Ivett is a 2-year old papillon mix. Banks, a deaf American bulldog, was abandoned in Edgewood Park in early January. They both may stand a better chance of finding a real home now that their temporary quarters at the New Haven Animal Shelter were repainted and spiffed up with more amenities this weekend.
On Sunday morning dozens of volunteers like Melissa Izzo, imbued with the conviction that pet companionship changes life for the better, labored to convey that with paint brushes and new designs. They said they believe a spiffier shelter will lead to more adoptions.
They fashioned dog portraits to decorate what had been antiseptic walls, added inviting murals, and created an indoor alcove for the canines to socialize in winter the better to meet prospective new owners.
Izzo became a volunteer a year ago after she adopted a pit bull shepherd mix. She named him Goblin. Now “he brings joy every single day. [He conveys the spirit that] every second is an adventure. Every day is the best day. I cannot stress that enough.”
The cinder block shelter on Fournier Street behind the Southern campus was built in 1958. It functions as part of the police department; it is presided over by Animal Control Officer Stephany Johnson.
She permits a loyal crew of some 75 volunteers to come in to socialize the dogs through walking, to take them off site for exercise, and to travel to adoption events around the area, with considerable success.
“Over 2,000 animals come through here [annually]. 75 percent are adopted. It should be 100 percent,” said Sarah Oren (in the story’s top photo), who organized the volunteer effort with her mom. “Our volunteers are working hard to make our animals adoptable and our shelter more appealing.”
Oren added that compared to other municipally run shelters, where euthanasia is used more frequently, New Haven’s is a good place where “only the most aggressive [and therefore unadoptable] dogs” are put to sleep. Those that don’t find homes get transferred to non-kill rescue agencies in the area.
On Friday Ivett’s cage neighbor Cinnamon was adopted. Oren said even though Banks is deaf, that shouldn’t ultimately interfere with his becoming someone’s lifelong pal. She said a deaf dog can learn a kind of canine sign language. “He’s very trainable. Only it takes extra effort with symbols” she said.
Another volunteer, Jeannie Ranalli, said that ironically “the dogs who are here the longest tend to get the best homes.”
That’s because the volunteers often get to know the longer lodgers best, post photos, comments, and even videos of the animals on the website. People looking for pets follow that info, and that leads to connections that in turn lead to adoptions.
Next on the list of improvements: The shelter needs a plumber to volunteer to improve the hot-cold mixture at the faucets where the dogs are washed. And a new linoleum floor that can be easily washed and disinfected would also be nice.
To learn more, to volunteer, and or to adopt, check out the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter website for information. Or call former friends’ President and current volunteer Delette Corwel at 203-407-8304