March 24, 2011


Pet adoption offers owners unique rewards

Staff Reporter

SCOTT — With a Rottweiler-shepherd mix hot on her heels, a black lab mix bounded across the snow in pursuit of a squirrel Wednesday at Michele Counsell and Mike Fichera’s home.
The couple adopted the two dogs, Stella and Luna, in October and February, respectively, from Country Acres Pet Services in Scott.
Counsell said adoption is the best way to get a pet.
“There are so many dogs out there needing homes ... and all my dogs have been great,” said Counsell, who has adopted dogs throughout her life.
Counsell does not know much about Stella and Luna, other than Stella, now 8 months old, was found near Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport in Lansing and Luna, now 3 months old, was found in Cincinnatus. Stella has a hunting instinct and loves to chase squirrels, so Counsell does not trust the dog with chickens she raises but, together with her husband they are working on training her.
For Counsell, being a dog owner is rewarding because she is greeted by an enthusiastic canine when she gets home, she has companionship for hiking and skiing or just staying in, and she gets unconditional love from her furry friends.
“They are so happy to see you when you come home, they lay their heads on your lap ... and they tune into your moods,” Counsell said, adding that her mixed breed rescues often have fewer health problems than purebreds.
Counsell and Fichera own a landscaping business and take their dogs with them to work.
Counsell said she chose Stella because she reminded her of the first dog she owned, also a black lab. Luna was the perfect companion for Stella, she and Fichera found when they returned to Country Acres in search of a dog to keep Stella company.
Since the two dogs are both still puppies, their energy levels match one another and they can play with each other, Counsell said.
Suzie Nalley, an employee at Country Acres, said that at any given time the shelter may have 25 dogs up for adoption. A walk through the kennel revealed baying dogs looking eagerly out from behind bars, some scrabbling to get to the visitor, others wagging their tails shyly and some looking frightened by the din.
Country Acres does dog control for 15 municipalities in Cortland, Cayuga and Tompkins counties and it shelters for an additional four towns, some in Chenango County. Country Acres does dog control for the town and village of Homer, Cuyler, Harford, Preble and Scott. Truxton, Cincinnatus and Taylor have their own dog control officers but Country Acres shelters dogs from there as well.
In 2010, the shelter picked up 153 dogs from Cortland County. The shelter keeps the dogs for a week before putting them up for adoption, in case the owner claims them.
Adoption fees can range from $70 to $160, with the higher end including the cost of a spay or neuter and the lower end covering basic vaccinations and adoption fees.
Nalley said the shelter tries to match people up to the type of dog they are looking for.
One hound mix, named Shortie, has been at the shelter two years because he needs to be in a home without other dogs, cats or children. The stocky dog looked out placidly from his kennel, eagerly wagging his tail at the visitors.
Next to him, a huge golden retriever mix was lucky enough to be visited by two prospective owners who drove from Geneva to see him.
Nalley said the springtime is the busiest for adoptions.
Donna Davie, executive director of the Cortland Community SPCA, also said springtime seems the busiest because it is very slow during the winter.
But adoptions are needed year-round, Davie said.
Davie said the SPCA also tries to match dogs with the right owner.
“If we don’t have the dog that is right for the family, we invite them to come back next week because we are constantly changing who we have and we would rather take the time to find the perfect match for a home than go through the heartbreak of bringing an animal home that doesn’t work out,” Davie said.
Davie said each animal is tested for behavioral problems before being adopted out, so the owners are aware of any fear or aggression issues the dog may have.
In 2010 the SPCA adopted out 786 pets, including dogs and cats, Davie said.


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