Some dogs at the ASPCA get adopted before we can even say “woof,” but some take a little bit more time to find the perfect home. In the case of Rolo—a pit bull rescued from a hoarder—a difficult past meant he was repeatedly overlooked. But for one adopter willing to see beneath the surface, Rolo turned out to be the greatest pet imaginable. Here is his Happy Tail.
Rolo was rescued from a hoarder in Queens, New York, in February 2014. At 62-pounds, the one-year old pup was already a handful. He suffered from chronic skin issues that left him with bald patches, and he was diagnosed with a chronic heart defect called pulmonic stenosis. We knew he needed extra care, so we were thrilled to see him adopted four weeks after his arrival. But our joy was short-lived, as Rolo was soon returned because the adopter said he had behavioral issues, including fear of loud noises and a dislike of strangers.
Back at square one, Rolo continued to wait patiently for a new home. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months—until October rolled around and Rolo still hadn’t been adopted. His quiet, shy temperament made it hard to woo adopters, and he was repeatedly passed over for more outwardly affable dogs. We knew our sweet guy was something special; we just had to wait for an adopter with the patience to see past his medical issues and aloof exterior. Finally, we met Joe.
Joe, who lives in the West Village neighborhood of New York City, had been on a long search for the perfect pet. “Why would anyone NOT want to adopt a dog,” he laughs. “I can’t think of a better way to come home every day than to be greeted like a long-lost friend.” He visited several different shelters and rescues on the hunt for his future dog, stating, “I was confident that I would be able to find a companion who was unique and perfect for my life, with a one-of-a-kind personality and story.” An ASPCA donor, Joe had participated in our annual Young Friends event, so he realized he might have luck at the ASPCA Adoption Center uptown. That’s when he finally met Rolo.
“He was an absolutely magnificent-looking Staffie,” Joe says of his first impression of the pooch. “But he was more subdued than others and wasn’t immediately barking, jumping and licking all over his visitors.” We filled him in on Rolo’s history and medical issues, but those details weren’t what mattered to Joe. “Everyone who interacted with Rolo seemed to genuinely love him and that showed. Rolo had gotten my attention.”
After spending time with Rolo at the Adoption Center, Joe’s impression only strengthened. He says, “I realized that what others described as ‘subdued and unfriendly’ meant that he was patient and observant. I quickly understood that Rolo was the most intelligent, even-mannered, mature and well-behaved dog that I had seen over two months and dozens of individual visits. I knew that he had the potential to be an amazing dog and a perfect representative for a misunderstood breed.” On October 10, Rolo became an official member of Joe’s family.
Back at Joe’s apartment, sweet Rolo continued to shine. “He immediately proved himself,” says Joe. “Not one incident or accident as long as he’s been home!” Rolo now loves spending time at the dog park and at the pet hotel—where he plays wonderfully with other dogs and people. “He is the dog that most everyone dreams of,” Joe beams. “Playful, obedient, loving, intelligent, cute—you name the superlative and he’s been called it. I can no longer keep track of how many times we’ve heard, ‘I love your dog.’”
From life in a hoarder’s home to an unsuccessful adoption, Rolo has come so far. He is proof that there’s a perfect person for every animal—and that sometimes, it takes a few false starts to get to your happy ending. Joe says, “Rolo has beaten the odds and become the most admired and most loved dog by everyone we run into, everywhere we go. And most definitely by me!”
Acting at the request of the Stone County Sheriff’s Department, the ASPCA is on the ground in Mountain View, Arkansas, today removing approximately 100 dogs from an overwhelmed rescue group’s facility. The facility agreed to surrender the dogs due to its lack of sufficient resources. The dogs—including Huskies, Labs and Beagles—range from two days to 10 years old. The majority were never spayed or neutered and several are pregnant.
At the request of Humane Society International (HSI), two of 23 dogs rescued from a meat farm in South Korea are being transferred to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey today. The ASPCA Rehabilitation Center is the first and only facility dedicated to the behavioral rehabilitation of fearful and undersocialized homeless dogs, and HSI contacted the ASPCA after it became apparent that the dogs needed behavioral rehabilitation.
Our animal behavior experts and support staff will work daily with the two dogs—a white Jindo named Robin and a Husky mix named Kaya—until they are ready for adoption. The team will utilize scientific techniques to reduce the dogs’ fear of people, as well as to gradually acclimate them to unfamiliar objects, sounds, living areas, and real-life situations that can induce trauma and severe distress.
“The ASPCA is pleased to be in a position to help these two dogs overcome their past and begin a new life,” said Kristen Collins, Senior Director of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation. “We’ve gained a tremendous amount of insight into behavioral rehabilitation over the past two years since the launch of our program, and we hope to help countless more dogs like Kaya and Robin recover and find permanent homes.”
We are thrilled to help Kaya and Robin begin their road to recovery, and we look forward to giving many more innocent victims of cruelty and neglect a second chance at life. To see the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in action, check out the story of Coconut, a traumatized puppy mill dog who was rehabilitated and adopted into a loving home.
The last Tuesday of every February is World Spay Day. To celebrate this day—and highlight the life-saving importance of spay/neuter services—we checked in with some of the ASPCA’s own Spay/Neuter Advocates who are on the ground every day making a difference in the lives of animals and their families.
On a recent, frigid January morning in East Harlem, ASPCA community advocates Selena Edwards and Arturo Arana visited Theresa J. to check on her eight-month-old pit bull, Coco, who had been spayed two weeks before.
Selena and Arturo first met Theresa and Coco last September. They offered a free ID tag for Coco, whom Theresa had adopted from a friend. Theresa considered letting Coco have “just one litter,” but decided to have her spayed after being encouraged by Selena and Arturo.
Coco is one of thousands of owned dogs and cats who live in high poverty areas with limited access to veterinary care and or other pet resources, and where pets are most at risk of neglect, cruelty, relinquishment to shelters, and euthanasia.
But with focused initiatives, the ASPCA is concentrating its attention on pets—like Coco—most at risk.
ASPCA CARES (Community, Advocacy, Resources, Enrichment, and Service) employs advocates who visit communities one city block at a time to ensure every resident or family on that block has the opportunity to take advantage of the ASPCA’s free and low-cost services.
Their dedication pays off. In 2014, the ASPCA provided 3,782 spay/neuter surgeries in New York and 3,359 in Los Angeles. These numbers comprise 16 percent of the ASPCA’s 2014 total of 42,584 spay/neuter surgeries, more than ever before in a single year in the organization’s 148-year history.*
Christopher Keith and Desire Menendez, community advocates who canvas the Claremont Village area of the Bronx, go door-to-door in the Morris Houses, a public housing complex comprising several blocks. Across the country, community advocate Elizabeth Gamboa knocks on doors in South L.A. Like her counterparts in NYC, Elizabeth offers free ID tags in addition to information on spay/neuter services, and the many benefits they provide
“Our community advocates engage residents in a very grassroots way—knocking on doors and introducing themselves,” says Jocelyn Kessler, Director of Operations for the ASPCA Spay/Neuter Operations team. “They build trust with residents to improve the quality of lives for both the animals and the people who care for them.”
ASPCA advocates Lisa DeLarios and Isadora Peraza-Martinez regularly visit neighborhoods in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. “We meet a lot of pets that are related and that helps spread the word,” says Isadora. “In one building, all of the cats were from the same source—they were all ‘Bubbles’ babies,” said Lisa.
Lisa and Isadora convinced Bubbles’ owner to have her spayed, and even transported the black and white tuxedo cat to the ASPCA on January 14 for pre-surgery blood work. They are now targeting other cats and dogs in the building.
Margie O., a client in the Bronx, welcomes Chris and Desire each time they visit with home-made corn cakes. Although Margie has undergone two open-heart surgeries and is raising her five-year-old granddaughter, she made sure all of her dogs were altered with the ASPCA’s help.
As Chris says, “If that doesn’t motivate you, what does?”
*The ASPCA provided 16,602 surgeries to NYC residents within the targeted areas via its mobile spay/neuter clinics, which have been providing free and low-cost spay/neuter since 1997. Two stationary clinics in New York—at 92nd Street in Manhattan and in Glendale, Queens—serve the rescue community, ASPCA Adoption Center, Animal Care & Control of NYC, Community Intervention Advocacy (CIA) clients, and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs—and have doubled their capacity, with 18,840 surgeries last year. The ASPCA also provided 225 grants totaling over $3.7 million dollars to other organizations nationwide for spay/neuter.
Could you imagine having to give up your beloved pet because you couldn't afford to spay or neuter it?
Sadly, in underserved communities in and around the greater Los Angeles area, the biggest obstacles to spaying and neutering pets—which is critical to preventing animal homelessness, suffering, and unnecessary euthanasia—come down primarily to issues of economics and geography.
These neighborhoods are often "resource deserts," where pet-friendly resources are difficult to find, hard to reach and often unaffordable. As a result, many families find themselves having to choose between paying for preventive pet care and paying the rent.
But if keeping animals alive, out of shelters, and in homes are top goals, then helping owners achieve them should be a top focus. That means putting our best efforts inside the communities that desperately need them, providing accessible and affordable resources, and engaging residents directly.
This is what Spay Day—tomorrow, February 24—is all about. But to be successful, we have to maintain this level of commitment every day.
Last year, with the help of our local partners in the animal rescue and sheltering community, we opened a spay/neuter clinic in South Los Angeles to significantly expand access to fully-subsidized spay/neuter surgery in the area. To date, we've performed more than 4,000 subsidized spay/neuter surgeries for pets at our facility in Chesterfield Square.
Meanwhile, our "safety net" program in partnership with Los Angeles County has arranged for over 700 spay/neuter surgeries for pets at risk of being relinquished to the Baldwin Park and Downey shelters, subsidized in part by funding from the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation.
We've also distributed more than $1.3 million in grants to L.A.-based animal welfare organizations and partners including Downtown Dog Rescue, which holds regular spay/neuter events in Compton; and The Amanda Foundation, which rescues hard-to-adopt animals from L.A. City and County shelters and operates a "spaymobile" throughout the city.
Pet homelessness is a problem that calls out for compassionate and targeted solutions. With about 7.5 million companion animals entering shelters across the country each year, it's critical we focus on making preventive services accessible and available for families—including pets—who need them most.