By Lylia Saurel
Special to The Roosevelt Island Daily News
A report from Shelter Animal Count shows that shelters have observed an overall increase in population nationwide by 9.5% over the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period last year. The report also shows that gross intake, which represents the population of animals borned, transferred or relinquished by owners to centers, increased by 8.3% for canines alone.
Two years after a boom in pet adoption during the pandemic, millions of companion animals are now placed in shelters awaiting adoption. Ivory, a five year old white labradoodle from Dutchess County, New York, is one of them.
Ivory’s journey brought her to Dutchess County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals last month. Born in Lima, Peru, as “Bailey” she lost her home when her owner lacked time for the loving care all domestic animals need. She is currently fostered by Jim Luce, 63, founder of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, and sponsor of the New York Shih Tzu Rescue Society and is the object of affection for his team of interns for the summer.
“She has traveled more than I have,” jokes an intern.
After spending around a month at the center, she arrived in Roosevelt Island on July 12, 2022 and quickly found her favorite spot in the apartment, by the water bowl in the kitchen. In addition to the 18 students she meets each week, she is surrounded by six other rescue dogs that Luce has saved over the years.
Carol Grittlow, the intake manager at DCSPCA, contacted Luce about Ivory in the hope to find her a lifelong home. As a blind but very calm dog, Ivory needs a loving family who will have time to care for her and love to spread. She is currently underweight and shy at first but friendly to anyone who is around her.
“When she first arrived, she would roll up into a ball in her dog bed, although she would stick her head out to eat and drink. After a few days she stood up, giraffe-like, and explored the apartment one step at a time. By the third day we were able to walk her outside and today she happily trots along with our other dogs, three times a day,” said Luce.
Grittlow explains that she started working in the field unexpectedly when a fire burned down her apartment and she needed a temporary home for her two dogs. She placed them at the DCSPCA until she could care for them again, and as she visited them weekly and spent time with rescues there, she was offered a job.
Ten years later she continues her mission to find loving homes for the companion animals from the center, but explains that it is often more complicated to find both foster and lifelong homes for dogs, especially Pitbulls and larger dogs.
“Oftentimes it is easier to foster cats than dogs, and if the temporary care doesn’t lead to an adoption the animals are placed back in the shelter,” she says.
The main issues that cause owners to abandon their pets are evictions and the cost of medical bills that people cannot always afford. According to a 2020 VetNatural report the average cost of veterinary bills in the first year of owning a dog is around $590.
Another problem that dog owners face is when moving to a new apartment and dealing with landlords who don’t accept animals. Grittlow says it is common for dog owners to be asked for a pet deposit of up to $400 by landlords as a dissuasive means to move in with canines.
“This results in applicants either putting their pet up for adoption or refusing the apartment,” she says.
Until the center finds the animals a family and to make sure they remain entertained, Grittlow says that pets benefit from enrichment, which consists of treatboxes, puzzle boxes, play groups and walks.
Founded in 2018, the New York Shih Tzu Rescue Society is a project of The N.Y. Global Leader Lions & Leos Club with a mission to promote this Asian breed and find loving families for dogs in need. The club promotes canine rescue in support of animals and fostering kindness and compassion. Luce, who sponsors the club, sees the project as “a training and development program for young leaders focused on responsibility.”
Ivory is available to a home on or near Roosevelt Island. Please text your email address to Jim Luce at 347-316-7087 to request the New York Shih Tzu Rescue Society application.
“She is perhaps the most gentle and loving dog we have ever had and will make a patient person working from home an unusually fantastic companion,” said Luce.