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Love Comes in Many Forms-Some Four Legged

Thinking about adopting a pet? Consider why shelter pets are best!

I have helped raise money and awareness for a lot of charities and causes throughout my life, but the one that has always meant the most to me is animal adoption and prevention of cruelty. I am and always will be an animal person.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to consider adoption when looking for a pet. Spring is the time of year that many people look for a new furry family member, and while choosing that adorable purebred may be wonderful, there are shelters all over Long Island that are filled with cats and dogs that need good homes.

I witnessed this sad truth just last year, when my sisters and I helped my mom rescue a cat from the woods surrounding the Kings Park Psychiatric Center. On her morning run, a large tabby came jumping out of the woods, meowing and visibly ill. He was so skinny you could count his ribs, and yet it was immediately clear that what he was really hungry for was love.

After taking him home and providing him with food and water, we began to look for an owner or a shelter. He was wearing a collar, but we had a sneaking suspicion that he had been dumped where we found him. And calling every shelter on Long Island proved unsuccessful; they had so many cats waiting for homes that not one shelter could take in just one more cat. And so, Harley became ours, if only for a few weeks. He had stomach cancer, the vet said. Just give him a comfortable home to live out his life. Harley passed just three weeks after we found him, but he did so surrounded by love and warmth, not alone in a shelter or the woods.

It was a good feeling to rescue Harley, just as it was to take in both of the other cats that currently reside with my parents. A love of animals has been instilled in me since birth, and so it was no surprise to anyone when just a month and a half ago, I was able to convince my boyfriend that we should go to North Shore Animal League’s Valentine’s Day event, “just to look.” I had talked about getting a cat since the day we moved in together, and while he is an animal lover himself, he had some reservations. Having never owned a pet, he wasn’t sure what would come with being a new pet parent.

As it turns out, he was a bigger softie that I was. Once the large black cat came up to him at North Shore, he was sold. We filed for adoption, and went through a rigorous and hours long process of calling references, our landlord, and speaking with the veterinarians. Finally, they said we could take our new charge home.

As I write this on a Saturday afternoon, there is a large black cat taking a snooze in a little bed placed on the end of our couch. The windows are wide open, because Spielberg loves to watch the squirrels and birds as they flit around our small yard. We kept the name Spielberg from North Shore, because we like to call him our little director. He loves to know what everyone is doing all the time, and you can’t leave a room with a little ghost at your heels.

He is only 11 months old, but he is larger than most cats are as adults. We think he is part Bombay, but we will never know for sure. And you know what? When he comes at you first thing in the morning, copper eyes wide, and snuggles into your side, his breed and his past shelter life don’t matter. If you really want to know love, adopt a shelter pet.

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Tom Gillen March 28, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Great stuff, Alyssa! This hit close to home. I'd also suggest that people avoid pet store animals. Many of those animals are from mills.
Alyssa DiGregorio March 29, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Absolutely! Thankfully, Facebook just got rid of puppy mill ads, and many other online sites are being pushed to do the same. It is so sad to hear about the conditions of the animals that come from these places. So glad to hear from another animal lover!
Dave Adams March 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM
The Labs in my photo (Molly & Sadie) are rescues from a North Carolina pound. If anyone is looking to adopt a lab (or labs) this is a GREAT site. http://www.lab-retriever.net/board/rescue-adoption-listings/ They hooked me up totally and even arranged to have a volunteer pilot fly them up here for me. There are SO many dogs that need loving homes, please adopt!!!
Laura DiGregorio April 18, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Spoken from the heart Alyssa. So proud of you and your conviction to help homeless animals. Our pets have always been ones that have come to us. I would of course encourage everyone to go to the shelters. There are many dogs and cats at shelters, living in foster homes waiting for their permanent family to adopt them. There is a great adoption site for cats called LIkitties.com. The cats are in foster homes.The problem is that new litters of kittens are going to be born and the "kittens" that have been waiting for their forever home are now full grown cats. They are the best to adopt because they are litter trained, have been through their kitten shots and are also old enough to be neutered. Please, Please adopt your pet, whether a cat or dog, just adopt!!!!

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