Banks and Ivett Get Their House Painted

Allan Appel PhotoIvett 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

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posted by: Woof on February 14, 2011  9:29am

new haven would have a higher adoption rate if the majority of their dogs werent pitbulls.  Sad but true…...

posted by: Melissa on February 14, 2011  10:03am

While we do get a lot of pit bulls, we get other breeds as well- even purebreds. Not to mention that pit bulls are often wonderful dogs who get a bad repuatation due to a some bad owners. They can be the most loving, eager to please, and affectionate dogs in the world. I encourage anyone looking for a dog to visit the New Haven Animal Shelter and let our dogs- the pit bulls included- melt your heart themselves!

posted by: robn on February 14, 2011  10:18am


Its not so much the breed but the training. A very interesting point is revealed on the Wikipedia Pit Bull page…in separate 20 year studies, Pit Bulls accounted for 32% of dog bite fatalities in the US, but only 4% of dog bit fatalities in Canada. An easy conclusion can be drawn that the underground dog-fight industry in the US is culprit.

And if the shelter identifies an aggressive animal it puts the animal down. Terriers are a very diverse breed and can be extremely sweet, loving animals. Plus rescues are past puppy stage, have an established temperament, and don’t pee in the house or chew on table legs and books (hopefully).

posted by: Awesomepants on February 14, 2011  11:13am

Pit Bull Terriers score better on temperament tests than the general dog population.

posted by: To Robn on February 14, 2011  7:19pm

Well I guess if Wikipedia said it it must be absolute fact! If you’re going to cite a source try to make it a reputable source that can’t be edited by any random user of the world wide web!!!

posted by: robn on February 14, 2011  9:25pm


Wikipedia doesn’t work the way you suppose. The figures I mention are sourced from ...

the Center for Disease Control


the Canadian Veterinary Journal

Gravitas enough for ya?