February 24, 2016

ASPCA Happy Tails: Taking Toby Home

One of the ASPCA’s primary areas of focus is animal placement—more specifically, keeping animals in homes. Through safety net programs, community initiatives and education and awareness campaigns, we work hard to do whatever it takes to prevent animals from being unnecessarily surrendered to shelters. In December, we released a study showing that more than one million households surrender their pets every year, often for preventable reasons. With euthanasia rates hovering around 35% nationwide, many of these animals have little likelihood of being re-homed—despite being perfectly adoptable pets. That’s why we thought it was important to share the story of one such animal, a Pomeranian named Toby, in today’s Happy Tail.

Four-year-old Toby first arrived at the ASPCA last July. After living his entire life in one home, the 15-lb. Pom was surrendered when his family moved to place that did not allow dogs. While it may sound like a drastic decision, moving (and lack of pet-friendly housing) is actually the reason behind 18% of animal surrenders.

Like many surrendered animals, Toby was an otherwise ideal pet. He was housetrained, healthy and friendly. In an already-overwhelmed shelter system, it was a shame to have to take him in. Fortunately, he was adopted less than a week later—only to be returned after three months for financial issues, which are, unsurprisingly, another common reason for animal surrender. In fact, pet-parents with annual salaries less than $50k are significantly more likely to be forced to re-home their pets than any other group.

With Toby back in our care once again, we were more determined than ever to find him a permanent home. Thankfully, on October 26, we met Christian and Carol F. of Jackson Heights, Queens.

Christian and Carol both grew up with dogs, and had adopted their own dog, Raven, from the ASPCA in 2005. A few years after Raven passed away from cancer, the family decided that “it was time to give a new pet love and a happy life,” so they headed back to the ASPCA Adoption Center. They walked through the center and saw many possible pets before Christian spotted Toby. It was love at first sight: “I knew he was the dog for us when he walked up to me and stared into my eyes,” Christian says. “It was a similar connection I felt with Raven, so it felt right.”

Carol and Christian did a meet-and-greet with the precious Pom, which further cemented their decision. “He was super affectionate and little nervous, but it was a great meeting,” Christian recalls. They adopted Toby that day and changed his name to Chewie, and together they headed back to Queens to begin their new life.

Carol and Chewie lounging at home

In the months since Chewie’s adoption, he has proven what have known all along: that he is a perfect pet! Christian says he is very well adjusted and quite intelligent. “He knows when we have to go for walks, when and where he eats, and what rooms he is allowed to go in.” The couple is also working on teaching Chewie commands like “sit,” “lay down” and “wait/stay.” Christian adds, “He is very well behaved and often sits on the couch with us to get cuddles while we relax.”

Chris and Chewie sharing a moment.

What’s more, Chewie has proven to be a wonderful companion to Carol’s sister who has Down syndrome, and he also enjoys visiting Carol’s job at the boathouse, where he sits inside the boats and loves the attention he gets when other rowers see him. All in all, it sounds like an ideal match.

Left: Chewie bonding with Carol's sister, Ivonne. Right: Carol and Chewie at Row New York Para-rowing Halloween practice.

We are grateful that Chewie found such a loving home, but not all animals are so lucky. Far too often, perfectly adoptable pets just like him languish in the shelter system through no fault of their own, and his story is an important reminder of why we do the work that we do. The ASPCA is committed to making a difference when it comes to animal placement, and if you’d like to make a difference, too, please consider opening your home to an adoptable pet today.

Chewie hanging out in a tote bag.