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Long IslandSuffolk

At Suffolk expo, pets long to go home with new owners

Monica Berman of the Grateful Paw Cat Shelter

Monica Berman of the Grateful Paw Cat Shelter in East Northport holds Holly, a cat up for adoption at the shelter, during the Long Island Pet Expo at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

It was love at first fuzzy sight at the Long Island Pet Expo in Brentwood on Saturday for some would-be pet owners.

"When I first saw Mason, I said 'I'm taking him,' " said Brittany McClung, 26, of Center Moriches, a student at Suffolk County Community College, after filling out her adoption paperwork for the shepherd mix.

The throngs who clogged the aisles at the college Saturday -- the second day of a three-day event -- came to see trained dogs perform tricks, watch dachshunds race and parade their pets. Organizers said the expo typically draws 10,000 to 12,000 people. For Long Island animal shelters the days are opportunities to introduce dogs and cats to potential owners. A petting zoo, a reptile exhibit and other animals also were part of the expo.

"People don't want to go to shelters because it's a sad place," said Michele Forrester, director of operations for Wainscott-based Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons Inc. "We bring them to the people, to these large events, and people see our animals in a happy setting."

A line of parents and children passed through the group's mobile adoption center -- a minibus teeming with kittens and puppies. Saturday afternoon they had 10 adoption applications filled out.

McClung's boyfriend, Myles Gil, 24, of Bellport, a security guard, said adopting a dog hadn't been on the agenda.

"We came specifically not to get a dog," Gil said. "That was our mantra, not to get a puppy."

"He was saying that," McClung recalled, as she scratched 3-month-old Mason behind the ears. "I did not say that."

Around the corner, Dan Paturzo, 35, a machine shop manager from Ronkonkoma, said seeing a gray pit bull named Cheyenne in person was different from looking at it in a kennel where "you can't see personality" or on the computer.

Cheyenne was one of two dogs at the booth run by Shelter Link, an Islip-based nonprofit that operates with volunteers on behalf of the municipal Babylon Animal Adoption Rescue Center.

His daughter Cassidy, 11, needed no more convincing. "She's cute and she's calm," she said.

"I'll discuss it with my wife," Paturzo said.

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