Newtown residents Monica Roberto and Kim Coleman had a dream – to establish a sanctuary to care for, house and assist in the adoption of homeless and neglected animals.
For the last five years, their organization, The Animal Center, has worked tirelessly to achieve this goal.
Roberto and Coleman began the journey by establishing a cat rescue program. To date, The Animal Center, with their legions of volunteer members and supporters, have placed or cared for more than 1,500 cats and kittens. The success of this program is a testament to the tremendous dedication of this group.
In March of this year, The Animal Center took another a step closer to its goal, establishing the dog adoption program, the next phase in its animal rescue journey.
What makes this program unique is that all the dogs rescued for this program are from kill-shelters slated for euthanasia. Every dog adopted from The Animal Center saves a dog’s life, sometimes within hours of being put down.
Because The Animal Center does not yet have a physical facility to house the endless stream of dogs needing homes, all dogs brought into the program are placed in foster homes awaiting adoption.
“The most heartbreaking aspect right now is that we don’t have enough foster homes," said The Animal Center Dog Adoption program director, Newtown resident, Leyla Nichols. “We are desperately seeking foster families in the area to open their homes for these dogs short term, sometimes just days. These are highly adoptable dogs who would otherwise be euthanized.”
All the dogs are completely vetted, receive all of their shots and have been spayed or neutered.
In every case Nichols brings the dogs to her home for the first day to temperament test and evaluate them.
“Each dog placed in foster is evaluated on their acceptance to dogs, cats and kids, as well as food and toy aggression tendencies so that perfect foster placements can be made," she said.
Every foster family is provided with all necessary supplies, including food, crates, vet care, behavior training if needed.
“Foster families do not have to extend themselves financially in any way,” said Nichols.
Foster families are needed to give these dogs, mostly puppies, some love, attention and a semblance of family life until their forever homes can be located.
In the few months since the program began, 14 dogs have been adopted, an amazing success rate for a newly established rescue program.
One of these success stories is right here in Newtown.
Rebecca Fahlin moved to the area a few month ago with her husband and 11 year-old daughter, Rachael.
“I promised Rachael that when we bought a house, we would get her a puppy.” said Fahlin.
Checking petfinders.com was all it took. Fahlin saw photos on the Petfinder’s website of Lois and her sister Lana, two young puppies that were in a kill shelter slated to be euthanized.
“It was an immediate reaction,” said Fahlin. “I knew one of the sisters would be mine. But since my husband had a never owned a dog and we have a parrot, we decided we’d better foster the puppy just to be sure it was a good match for all of us.”
The Animal Center gave the family the support they needed, she said.
“Lelya and The Animal Center were amazing,” said Fahlin. “They provided everything we needed for Lois when we fostered her: crates, food, even puppy toys.”
The plan worked and Lois is now a permanent fixture in the Fahlin household. (Lois’s sister Lana was also adopted by an area family.)
“Leyla continues to check on Lois’s progress and answers any questions we have. Working with The Animal Center and adopting Lois has been a wonderful experience for the whole family.” said Fahlin.
And, don’t forget that The Animal Center also has cats available for adoption.
Keep little Candy in mind as May approaches. This beautiful kitten had to have her leg amputated due to an injury and will be ready to go to forever home in the next week. What a great Mother’s Day gift she would be!
In Memoriam: With all that she has on her plate trying to keep these dogs from being euthanized, Leyla Nichols's 12 year-old rescued pit, Stella, passed away this week from kidney failure.
Stella was a wonderful, sweet angel of a dog and an integral part of the Nichols family where she spent all of her 12 years. She will be missed by all who knew her.