2018-05-03 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

EMPTY THE SHELTERS is back and bigger than ever. This Sat., May 5, BISSELL Pet Foundation will cover the adoption fees at 111 shelters and rescues across 13 states. Adopters will not pay fees that day because the shelters will be reimbursed up to a certain amount for their expenses.

Last Hope Animal Rescue in Wantagh is one of three Long Island rescues participating in this adoption incentive. The other two are Long Beach Humane Society in Island Park and Posh Pets Rescue in Long Beach. Animal Care Centers in NYC will also take part in this event on Saturday.

Finding a loving, forever home for every pet is the ultimate goal of BISSELL Pet Foundation. Their motto is “Until every pet has a home.” Sometimes furry friends need a little extra help, so the foundation created EMPTY THE SHELTERS free adoption days. BISSELL Pet Foundation will reimburse participating agencies up to $135 for each dog adoption and $70 for each cat adoption. New owners pay no fee (or a greatly reduced fee) to welcome a shelter pet into their family. The foundation also provides leashes for the dogs, collars for the cats, wellness booklets and coupons.

This event is not the “great pet giveaway.” Rescues are not lowering their adoption standards. Participating organizations will follow their regular procedures to ensure pets go to the best homes. All adopters will be screened by qualified adoption counselors and will be required to fill out an application. Each organization will take all the time they need to make sure every pet finds the appropriate, forever family. Each adopter fills out a short survey which the Foundation uses to improve procedures.

Nationwide, approximately 2.7 million pets are euthanized yearly because they are unable to find homes. Since May 2016, close to 19,000 pets have been placed during EMPTY THE SHELTERS events.

There’s a double impact. When you adopt a shelter pet, you improve and possibly save the life of two pets—your new furry best friend, plus the dog or cat that will fill the cage or kennel once occupied by your adopted pet. Therefore, BISSELL Pet Foundation asks EMPTY The SHELTERS participants to partner with other rescues to help fill the spaces once pets are adopted.

Teamwork expands the impact of the dream. Private rescues without space problems partner with rural, overcrowded shelters in distressed socioeconomic areas where the dogs stand little chance of leaving the shelter alive. Before this weekend, 72 dogs from a packed Louisiana shelter are being transported to a humane society in Michigan so they will be available for EMPTY THE SHELTERS.

Last Hope participated in the 2017 EMPTY THE SHELTERS held last September. Beforehand, dogs arrived on a Kentucky transport and from two LI town shelters. Last Hope placed 14 dogs (and five cats) during the event. Eleven new dogs arrived on Southern transports that night and the next afternoon because Last Hope had the space to save them.

BISSELL Pet Foundation is relatively young. Founded in 2011 by Cathy Bissell, BISSELL Pet Foundation is an extension of her long-standing love for animals and commitment to their welfare. The foundation is supported by BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a 140-year-old Grand Rapids-based floor care appliance brand in its fourth generation of family leadership.

EMPTY THE SHELTERS is only one facet of how the Foundation fulfills its mission. BISSELL Pet Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization attempting to help reduce the number of animals in shelters and to support organizations dedicated to the humane care and treatment of animals through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, micro-chipping and foster care. The foundation has given millions of dollars to approved animal welfare groups for their programs. This spring BISSELL Pet Foundation awarded Last Hope a generous grant to defray our spay/neuter costs for 200 feral cats.

Last Hope got into the spirit of EMPTY THE SHELTERS last year. Extra volunteers were on hand to show pets, do reference and dog home checks, make cat deliveries and fill out paperwork. At the end of the day 19 pets had gone home, and we took photos of our empty kennels.

Two pairs of sibling kittens were adopted together. Twinkle had been with Last Hope seven months after she was abandoned outside a Patchogue apartment during a snowstorm. She moved to Lynbrook that day.

Diesel, a neglected five-pound Yorkie from Babylon Shelter, went home with a young couple. Porscha, a Malamute mix from Hempstead Shelter, found a family and a pack. She lives with another Malamute and a Shepherd. Dutchess, a Shepherd mix who had been hospitalized by Last Hope after arriving with pneumonia, was adopted that day.

Then there was Rudy, last adoption of the day. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Rudy, a young Pit, came into Hempstead Town Shelter in late 2016. He had an injured front leg with permanent nerve damage folded up like an accordion which pitched him forward. Rudy found it hard to be noticed among 150 other Pits at the municipal shelter.

Rudy moved to Last Hope in the spring. He remained a volunteer favorite. A specialist recommended amputation of the front limb because of discomfort and balance problems. Generous donations to our “Root for Rudy” campaign paid for his amputation. Several homes fell through because Rudy was over-enthusiastic when meeting other dogs.

The week leading up to EMPTY THE SHELTERS, a young woman came to Last Hope and spied Rudy. She visited him several times, filled out an application (which was approved) and promised to be back Saturday with her husband and three kids. Rudy meshed with the family as if he’d always been theirs, and left Last Hope in a new bed in the back of the van with one of his little brothers holding his leash.

Later that day Rudy’s new mom posted: “Rudy is the best, and we are all over the moon with excitement and happiness!” Rudy’s fans were so grateful to the BISSELL Pet Foundation for helping to “empty Rudy’s kennel.”

EMPTY THE SHELTER Hopefuls at Last Hope (516- 425-1884), 3300 Beltagh Ave, Wantagh: Both have been waiting long—“Jordan” came to Last Hope from Babylon Shelter. I affectionately call him “the giant kielbasa” because he looks like a huge Dachshund. He is very smart, and is doing well with our trainer. “Dorothy” is a tortie Persian abandoned in an apartment in 2015 after an eviction. She is sweet but prefers a home without other cats, dogs or young kids.

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