Shelter’s Success Helps Out-Of-Town Dogs

Tristan was rescued from a Babylon shelter.

Tristan was rescued from a Babylon shelter.

By Peter Sloggatt

Doomed dogs from neighboring towns will have a second chance at life and adoption thanks to a policy recently put in place by the Huntington Animal Shelter.

On July 31, the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter accepted three pit bulls from the Babylon animal shelter. Tristan, Marble, and King “are great, adoptable dogs, they’ve just had a rough time,” said Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. “There are several measures the Huntington Animal Shelter has implemented to increase adoption rates over the past several years that have created a situation where we can now save more dogs’ lives and help get them ready for and find their forever homes.”

The Huntington Animal Shelter has a high adoption rate, so it often has vacancies in its 80 kennels, said town officials. As a result, shelter supervisor Jerry Mosca suggested to Lupinacci that the town start a rescue program, taking dogs from overcrowded shelters in neighboring towns to help those towns avoid euthanizing dogs simple due to a lack of kennel space.

“We never have more than 15-20 dogs in-house at the most and we often have as few as 6-8 dogs, so we have plenty of room to take in dogs from other municipalities dealing with overcrowding,” Mosca said.

When he approached Lupinacci with the idea, “he was in complete agreement with me that this was not only a great idea but a moral responsibility on our part to help out,” Mosca said.

Huntington shelter employees visited the Babylon shelter, which was filled to capacity, to assess suitable candidates for the adoption program. The three dogs chosen had “great adoption potential,” Mosca said. The dogs were put in the Huntington Animal Shelter’s training programs the next day, with the goal of having them responsibly adopted as soon as possible.

Once the dogs arrived at the Huntington Animal Shelter, they were assessed for personality traits and worked into the shelter’s training programs and dog socialization play groups. The dogs were given time to settle in and become comfortable and on Aug. 10, 10 days after the rescue, the shelter advertised the dogs as ready for adoption.

Town officials said the shelter will rescue dogs from other neighboring towns as well.

The new policy is among a number of inititatives that have earnerd the shelter supervisor praise. Under Mosca’s direction, the shelter has raised adoption rates.

Starting as the interim shelter supervisor in 2010, Mosca began requiring all employees, including animal control officers, to walk the dogs in their care. Until then, many dogs would sit in kennels most of the day.

After he was named the permanent shelter supervisor in 2013, Mosca started a series of initiatives, starting with the move to a digital shelter management system to track repeat offenders, and store owner records, veterinary and vaccine records.

The shelter also implemented staff training covering dog play style and identifying animal aggression which town officials said led to increased live release rates. By learning to identify true animal aggression (versus simple posturing behavior) and working with unwanted behaviors, adoption rates increased from approximately 85 percent to 95 percent.

Mosca also implemented dog socialization program and dog agility training, improving the animals’ health and well being.

Huntington Animal Shelter is located at 106 Deposit Road in East Northport. Residents can report lost or found animals on the shelter’s page on the Town’s website, or call 631) 754-8722.