Facing reduced staff and volunteer support in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, animal welfare organizations across the country have been working diligently to find foster homes for animals in their care. Fortunately, many generous people are answering the call. The ASPCA has seen a nearly 70 percent increase in animals going into foster care through its New York City and Los Angeles foster programs, where nearly 250 animals are currently in foster homes.
“Our foster teams have been working non-stop throughout this crisis,” explained Eileen Hanavan, ASPCA Director of Volunteer and Foster Engagement. “They’re providing ongoing support to our foster caregivers, as well as finding placement for animals.”
One of those fortunate animals is Madeleine, a 10-month-old pit bull who went home with Stacey Rozell, an ASPCA Matchmaker, on March 20, just after the ASPCA Adoption Center closed its doors to the public because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Originally transferred to the ASPCA from Animal Care Center of NYC’s Manhattan location on February 20, Madeleine had a mild skin infection and a urinary tract infection, which ASPCA staff treated with antibiotics.
“When Madeleine was at the Adoption Center, I noticed she was being overlooked by potential adopters, day after day, so I brought her home with me. I didn’t want her to be in our shelter any longer,” said Stacey.
Stacey crate and house-trained Madeleine and taught her social skills and obedience features that would increase Madeleine’s appeal to potential adopters. Madeleine’s young age and high energy level also indicated that she would probably benefit from a home with existing dogs.
“Madeleine loves everyone and every dog she meets,” Stacey said. “But she hardly gave me any personal space. She had to be on top of me all the time.”
Finding a Match
Stacey and her mother, Lori, who’ve been rescuing and fostering dogs since Stacey was in middle school, remembered a man with whom Lori had once placed a fostered dog. That man was Michael T. of College Point, Queens.
“We kept in touch with Michael over the years and learned he was looking for another pit bull to add to his pack,” Stacey said. “I knew that Madeleine would be the perfect match.”
“I was ready to get another dog and had started to spread the word,” says Michael, a machinist for NYC’s Department of Environmental Protection. “I already had two other dogs and cat, and was in no hurry, but I’m used to having three dogs at a time.”
Michael, a lifelong animal lover who likes to name his dogs after Greek goddesses—in honor of his Greek heritage—lost one of his dogs, Athena, last year.
“I take it hard when I lose a pet,” says Michael. “They’re like children to me. They love unconditionally.”
Michael met Madeleine and adopted her on April 8, just days before Easter. He renamed her Betty, after Mike’s late mother, Beatriz, who died last year.
“Betty’s a joy,” reports Michael, “And she’s a puppy, so we have a good 10 years, at least, ahead of us.”
A Family of Furry Friends
Betty’s new family includes two female pit bull-mixes: Nike, age 10, and Aphrodite, three; as well as Kitty-Kitty, a 13-year-old gray-and-white tabby.
“They’re all different,” Michael says of his pack, “But they get along great. Aphrodite will give me half a lick, Nike a full lick, but Betty is a licking machine. And if anything, she takes the other dogs’ lead.”
Michael says having four-legged family members helps him get through this stressful time of social distancing, staying at home and cancelled events.
“Having no sports right now and being home on weekends is tough,” Michael admits. “But with them around it’s great. During this pandemic, they’ve saved my life.”
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