Take Shelter

There’s nothing like a rescued animal to pry open your heart. I see proof of this all the time whenever I ask an owner if their pet was adopted.

The animal has more spring in their step along with an eagerness to please. A dog bought from a breeder has none of that unless it’s from a puppy mill of which there are many. If people would only stop going to breeders it would help the homeless situation tremendously. Imagine not having to put down healthy animals any longer because they all found homes.

I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt that said: Euthanize breeders not dogs. I followed him three blocks in awe.

A shelter animal knows when it’s been given a second chance and has no qualms showing it. They love you, paws down, for taking them in.

I met a pit in the Park today named Lila who was playing ball with her owner Ben. I stopped as I often do to ask if I can pet the dog. Ben said, “Sure, Lila loves making new friends.”

I sat on the grass for a good scratching behind the ears session while Ben told me Lila’s story.

She belonged to a bi-coastal actor who, out of respect, will remain nameless. When he traveled he’d leave Lila at his vets with the understanding that she’d be walked for an hour twice a day apparently paying handsomely for it.

Turns out they left her in her crate without even taking her out at all, even quickly. Do the math on that one. Only when this guy was due to come get her would they clean Lila up and take her out.

A young intern was the one who blew the whistle on this particular establishment, thank God. If I knew who he was I’d send flowers.

The actor realized that Lila needed a more stable home so he found Ben through Petfinders. That story, though ending happily, disturbed me greatly. A vet no less who touts himself a healer abused this beautiful girl who by the way was already rescued once before. Think of the damage she withstood yet here she is, with the heart of a lion, forgiving the world; a lesson to the rest of us.

Ben, who looked like a movie star himself, told me he was very depressed before he got Lila. “It was more like she rescued me,” he said. “When I heard what happened to her it made me forget all about most of the stuff that was bothering me.”

I left the two of them heavyhearted not due to sadness but inspiration.

Made me think of my friend Jennifer and her rescued pit Anthony who moved away recently. She said he loves Brooklyn except for the garbage trucks on Mondays and Fridays; the noise frightens him.    

I thought of my other pal Jed’s pit, Oscar who had to take puppy-Prozac to calm his nerves because he was so fearful of noise.    

As long as I live I will never comprehend abuse of any kind especially towards anything that can’t defend itself: be it a kid, the elderly or an animal.

The definition of naivete’ is innocence or unsophistication.

Who knew I suffered from both.

Adopt, Don’t Buy…



About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in animals, Family, friendship, Gratitude, Love, New York City, Women and men, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Take Shelter

  1. My good friend Susanne rescued a Pit named Chole, who does not have front legs. Chole actually has a personality that is somewhat snobbish so Susanne always puts her in something pink and she wears a tiara when she goes for a walk in her stroller. You would LOVE Chole and her royal personality! She sits in her stroller and looks out as if she’s saying…”I may not have hands, but dammit I have class.”
    ps. Susanne is all of 5ft tall and would take out anyone, of any size who dared to hurt an animal.


  2. Jed says:

    What a wonderful piece! And that cameo, mein Gott.
    Euthanize breeders, not dogs, indeed.


  3. Anthony says:

    Thanks Susannah for advocating on behalf of me and my rescue brothers and sisters! I sadly understand that some humans are ignorant about the millions of homeless animals stuck in shelters or being euthanized due to the shear numbers, but those that ARE aware and still go to breeders or pet stores, just seem callous and selfish to me. It makes me think of my mom’s favorite quote by George Bernard Shaw, “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them, that’s the definition of inhumanity”. Anyway.. thanks for spreading the word about us. Love, Anthony


    • So great to hear from you Anthony. I hear you love Brooklyn and can’t say I blame you. I love it too. The Bridge, Brighton Beach, the Botanical Gardens. I also know you’re the poster pup for UAA advocating for all of your buddies. Miss you round the corner.


  4. Rob says:

    “Eagerness to please”. I found a rabbit abandoned in his hutch and left to die of thirst. I took him home and called him Lucky. After I’d nursed him back to health and vitality he repaid me by biting my hand off! OK, that’s an exaggeration but Lucky was a violent little bastard who would flay anyone who came near him. I most certainly do not approve of leaving an animal to die a slow, painful death but I can’t help but wonder if Lucky might have contributed to his plight. Conversely, I suppose the kind of moron who could treat an animal that way could also be responsible for brutalising him. I guess we’ll never know.


    • I was just railed by a woman I really like over my post. The reason animals bite are usually because they’re abused. Some of them are put down because of it – very heartbreaking indeed. When they rescued all of those Michael Vick dogs most of them were put down except for the ones you heard about that were adoptable. I know dogs, cats, and rabbits aren’t always animals you can live with. Abuse is a terrible thing. I still wish people would adopt including the woman who wrote to me today, something I never told her. How quickly she came after me. Shocking to me really. One more relationship that will never be the same. I’ll tell you Rob, the cheese stands alone. I’m always interested in what you have to say since you have the gift of tact. Sorry about that rabbit. Truly.


      • Rob says:

        Lucky lived to a ripe old age in health and comfort, but he didn’t get many cuddles. Of course, I agree whole-heartedly with you on the abuse issue. I will never understand the mentality of the twats who perpetrate it: mayhap, I don’t want to.
        You are a beacon Susannah: keep spreading the word! Not everyone will agree but we both know that you’re right.


      • I hate being right and I blame Jennifer who told me too much. Did you read her comment? That’s the trouble with consciousness, once you own it it’s yours.


      • Rob says:

        I did read her comment and I think she has a point. I don’t think the two of you are really disagreeing with one another. Without breeders, there would be no dogs in twenty years. Without rescue farms, there would be a lot more suffering. Reputable breeders won’t give a dog to just anyone and take an interest in welfare. Disreputable breeders are only interested in a quick profit. I’ve never heard of a disreputable rescue farm but I suppose it’s possible. The big problem is disreputable owners! Eliminate them and the whole problem disappears.


      • Rob says:

        Sorry, I’m confusing Katherine with Jennifer but I think you can see where I’m coming from.


      • Of course I do. And despite Lucky’s disposition, he was a very ‘lucky’ little rabbit.


  5. gmg says:

    I have three rescue cats. They are the best!! Thanks for spreading the word.


  6. Katherine Boyle says:

    I think to equate breeders with puppy mills is a mistake, unfair and very risky. They are two different beasts. To say you don’t get a spring in the step and an eagerness to please in a dog bought from a breeder is just wrong. Sorry, Susannah, i think you are well out of order here. Dogs with an eager to please personality, wherever they are from, are, er, eager to please. Rescue dogs simply do not have the monopoly on that trait. I have personally met, and know of many more dogs adopted from rescue organizations who do not display an eagerness to please. I met at the weekend a man who, along with his wife, got a dog from a rescue organisation and he and his wife have been bitten half a dozen times by the dog. It is a troubled and disturbed animal that they are not equipped to handle, despite their good, kind hearts and love of dogs. Taking on the responsibility to care for a dog when you are I’ll equipped to do so, for whatever reason, is extremely risky. It’s a convenient sound bite to say euthanize breeders but if that happened there would be no Dougal. As you know he is eager to please with a jaunty spring in his step. We went to a breeder because as virgin dog owners we felt that we really needed to know what we were getting. Had we got a rescue dog that we couldn’t handle that wouldn’t have been fair on the dog.
    Getting a rescue dog is brilliant but not for everyone.


    • The last thing I would ever want to do is insult you and frankly Katherine, the depth of your snap surprises me. I’m not a big fan of purchasing animals and I hope you noticed that I have never said an unkind word to you about the fact that you bought a dog. I’ve always loved Dougal and hearing about him however I’ve also learned of the plight of the homeless animal that dies because no one wants it. I have never thrown a stone at you the way you just did at me. Perhaps you could have addressed it in an email to me since, well, I thought we were friends. There are ways to disagree a little more diplomatic than your comment.


    • Jennifer says:

      Katherine- It’s a shame that you didn’t research rescue groups and adopting as much as you did breeders. You could have saved a lovely dog’s life instead of lining the pocket of some breeder, who should get a real job. Responsible breeding is an oxymoron while 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized EACH YEAR. Not because they are aggressive… the primary reasons are due to the lack of loving and open minded homes, people not spaying/neutering their pets and people dumping their dogs or cats for some ridiculous reason of convenience. I run a small rescue group in NYC and have sadly seen it all. We have found over 200 successful homes for dogs and cats over the past 4 years. We have only had 2 situations where we had to re-home, which we extend to our adopters in the event the match is not a good fit. Most rescue groups do this. There are even breed specific rescue groups if you really need a pure bred. In addition, rescue groups FOSTER animals from shelters prior to adopting out, so they know their temperament much better than even a breeder would of a 2 month old puppy. Not all animals from breeders are slam-dunks. And to think ALL rescue dogs are aggressive or lemons is as silly as thinking that all people of color are criminals. I’m sure Dougal is sweet and loving as my rescue pit bull, but please consider adoption the next time around. It’s not only for you… its for a homeless animal that will be forever grateful. The feeling one gets from saving an animal is priceless. I can only hope that you will experience this one day… hopefully sooner rather than later…. maybe Dougal wants a 4-legged companion?? All the Best…. and remember to adopt…not shop- Jen


      • I so appreciate you writing this. Education is the way to go. I knew so little about what really goes on until I met you. I’ll admit there are some things I wish I didn’t know since the cruelty factor is so high, but it opened my heart even wider.

        Thanks so much for all the amazing work that you and UAA does. And special thanks to Anthony who makes me smile from ear to ear.


  7. Jed says:

    Clearly, Katherine Boyle, aside from, I assume, feeling guilty
    regarding Dougal’s provenance (if you will), is utterly ignorant
    when it comes to rescuing animals. When she refers to the
    danger factor, it’s absurd given that any dog from ANYWHERE
    can be “dangerous”. Every self-respecting shelter puts their
    animals through numerous behavioral trials and tests prior to
    allowing any person to take them.
    Katherine obviously wanted a dog from a breeder (purebred, possibly?)
    and that’s her right. But when you consider the number of
    homeless/starving/violently abused pets, in this cruel and indifferent world,
    to put it mildly, this is a deeply unattractive trait.


    • Thanks Jed, I love that you wrote this since no one knows with the exception of maybe Jennifer, more than you on this subject. It’s such a hot issue and for the record, I have 2 other friends, one you know, who bought dogs. Again, I didn’t say anything, not my place since I truly try to live and let live but it bothered me. Thanks again for weighing in.


  8. Katherine Boyle says:

    I thought about emailing you but decided against it as I thought my point of view was not represented by the discussion thus far. And I believed that as you have every right to have your point of view represented, then my view can be represented too. And as friends, I thought you would be OK with that. I did not throw a stone, nor did I snap. I was reasonable and used none inflammatory language. I also made an effort to keep the tone of my response measured. Your post only represented your point of view and you made it very very strongly. And that is absolutely fine and your right. That’s what a blog is for. But surely I have a right to respond to the same audience you made your point to? I believe that audience should hear this viewpoint as well as yours. That’s why I replied on the blog rather than privately to you.
    Accept my reply in the spirit in which it was made- as part of a discussion where we both have the right to our opinion and still be friends. I never considered breaking a friendship because your beliefs on this topic differ from mine. Hopefully you won’t want to do that because I disagreed with you.


    • I am perfectly happy any day of the week to agree to disagree. You along with everyone else has the right to your opinion. However, I would have preferred less bite, if I may use a word of yours. I’m not a fan of buying animals but choose to teach by demonstration more than attack which is why I would never say anything to you or anyone else who chooses to purchase over adopting. But I will hope that perhaps one day you’d see the harm in it. By the way, there is a site for every and any breed on the planet that have lost their homes for reasons other than abuse. People get sick and can’t keep them, they move to buildings that don’t allow pets. One can get the animal of their choice without spending 1000s of dollars.


  9. Love your post, Susannah. Louis (the feral kitty who rescued me in NY) is waiting for breakfast so I’ll be brief. A dear friend of mine who cheated death thrice twelve years ago and is still learning to walk was hell-bent on getting a dog. As soon as he was able, he wheeled himself to the local shelter every day for three weeks to ‘audition’ dogs until he found Chachi, the most loving dog I have ever met.

    Chachi keeps such huge love and hope alive in my friend’s heart, it still fills me with joy.

    Thank you for helping raise awareness about adopting homeless pets, Susannah, more creatures and humans appreciate this than you will ever know.


  10. D. D. Syrdal says:

    As you said, reputable shelters should and usually do screen animals for temperament before they are adopted out. I’m sure some, like the one Katherine references, slip through the screening, or perhaps that shelter didn’t do what it should to place the dog with adoptive parents that were a good match. It’s a shame. Also, a reputable shelter should be willing to take the animal back if it doesn’t work out. Maybe they should return the dog and hope he finds a more suitable home that can deal with any behavioral problems he may have.

    PetFinder is a great resource, even if you want a purebred dog. So many are abandoned or mistreated and find their way to shelters. They list what kind of home the animal (dog or cat) needs, whether they can be around other animals, or maybe just not cats, if they’re good with small children, etc. Honestly, that actor who kept leaving the dog in kennels has a lifestyle that really doesn’t accommodate having a dog anyway. I don’t like to think of them as ‘pets’ because that’s when they become disposable. They’re either part of the family or they shouldn’t be there. That’s why I don’t have a dog right now. I know I don’t have the time to devote to one. The last time I had a dog I wasn’t working and he went everywhere with me: around town on errands (he loved riding in the car), to the beach, came along when I went roller-blading, etc. Now that I’m gone from home 12 hours a day, I don’t know how I’d manage to properly care for a dog.


    • Well Dame, seems I’ve ruffled a feather or two. Cruelty, that’s the wound I was writing from. The stories of how many healthy dogs and cats who get put down every day in New York alone is staggering. I can’t hear the statistics that Jennifer and Jed know so well because I take to my bed in tears. If only more people would at least try to adopt from Petfinders or a local shelter. All of those animals, Traveller the cat and her 3 kittens, Nikki, Bella and Stuart the 3 pits Jennifer had, all were adopted from Petfinders. Very reputable site and yes, if an animal and a person find that they can’t live together happily then they should part ways humanely. Thanks, as always.


  11. rheath40 says:

    Hi there. I want that guy’s t-shirt! Every dog I’ve ever had I’ve rescued. There is something about them that makes me want to save them. I wish I could save them all. Besides my husband and children, my greatest love is a dog. When Roger and I first married we had a home for wayward Schnauzers. We love the little, yappy poop heads. They are so expressive and loving. Plus they are great velcro dogs. They want to be on your lap or laying beside you in bed. I can’t imagine my life without an animal in it. They complete me. And when the day has been particularly shitty and you don’t want to talk anyone, you can hug your dog. They don’t talk back. They sit and listen. Snuggle and let you bawl all over them without the slightest look of distaste of the fact that your nose is running. Thank you for your post today. I loved it.


    • I knew I’d hear from you. Renee, all I can say is that I hope one day more hearts fly open on this subject. Sadly the more people buy the more they’ll breed and the heartbreak of euthanizing animals will go on. It’s so upsetting to me. When I think of all the rescues I’ve met that would have been put down if they weren’t adopted, including Anthony and Oscar.


      • rheath40 says:

        I know what you mean. My son recently rescued a gorgeous six year old malamute. The couple were getting divorced and the wife gave him to a kill shelter. He was 12 hours from death and my son stepped in. He brought me the lovely dog to groom, and then set about the task of finding him a home. In 48 hours Dakota had a new family to love and care for him. I was so proud of Adam for what he did. I know he will continue to do rescues.


      • I love that story. How could they bring him to a kill shelter? Weren’t they attached to him at all? Omigod. I love Adam, please tell him I am in awe of what he did.


      • rheath40 says:

        The wife hated the dog. I don’t know what was up with the husband. No idea why he let her take him to a shelter. I will be sure to let Adam know that you’re proud of what he did. I know he will do this over and over. Meggie has done it too. They should have big hearts when it comes to dogs. We’ve always had them and have always expressed the importance of rescuing. Take care Susannah.


      • D. D. Syrdal says:

        I’ve heard horror stories like that, where the couple had the dog put down because they couldn’t decide who should have it after the divorce. Unbelievable. People like that need to be chipped and never again allowed to have any animals.


      • I second that. Anthony the pit third.


  12. kerrycooks says:

    Our first dog was adopted from a rescue centre and he was the greatest dog ever. I cannot for the life of me understand people who will pay hundreds or thousands of pounds for a dog when there are ones waiting for loving homes. ❤ this post.


  13. Pingback: HOPE « Life With The Top Down

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