By Jennifer Corr and Mike Adams
Brookhaven Animal Shelter is offering free adoptions April 1-8 during its “Adoption Egg-stravaganza” event as part of a yearlong series of free adoption events at the shelter.
For every animal that is adopted during the event, the shelter will cover the adoption fee, the spay neuter fee, rabies vaccine, booster shots, Bordetella, a Kennel Cough, vaccine for dogs, fecal test, heartworm test, treatment and preventative care for fleas and ticks, a microchip and a license for those who live in Brookhaven. Normally an adoption would cost $137 for a dog and $125 for a cat.
“We just do it [free events] and try to get their faces out there, get people interested, and to get awareness out there that there are all these animals here looking for homes,” Jonnie Coe-LaRosa, a worker at the animal shelter, said.
The 2018 special events commenced with “Irish I had a Pet”, a free adoption event on March 16-17 with a Saint Patrick’s Day theme. Among the attendees was Stephanie Armes, an aunt, helping her family find a companion for her young niece. Armes is passionate about finding a home for rescue dogs and cats instead of buying an animal from a store.
“I would rather give a dog that’s maybe had a hard life a really loving home,” Armes said. She teared up. “I’ve adopted all my pets. I’ve never bought from a store.”
A Google search can map out 16 puppy stores across Long Island. Local puppy stores like the American Dog Club at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove have been investigated for selling sick dogs.
“Those people [puppy mill breeders] are not interested in the breed or what’s best for them,” Coe-LaRosa said. “It’s all money making and pet stores are the same way. Your best bet is to adopt, whether it’s from a shelter or from a rescue group, because we here feel like we put our heart and soul into them.”
Brought to its current location in 1984 under the auspices of the Brookhaven town government, the shelter is currently home to 75 dogs and cats. Over 90 percent of the animals the shelter takes in are strays, shelter director Ashley Boyd said, and could pose significant issues for the township if they were left to roam.
“It’s illegal for a dog to be running loose, there’s leash laws in the state of New York,” Boyd said. “We keep them safe here, not getting hit by cars. And we keep the public safe making sure there’s not just stray dogs running around.”
The majority of the dog population at the animal shelter are Terriers and Pitbull mixes, Karen Aguilar, an animal control officer and supervisor, said.
Pitbulls were once considered popular pets until the 1980s when dog fighting made a comeback and the breed was used as a guard dog for gangs and drug dealers. A highly publicized Pitbull attack on a two-year-old led to legislation and apartment policies targeting the breed.
“A lot of it [misconceptions] has to do with people’s lack of effort or time put into them,” Aguilar said. “They really are just like any other breed, but you need to put in training just like any other dog. You need to socialize them. You need to put a lot of exercise into them and you will come out with a friendly family dog.”
Prospective adopters are put through a thorough vetting process before they can take an animal home from the shelter. Chelsea Straw and Joseph Loper, a couple from Brookhaven, finished the screening process and got to meet their new terrier mix, Abby, on Saturday.
“I’ve been looking at Abby for about eight or nine months now,” Straw said. “She is just the sweetest little sweetheart. I love her, I’m very excited to bring her home.”