Toefu was one of 76 dogs rescued from the home of a hoarder in Tennessee in 2010. The dogs were found living in horrific filth, with fumes of ammonia and animal waste strong enough to send one rescuer to the hospital. All of the dogs were desperate for freedom; Toefu was number 16.
After their rescue, the animals were taken to a local shelter where they were treated for a variety of issues. It was there that ASPCA Animal Behaviorist Kristen Collins first spotted Toefu. Likely inbred, Toefu had an underbite, extra toes, and had never before experienced life outside of the hoarder’s home. Kristin adopted her and spent the next year helping the sweet spaniel overcome a lifetime of anxiety, fear and neglect.
In 2013, Kristin and her dogs moved to Madison, New Jersey, where Kristin began overseeing the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center—the first and only facility dedicated to the behavioral rehabilitation of canine victims of cruelty. It was there that Toefu discovered her true calling: helper dog.
This past week, dog breeders and owners came together in New York City to celebrate their definition of “best dog” in several categories at the nation's most famous dog show. One of those categories, introduced in 2014, allows mixed-breed animals to compete amongst their pure-bred counterparts in an agility contest. This year, 15 mixed-breed dogs were among the 330 dogs competing in the agility category. It’s a small but important step in the right direction.
In that direction, all dogs are celebrated, regardless of their lineage, circumstances, condition, or residence. This also means committing time and energy to animals with the fewest advantages—not the most advantages— including millions of homeless dogs across the country in desperate situations.
We’ve been traveling this path for nearly 150 years, and now it has its own “competition”: Best in Shelter with Jill Rappaport, an NBC special airingon NBC owned television stations and NECN on February 21. The ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City is proudly participating, and three ASPCA-adopted dogs will be featured.
Created and hosted by journalist and animal advocate Jill Rappaport, Best in Shelter with Jill Rappaport documents her year-long search for remarkable shelter dog contestants, focusing on hard-to-adopt animals such as pit pulls, older animals and animals with disabilities. While the program ultimately declares “winners,” all of the selected animals find loving homes.
Several celebrities have signed up to lend a hand, including Betty White, Bernadette Peters, Bryant Gumbel, Lindsey Vonn and Emmylou Harris. But the big goal of this project—more so than crowning a champion—is spreading the idea that “best” dogs are everywhere…and they’re waiting for you at your local shelter.
Many of these animals came to shelters as the result of family changes such as death, illness, divorce or relocation. Some owners simply lost the financial means to care for their pets, while other owners abused them to such an extent that the animals had to be saved and seized by police.
Whatever their situation, these animals are innocent victims of human circumstance, and their rescue is in all of our hands. Let’s double our efforts to adopt animals in need and urge others to do the same.
Frieda is a happy-go-lucky pup who loves everyone she meets. This energetic girl is happiest on the move and would be thrilled to go home with an adopter who can give her plenty of exercise to keep her healthy and fit—she’d make a great running buddy!
This smart dog already knows how to “sit” and she’d love to learn a few more tricks, too—especially for a taste of her favorite treat. Frieda has a few ongoing skin issues that require special care, but our Adoptions team can walk you through the best way to manage her medical needs. Frieda would do best as the only pet in a household with kids ages 10-and-up. Adopt Frieda today!
Friedais available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions Department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Frieda, please visit her profile page.
To see Frieda in action at our Adoption Center, check out the video below!
Though we will never know for certain what happened in Smitty’s past, his strength, spirit and resilience have given us all hope for the future. Once a vulnerable burn-victim, Smitty is now thriving at our Adoption Center as he waits for a loving home.
Whether you believe in luck or in fate, one thing is certain: Lucas the cat has both on his side. Rescued at the last minute from a perilous situation, he survived and went on to live a charmed life in the home of an ASPCA staffer. Here is this heroic cat’s very Happy Tail.
On a warm day last June, a New York City Transit (MTA) worker heard mewing on the subway train tracks. Just north of 155th Street on the D line, he found a cat, now named Lucas, huddled under the electrified third rail. Fresh burns and wounds covered the kitty’s 9-lb. body, so the MTA worker rushed him to the ASPCA Animal Hospital. One of his ears had been burned off almost completely; the other was in tattered pieces.
At the hospital, Lucas underwent multiple surgeries and was placed on an eight-week regimen of painkillers and antibiotics to help ease his suffering and heal his skin. It was during his recovery that he met Rena L., a manager at the ASPCA Adoption Center.
Rena, who has been with the ASPCA since 2012, is no stranger to unique animals. In 2013, she adopted another earless kitty named Kylie who was also a burn victim. Her dog Jin had been abandoned in the subway with his mother and littermate. When she heard about Lucas, she knew they had to meet.
“I went to see him and he was all bandaged up,” she recalls. “I decided to foster him because I knew he needed time to heal.” She took Lucas home to her family, which already included a Beagle (Maya), a Chihuahua (Jin), and three cats (Kylie, Gizmo and Cleo). Though Lucas was instantly drawn to Rena’s older cats, it was clear that home life was an unfamiliar experience for the three-year-old newcomer. “Lucas must have been on the streets for a while,” Rena speculates. “I don’t think he had ever known a hug or how it feels to be held.”
Despite the newness of the situation—including daily medication and wound cleaning—it didn’t take long before the former street-cat grew more comfortable in Rena’s home. But it was Rena’s husband, Fabien, who first fell in love. “Lucas is a ‘guy’s cat,’” Rena laughs. “He’s a rough player, but once you have him in your arms he’s like a little baby.” After a few weeks of fostering, they knew he was destined to become a permanent member of their family. In September, he was officially adopted.
After his adoption, Lucas seemed eager to leave his painful past behind. Rena says, “He is full of energy and very mischievous—he is the Alpha to our cats for sure.” When he’s not busy playing or indulging in hijinks, he’s off looking for ways to sneak a snack and satisfy his big appetite. But despite his big personality, she adds, “He’s become a very loving cat who will easily fall asleep in your arms.”
Though Rena is the first to admit that she is a “foster failure,” she wouldn’t change a thing about her animal-filled apartment. “Fostering these special needs animals makes me realize that everyone really deserves a second chance. They really turn around when they’re in a home environment.” As for Lucas, she adds, “We’re at a perfect balance with the number of pets we have. Our home just wouldn’t be the same without him.”
To keep up with Lucas and Kylie, be sure to follow them on Instagram!