Moving from one town to another is not unusual for Long Islanders. Now that same option will be open to some of the Island’s four-legged residents.
Town of Huntington officials have announced a new program that will take adoptable dogs from overcrowded shelters in other municipalities, train them and then offer them up for adoption.
Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said over the years the Huntington Animal Shelter has implemented several programs to increase adoption rates that have often left the 80-kennel shelter with a high vacancy rate. Town officials said the shelter never has more than 20 dogs and often has as few as eight. After a longtime shelter employee pitched the idea of rescuing dogs from other shelters, Lupinacci said, "Why not?"
“It doesn’t cost our staff any more to bring in more dogs," he said. "It helps out other towns because it’s basically a shared service and it saves dogs' lives at the same time.”
The program is just for canines because of the available space and the dog-specific training programs, town officials said.
First to participate in the program is the Town of Babylon. Since June, its shelter has relocated six dogs to Huntington, three of which have already been adopted.
On a recent Friday afternoon in the dog days of August, Tristan and King frolicked in the grass and posed for a camera in their new home, oblivious to their new leash on life.
Babylon Animal Shelter director Chris Elton said the town's shelter takes in about 750 dogs a year.
“It’s wonderful that another municipal shelter is able to help another,” Elton said. “This will help us empty kennels in our shelter, which saves lives.”
Before a transfer takes place, Huntington Town employees evaluate and then select the dogs they believe are candidates with great adoption potential. Once in Huntington’s care, the animal is put through an intense assessment process so employees can identify the dog’s personality traits. The dogs are then worked into the shelter’s training programs and dog socialization play groups. The goal is to get as many adoptable canines a new home as soon as possible so the process can be repeated for more dogs.
Jerry Mosca, Huntington's animal shelter director, said he hopes other municipalities will learn from some of the things that have made Huntington successful in keeping adoption rates up. Mosca pitched the idea to Lupinacci and has worked for the town for 34 years.
Besides a dedicated and caring staff, Mosca said, the dogs get daily walks and participate in play groups that help with socialization, which leads to decreased anxiety. Dogs that are physically suitable take part in an agility program. Shelter employees also train the dogs in basic commands such as sit, stay and paw.
“Everything that we’re doing seems to work,” Mosca said.
Lupinacci said he expects the program to expand.
“We’ve already been in touch with other towns and our staff is coordinating with them,” Lupinacci said.
The Town of Huntington Animal Shelter is at 106 Deposit Rd. in East Northport. Shelter hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
All pets are spayed and/or neutered, current with rabies vaccination and with microchip identification, and come with a dog license.
Adoption Fee: $103.50