By Maddy Vitale
Scott Aragno and his children Maddie, 7, and Scottie, 3, of Ocean City, stopped down at the Humane Society of Ocean City, 1 Shelter Road, Friday afternoon to check out some of the animals in need of a home.
“We are thinking about adopting. We come by every so often,” Aragno said.
The family visited the cat room. Cats and kittens of all ages, colors and sizes, filled a large room, where the felines were able to roam free and play with toys and hop into cat houses.
“I think it is great here,” Aragno said. “There is so much for the animals here. It is a very friendly animal environment.”
The Aragnos like cats, but they may adopt a dog in the future, Aragno said.
Like the Aragnos, two other families entered the shelter Friday, to see if maybe they would find a cat or dog to adopt. A shelter volunteer stopped in just to visit some of the cats. There are six dogs at the shelter with three available for adoption and about 50 adoptable cats out of the 100 housed there.
Phil Bellucci, operational support manager, said that the main goal of the shelter is to not only feed and care for the animals, but prepare them for their new lives in a permanent home. That means the dogs get exercise, attention, training and handling from experienced dog trainers at the shelter and the cats get a lot of play time, care and affection.
“We try to eliminate some of the reasons dogs and cats come into the shelter. The biggest thing we do is prepare the animal for a life in a home,” Bellucci said. “Because we are a no-kill shelter, they are safe while they are here. It wasn’t their fault that they ended up here and we want to find them loving homes.”
All of the unwanted animals who end up at the shelter have stories. Some, like Dusty, found their way to the HSOC shelter from the other side of the world.
He was born in the Sultanate of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. He is about two years old and is a “Wadi,” which is generally mixed breeds of Arabian and English sighthounds. He was feral, separated from his pack, ended up at a rescue there and chosen for transfer to the United States in 2016. He came to the HSOC shelter Dec. 24, 2016.
Dusty is playful, but not suitable for children, and may need to be the only pet. He would do best with an experienced handler, according to the Humane Society of Ocean City newsletter.
“He is a wonderful dog,” George Muller, assistant shelter manager and dog trainer said. “He is super friendly, handsome and he is a lot of fun.”
For Dusty to be adopted, like all of the other animals who need forever homes at HSOC, experienced staff do their best to make sure that the families and the animals mesh. There is an interview process and the potential adopter gets to spend time with the animals.
Some of the animals are adopted out shortly after they arrive at the shelter. While others have more complicated stories.
Muller has a special bond with Olive, who is about 10 years old. He began working at the shelter in 2006. Olive arrived in 2009. He hopes that one day the whippet and rat terrier mix, will find a loving home. Like Dusty, Olive arrived at the shelter from far away – St. Croix.
“She has lived most of her life at the shelter. Because she is older and doesn’t get along with other animals, a lot of people just pass her by,” Muller said. “It makes me sad. I absolutely love her. I want her to know some comfort and consistently in her life, for her last years.”
Olive would do best as the only animal in the house and needs an experienced dog owner who knows her specific breeds, Muller said.
Then there is Riley, who was surrendered by his owner. He is a shar-pei, pit bull mix. He is very energetic and likes to play.
“Riley is sweet, loving and affectionate,” Muller said. “He is also good with children and other dogs.”
For more information call the shelter at (609) 398-9500 or visit www.hsocnj.org