it never even crossed her mind that they would be adopting a dog that day. “To my surprise, we both found ourselves leaving work early to go meet Finch,” she says. “Though we weren’t planning on adopting right then, we had prepared to foster.”
At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Julie and Aidan learned more about sweet Finch. Despite his injuries and difficult past, Finch was loving, playful, and curious—and perfect for the couple. “Finch is pretty adorable and I think anyone who saw his picture would want to adopt him,” says Julie. “But on a more practical note, it was really important to us that he could socialize with people and children. Also, we wanted an older dog.” Finch fit the bill, and—contrary to all plans—Julie and Aidan skipped the foster phase and adopted him that very same day. “It was just a feeling I got when I saw a picture of him, and then a feeling we both got when we met him,” she says.
In his new home, Finch seemed to forget all about his painful past. He now spends his days going for walks around his neighborhood and meeting neighbor dogs and dog owners. “I don’t think Finch has ever met a person he didn’t like!” laughs Julie. He is also learning commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “go to your bed.” Julie adds, “Finch just really fit with our personality and lifestyle.”
And for those wondering how the hesitant adopter, Aidan, is handling all of this, Julie says, “Finch has turned him into a dog person.” In fact, on their fourth night with Finch, Aidan looked at Julie and said, “I can’t even imagine our life without him.”
Guest blog by Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO
Renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead once famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Mead was talking about improving the world for humans, but it’s just as relevant and accurate when we talk about improving the world for animals.
Across the country, animal welfare advocates and shelters are uniting to defy the idea that we can’t do more to significantly reduce the need for euthanasia. The truth is we can do better, inspire more, and increase the number of lives we save year in and year out. We must, given the millions of lives still at stake, and so many people who care.
Nowhere is that truth more obvious than in the results of our ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, which ends a remarkable five-year run this year. Since 2010, hundreds of Challenge contestants have dedicated themselves during June, July, and August to increase their adoption numbers over the previous year. They saved thousands of lives through hard work, creativity, collaboration, and a complete dedication to not only achieving success, but to redefining what’s possible.
This summer alone, 50 competing shelters saved 16,789 more lives than they did last summer, which is more than twice the increases we saw when we started in 2010. The overall results are even more staggering. From 2010 to 2014, Challengers saved more than 282,000 lives, an increase of nearly 60,000 cats and dogs, with dozens of animal shelters increasing their adoptions by 100 percent or more compared to previous years.
Saving lives is the most critical part of this program, but the positive effects of community dedication go beyond that. In these engaged cities and towns, local adopters are honored, and animal adoption is celebrated. Effective adoption tactics are shared widely, so that shelters from coast to coast—be they well-resourced or struggling to handle intake—can benefit. In the end, success is not restricted to a single moment for one community or shelter. Instead, seeds are planted well into the future for longstanding commitment across the country.
This is our hope, and this is our expectation. Because if we’ve learned anything from the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge—and the nearly 300,000 families who opened their hearts and homes to cats and dogs— it’s that thoughtful, committed shelters and engaged communities can indeed transform the world.
As the fifth and final ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge draws to a close, we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the accomplishments of Challenge contestants across the country. Over the course of five spirited competitions, Challengers worked tirelessly to break their own adoption records and win prizes in the form of ASPCA grant funding, resulting inmore than 282,000 animals saved.
In 2014 alone, 50 Challenge contestants saved more than 68,000 animals’ lives in just three months—a combined increase of nearly 17,000 more lives saved than the same period in 2013. We are truly impressed by the dedication, hard work and creativity these shelters employed in order to find loving homes for thousands of animals in need.
Congratulations to our 2014 Challenge winners, and to all those who competed over the past five years. You deserve a round of applause!
Love to wear your support for animals and the ASPCA on your sleeve? Well, we have exciting news! We’ve recently revamped the ASPCA Online Store with a whole new look that’s sure to make shopping more fun, friendly and easier than ever to find the perfect gifts for the pet lovers in your life.
Looking for someone in particular? We’ve got you covered. Our new gift section makes finding the perfect present for your special guy or lucky lady a breeze. Or shop a wide range of pet-themed gifts like mugs or necklaces for the cat or dog enthusiast. You can even find products hand-selected specifically for ASPCA supporters to show the world they’re proud advocates for animals. Plus, every item you purchase supports the ASPCA’s life-saving work for animals nationwide.
We’re so excited by the new look that we’re offering a special discount to ASPCA Blog readers: Enter ASPCA15 at checkout to save 15% off your purchase! And when you spend $50 or more, you’ll receive free shipping on your order.
Guest blog by Deborah Press, ASPCA Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs
Today the ASPCA and the nation’s most capable and caring hearts and minds—from the Department of Justice, the FBI, USDA, and other organizations—met to problem solve around the future of animals rescued from fighting operations. The ASPCA and its government partners came together under the auspices of the Department of Justice’s Animal Cruelty Working Group, to ensure that the process for seizing animals used in these heinous crimes is as smooth and efficient as possible so that more animals can be saved.
The ASPCA regularly works side by side with federal, state and local law enforcement to save animals from cruelty and build criminal cases against abusers. When the ASPCA assists law enforcement in animal fighting raids, the animals are held in limbo as evidence—for over a year sometimes—while prosecutors and law enforcement agencies pursue cases against accused animal fighters. As a result, the animals must stay in temporary shelters and cannot begin their new lives in forever homes.
Animal fighting victims aren’t like other criminal evidence that can be warehoused in storage lockers for years at a time. These animals have delicate behavioral needs, and even with the best staff behaviorists in the country tending to them, rescued dogs often deteriorate psychologically after many months caged in a temporary shelter environment to the point where they cannot be adopted.
We are grateful to our partners for all of the work they do to stamp out animal fighting and for throwing their expertise and passion for animals into this important cooperative conversation.