Businesses like Spaghettini Pizzeria in Mineola have been working with local shelters to raise awareness for pet adoptions.  Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

Last May, Daisy was found as a stray dog and scheduled for euthanasia before she was saved by Pound Hounds ResQ in Manhattan.

The 4-year-old 55-pound pit bull mix pup has been brought up to date on her vaccinations and taught commands. Today, she's being fostered as she awaits her forever home. Her poster is one of several displayed on pizza boxes at Spaghettini Pizza in Mineola as part of a new grassroots pet adoption campaign.

An adoption flyer for Daisy, a pitbull mix. Credit: Pound Hounds ResQ

“If people see a picture of Daisy, it might grab them and prompt them to do something,” says Donna Darrell, founder of Pound Hounds ResQ , which has 70 dogs in foster care. “That’s how it works.”

In December, Wendy Grant, owner of Spaghettini Pizza, began putting her restaurant specials taped to takeout pizza boxes.

Spaghettini Pizza owner Wendy Grant, who is also the director of Partner Four Paws, started a pet adoption campaign by putting flyers on pizza boxes in Mineola. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

“We had such a great response to the specials that I thought maybe we should put adoptable dogs and cats on there to give them some exposure,” says Grant, who has started her own animal outreach organization, Partner Four Paws. “I’ve always been an animal advocate.”


Grant has put together a team of pet adoption organizations — Pound Hounds ResQ , Rescue Dogs Rock NYC, Pets4Luv Foundation and the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter — that supply her with photos and bios for each pet. Every flyer has a QR code, website, email or phone number for contact information. Grant has the flyers printed up and her staff attaches them to the pizza boxes.

Spaghettini Pizza in Mineola features adoption posters on its pizza boxes.  Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

“I’m envisioning a family being at home, happy that their week is over and getting ready to start their weekend by ordering pizza on Friday night,” says Jonnette Marvigliano, volunteer at Rescue Dogs Rock NYC, which has 200 dogs in foster homes. “When the pizza arrives, they see this amazing dog on the box realizing they just found a new family member.”

David Bernacchi, founder/director of Pets4Luv Foundation in Hicksville, adds, “This is a wonderful idea. As soon as I heard about it, I got excited. Getting the word out is key because all these animals need homes.”


Ashley Behrems, of Selden, and foster dog Athena at Spaghettini Pizza in Mineola on Feb. 23. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Grant is looking to attract new businesses and has already found a participant around the corner in Mineola with PS Burger.

“As soon as Wendy told us about the program, we immediately wanted to be part of it,” says Carolina Filartiga, manager of PS Burger, who staples the flyers on their takeout bags. “If the posters bring more attention to the cause we are happy to help."

Other plans include designated dates where $5 will be donated to an animal shelter for every pizza sold, plus adopt-a-thon events.

“People can come face-to-face with the animals on our tented patio in the back to see if they connect,” says Grant. “All participants will get a free slice of pizza.”


Each shelter has an adoption process. The Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter has more than 80 cats and 120 dogs up for adoption.

“The pet adoption process requires the necessary application and two references. The shelter follows up with each of the references and invites the applicant to come in for observed meet and greets. If it is a household adoption, all household members must be present at the meet and greets,” says Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin. “If the would-be adopter has a dog, we insist on having a dog-to-dog meet and greet as well.”

Some shelters request a donation from the adopter.

Bernacchi’s Pets4Luv organization specializes in finding homes for cats. He is working with state Sen. Jack M. Martins (R-Mineola) to get felines the same shelter rights canines have.

“We focus on stray, abandoned, injured, sick and senior cats that are outside. A lot of them end up being friendly,” he says. “We trap them, get them the proper medical care, put them in foster homes and then up for adoption.”


Animal shelters are severely overcrowded, causing a crisis in the pet adoption community.

“During the pandemic, everybody was home and they got a dog,” says Marvigliano. “All of a sudden the world opened up again and they had to go back to work, causing many dogs to be returned.”

The pizza box campaign encourages people to get a rescue dog instead of one from a breeder. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Marvigliano continues, “The economy had another impact. People don’t have the funds or they are afraid that money which is allotted for their family pet may have to go toward food and gas.”

Another big issue contributing to full shelters is backyard breeding.

“Sometimes if people have a male and female dog, they mate them to try to make a quick buck selling the litter for $250 per puppy,” says Darrell. “But these are not true breeders. They are known as backyard breeders.”

The pizza box campaign aims to encourage people to get a rescue dog instead of one from a breeder.

“If you really want to make a difference and you want to not just have a dog but save a dog, get a rescue dog,” says Marvigliano. “The minute you get them the dogs know they are safe and show their appreciation immediately. It’s something money can’t buy.”

The pizza box campaign hasn’t spawned any adoptions yet, but all parties involved are hopeful.

“In the winter, the adoptions slow down. By spring, I think we will see more hits,” says Darrell. “Right now, it’s about spreading awareness and educating people. It has to build up.”


WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 106 Mineola Blvd, Mineola

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