Category: Rescue

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Fate uncertain for 15 former fighting pit bulls

Fate uncertain for 15 former fighting pit bulls

Originally published: March 28, 2013 11:41 AM
Updated: March 28, 2013 8:58 PM


Most of the 15 pit bulls sat nameless in cages outside the shelter.

Some of the animals, seized in January and simply labeled evidence while awaiting the outcome of a criminal dogfighting case, were scarred, had open sores and visibly shook. Unlike non-fighting dogs named Oreo, Egypt or Sunny also housed at the North Hempstead-run shelter in Port Washington, the pit bulls have been deemed unavailable for adoption and face an uncertain future.

Though vets check the dogs weekly, shelter director Sue Hassett said, no date has been set for their release, and experts say the path to recovery is winding and uncertain.

“Until the court clears them, they’re kind of in limbo,” she said. But “they’re hanging in there; this is probably the best they’ve ever had it” since police recovered them from an alleged dogfighting ring in a New Cassel woman’s backyard.

The Nassau County district attorney’s office declined to comment on case specifics.

On a cold morning last week, some of the dogs, from 6 months to several years old, paced their steel cages. Some were loud, others quiet during the outdoor break.

Based on history, according to animal and legal experts, the dogs’ outcomes may vary, too.

“They’re like fine athletes; they’re in training to fight and that’s what their job is,” said Sandra DeFeo, executive director of the Humane Society of New York. “If they’re trained to kill . . . do you want them?”

John Byrne, a Nassau district attorney spokesman, said in an email that the office “has worked closely with leading experts . . . to assess these animals and to provide them with the best possible future.”

However, “many fighting dogs cannot be safely adopted due to the barbaric training they’ve been subjected to,” he said. “. . . We anticipate that these animals — all victims of horrific abuse — will not be available for public adoption.”

Professional handlers, recalling past dogfighting cases, told tales of triumph and tragedy.

“The older dogs, once they are accustomed to fighting, it is very difficult to rehabilitate [them],” said Roy Gross of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “It can be done, but it’s very costly; it’s very time-consuming.”

Often, “these animals get euthanized; they’re not safe to put out for adoption.”

But Melinda Plasse, president of upstate Cropseyville-based The Animal Support Project, said “that used to be the norm. . . . We have a lot more data that helps us understand there is hope for these animals.”

She cited the breakup of a dogfighting ring last year, involving 50 pit bull mixes in a Bronx apartment. Most were adopted, including Mona Lisa, 4. She was cared for first in a shelter run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, then a foster home upstate.

Eventually, after four months of training, she got better.

“The shorter you can make the sheltering, the better,” Plasse said. Otherwise, “They’re living an institutional life; it’s like putting kids in reform school.”

Press Release – Two Hurricane Sandy Dogs Find New Homes

Press Release Logo

July 5, 2013

                                                                                                Media Contact: Melinda Plasse




             Two Hurricane Sandy Dogs Find New Homes with Help From

ASPCA and The Animal Support Project


Cropseyville, N.Y.—- The Animal Support Project (TASP) announced today that after months of behavioral rehabilitation, two dogs found in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are moving on to new homes. A generous grant from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) enabled TASP to rehabilitate Brooke and Pluto, two New York City dogs lost during Hurricane Sandy last fall. At this writing, the first of the two dogs has already begun the next chapter of his life with a new, loving family in Scotia, N.Y.

Following Hurricane Sandy, TASP assisted with daily care at the ASPCA Emergency Boarding Facility in Brooklyn, N.Y., which was established in November to provide temporary sheltering for animals displaced by Sandy. During the operation, TASP volunteers recognized the potential of Brooke and Pluto, two dogs that remained unclaimed when the boarding facility closed in February.

“NY City’s stray pets endured tremendous hardships during and after that hurricane. Given that reality, the ASPCA’s Emergency Boarding Facility in Brooklyn provided the bridge to a new, secure life,” said Melinda Plasse, President of The Animal Support Project. “ We at TASP are proud to partner with the ASPCA, enabling Brooke and Pluto to enter that new life well equipped both physically and behaviorally.”

Thanks to the generosity of ASPCA, TASP was able to afford the behavior training and medical care necessary to make Brooke and Pluto adoptable. They start their new lives with a year’s worth of ASPCA pet health insurance, thanks to ASPCA’s commitment to the animal victims of Hurricane Sandy.

“The ASPCA was thrilled when The Animal Support Project volunteered to take in Brooke and Pluto, two dogs that have been through a great ordeal,” said Dr. Dick Green, director of disaster response for the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team. “We are happy to see these dogs finally move on to new, well-deserved homes through the tireless effort of TASP.”

Disaster response is just one component of TASP’s mission to support animals and their owners through tough times. As an ASPCA Field Investigations & Response Partner, TASP expands its disaster response and recovery capabilities to assist even more animals and the people who treasure them.

For more information, please visit

About The Animal Support Project

The Animal Support Project, Inc. is a 100% volunteer 501.c.3 charitable organization dedicated to proactively reducing the suffering of all species of companion animals through crisis intervention. Through TASP’s combination of field response, public awareness, mentoring and spay/neuter initiatives, hundreds of animals each year are spared the stress of being surrendered to a shelter or euthanized. Equally important, the owners of these animals are enlisted in the process whenever possible, helping them become a part of the solution and part of a more humane community.

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Brooke’s Training Videos

Below are some of Brooke’s Training videos

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In the wake of the Great Recession

Pet-palooza offers dogs and cats to adopt at low cost

By Anne Hayden

Altamont Enterprise article image of 2 dogsGUILDERLAND — Over 100 animals will be available for adoption, for little to no cost, at The Animal Hospital in Guilderland on Saturday.
Dr. Edward Becker is partnering with Steve Caporizzo, television weatherman, and 14 animal adoption agencies, to put on what he is calling a “pet-palooza.”
“People are giving up or abandoning a record number of pets because they can’t afford them, and, by the same token, people aren’t stepping up to adopt pets because they can’t afford them,” Becker told The Enterprise this week.
Becker, who founded The Animal Hospital over 30 years ago, has a reputation for working with wildlife, and this will be his first foray into domestic animal adoption. He contacted Caporizzo, whose Pet Connection program The Animal Hospital sponsors, and asked for help organizing an adoption event.
“If I could do anything to facilitate adoptions, which would help the agencies, and ultimately the pets, I wanted to do it,” said Becker. Caporizzo contacted agencies he had worked with through Pet Connection; the goal was to get at least eight agencies to participate, but there was such a positive response that 14 agencies will attend. The Animal Hospital will subsidize the adoption fees.
One agency that will be bringing adoptable pets to The Animal Hospital on Saturday is the charity group The Animal Support Project. According to Melinda Plasse, the founder of TASP, the group, consisting of roughly 25 volunteers, has been actively rescuing “animals and people” for five years.
“We’re a little different than the typical animal rescue group; we do pull animals from shelters and re-home them, but our primary mission is to short-circuit the need for animals to go to the shelter in the first place,” said Plasse, who lives on a farm in Cropseyville. TASP offers help with behavioral issues, landlord problems, legal issues, veterinary care, and disaster aftermath.
Plasse said she founded the organization after she traveled to the Gulf Coast as a volunteer to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She came back with many contacts, and did some training with national groups to assist with national-level rescues.
“What I learned was easily transferable to the local community. If you can take care of 350 scared animals after a hurricane, you can certainly help someone with one dog,” Plasse said. Her philosophy is that neighbors should help neighbors keep their pets.
“Neighbors help neighbors when another family member is sick — why wouldn’t we do that for someone who loves their animal?” asked Plasse. TASP offers its services to everyone on a sliding scale according to need. Plasse said anyone who can prove financial need is eligible for free services.
“We are here to get people through a crisis,” Plasse said. TASP delivers flea, tick, and heartworm medication to low-income families at reduced costs, and helps subsidize operations to spay or neuter pets.
Plasse said TASP will have a large tent with plenty of information and adoptable animals at Saturday’s event.
“There is no shortage of animals that need a home. We get referrals from veterinarians about pets that need new homes, and we take animals from shelters down South,” said Plasse.

Two of the dogs TASP will bring on Saturday are Jack Russell terrier siblings, Lucy and Desi. They were put up for adoption when their previous owner became sick, and could no longer care for them after her husband died. Before his death, he made his ailing wife promise that Lucy and Desi would stay together when they were adopted out. The terriers are both six years old, and Desi is deaf, but with Lucy’s help he gets around just fine. The pair is currently in a foster home.
Plasse said TASP is thrilled to be included in the adoption event.
Other adoption agencies participating include Animal Lovers; the Animal Protective Foundation; Brennan Humane Society; Cat Tales Rescue; the Companion Animal Placement Program; Greyhounds as Companions; the Guilderland Animal Shelter; Heaven Sent Rescue; Kitten Angels; the Mohawk Hudson River Humane Society; Peppertree Rescue; and Rottie Empire Rescue.
Becker said many local businesses have offered to sponsor the adoption day and to provide refreshments and gifts. Bountiful Bread and Creo’ will provide lunch, and there will be drawings for gifts, such as a $100 gift certificate for boarding at Altamont Country Kennels. All proceeds will go to the Pet Connection.

For those who adopt pets on Saturday, The Animal Hospital will provide a tote bag full of pet-related items, and a $75 gift certificate for health-care. Professional portraits of adopted pets will be taken free of charge, and the Grooming Gallery will be on site to provide grooming to the pets in need.
“People can just show up, and hopefully at least look, and, even if they don’t need a pet, they might know someone who does,” said Becker.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at The Animal Hospital on Rocking Horse Lane, in Guilderland.

Hurricane Sandy October 2012

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Dogs rescued from NYC being trained, prepped for adoption locally

Published: Monday, June 03, 2013

By Andrew Beam – The Troy Record

CROPSEYVILLE — The Animal Support Project has a 2-year-old pit bull up for adoption after it was found without a home during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The Animal Support Project, a 501c3 charitable organization which regularly tries to prevent pets from being placed in animal shelters, has had to play a different role after two pit bulls were found displaced due to the damage done by the hurricane to New York City.

According to Melinda Plasse, president of the Animal Support Project, her organization was called down by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help run an animal shelter in Brooklyn.

“The shelter was closed down and they contact all the known owners for the animals where the owner may either surrender their pets or make arrangements to have them go into foster care, or have them go to a friend’s house,” Plasse said. “It’s not always the case the owners come back.”

Leftover from the shelter, which was called the Emergency Boarding Facility for New York City Pets Displaced by Hurricane Sandy, were then 8-month-old Pluto and 2-year-old Brooke. Through a grant from the ASPCA, the Animal Support Project was able to take over the dogs and look for new owners for them.

The grant included funding for the cost of training the pets, foster care and boarding the animals. The ASPCA also offered to sponsor the first year of insurance costs for the animals on behalf of the new owners. Plasse said this was negotiated by her organization because pit bulls can be more difficult to adopt out.

Pluto has already found a home, though, much to the organization’s surprise. Plasse said the pets were not ready for adoption at the time but were brought to the Mohawk Honda Pet Connection in March where many in attendance fell head over heels for Pluto.

“We took him and Brooke more for fun because they’re not really ready for prime time,” Plasse said. “Everyone fell in love with Pluto.”

It came on the heels of Pluto just graduating from obedience training and his recovery from hip surgery as he came to the shelter with a previous injury. Plasse said Pluto didn’t heal properly and was lame on his left hind leg. He went through surgery and was rehabilitated all under the grant from ASPCA.

Brooke, who recently graduated from obedience training but will be continuing to take more classes, is now being groomed for adoption. Plasse said the dog will continue to be in foster care until she is adopted. When a family does express interest, Plasse said there will be an initial home visit to make sure it is a good fit for Brooke.
“We have an in-depth approach,” Plasse said. “We are going to make sure this animal is going in the right home. We are waiting for the right home for her.”

Those interested in Brooke can contact the Animal Support Project at 518-727-8591.

Andrew Beam may also be reached at 270-1294.


National animal rescues and resources

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