On weekends I volunteer at North Shore Animal League, a no-kill animal rescue here on Long Island. It's actually the largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization in the world. Pretty much anyone who adopts a dog on Long Island goes to NSAL. Whenever I see mixed-breeds (the pc term for mutts) at the dog park, 99% of the owners say they adopted them from North Shore. Growing up, that's where we went to adopt both of my family's dogs too. When it came time for me to adopt, I was living upstate, so Brodie was actually from the SPCA of Upstate New York, but had I been here I would have gone to North Shore.
Most rescued puppies come from puppy mills or the south. At North Shore, you'll find a lot of puppies from Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia. Brodie was rescued from a kill shelter in Tennessee. And that's just about the only information we get on them: the state and the sex. The employees guess on the age and the breed. You have no idea how many times I've seen clearly mismarked breeds. They have a poster on the wall with all of the breeds so you can try to see for yourself what the puppy might be mixed with, but there's also a binder (that not many people even know about, let alone use) to read about each breed as well. It kind of bugs me when it appears as though some employee went pit-happy or shepherd-happy... it looks like every puppy is marked pitbull mix or shepherd mix when they barely resemble the breed, so always do some research on your own. But you can't really blame them I guess - it's not like any of us are trained in determining breeds. That's why I downloaded an app. Call it obsession if you will, but I'm a big dog-lover who has a ton of dog books at home - training books, breed books, behavior books - and I read them in my spare time instead of "real" books.
The app isn't the best, but sometimes it helps. For most people, cleaning cages is not the ideal way to spend their free time, but for me it's totally worth it. Yes it's gross, and yes I have to shower the minute I get home, and yes my clothes get ruined, but I get to hold and play with puppies! It's heaven. My favorite part is talking to the people who are looking to adopt and following all the way through the adoption process. It's such an amazing feeling to get puppies and dogs adopted. I fill out the paperwork, and if the new pet parents are approved, the puppy gets to go to his or her forever home. Pure happiness.
What surprises me though is that North Shore doesn't give out promotional pet products. With all the traffic they get, it's such a huge missed opportunity that (as a marketer especially) makes me really sad. They could give leashes or bowls or even go super inexpensive with ID tags or pet health pocket sliders. They are a non-profit organization, so I understand they may not have much extra money for promotional products, but between the adoption fee and the donations people make, I think it would be a worthwhile investment. I heard an ad on the radio yesterday morning that North Shore just rescued 160 puppies this week, 40 of which came from a puppy mill in Oklahoma (that is now closing down, thankfully) - so they must have some budget. No excuses North Shore Animal League - get some promotional pet products ASAP.... and no excuses dog-lovers - get out there and adopt an animal :)