From shivering in the cold under an abandoned truck in Gary to finding their forever homes for the holidays- these pups have had quite the journey these past two months.
LakeShore PAWS, a nonprofit animal shelter serving Northwest Indiana, have successfully adopted out eight pit bull terrier mixes that underwent a dramatic rescue in November. The puppies, along with another young litter of black labs, were at Harley Davidson of Valparaiso on Monday afternoon, awaiting their new families.
Their rescuer and foster parent, Amy Volochati, was brought to tears thinking of the seemingly hopeless rescue on that cold November night. Today, she gets to watch them enter new lives and celebrate their first Christmas in a home.
“I’ve had so much help,” Volochati said. “I really wanted to say that, too, that I had so many people help. Animal control, police officers in Gary, people working in Gary, people in the neighborhood, so many people we befriended and networked with who have been just so instrumental in all of this. My bosses have been so good about allowing me time to just get her, and my coworkers looking after the mom when I wasn’t there. It was just a lot of people who made this happen, so it’s just really emotional to see them all go. I’m happy, but it’s bitter sweet.”
Their mother was a stray that Volochati had been trying to catch since May. Finally her pursuit became successful and she brought the dog to Lakeshore PAWS a month ago. However, a checkup from the vet revealed that she had recently had puppies only weeks earlier. Volochati and others immediately jumped into action, wandering junkyards and abandoned houses in Gary in search of the litter of pups who had no hope for survival unless they were found that very night.
After long, cold hours of searching in the dark, finally, a tiny noise was heard under an abandoned truck. As they investigated, eight tiny eyes shined in the darkness and the group breathed a sigh of relief. The litter was brought to the shelter to be reunited with their mother.
“Carl just heard a little growl and there they were,” Volochati said. “We were expecting these teeny, tiny little babies, and they were these beautiful healthy big puppies and they just have been so healthy, unbelievably healthy according to what I’ve been told, and momma is healthy and it’s just amazing that six months of my life have come to this.”
Four from the litter were adopted by Volochati and others, while the other four were meeting their new moms and dads at Harley Davidson of Valparaiso.
For David Brumley, sales manager at Harley Davidson of Valparaiso, puppies and motorcycles make a good pair. Lakeshore PAWS has partnered with Harley Davidson Valparaiso for years, and two years ago, the bike store paid the down payment on the shelter’s new, larger location.
“Events like these not only expose us, but also benefits the dogs,” Brumley said. “Not everyone may like bikes, but there’s a lot more dog lovers. It’s fun to mix those two things.”
In a time that one may assume that animal shelters are emptying out due to Christmas adoptions, this is actually one of the fullest times at the shelter, according to Amy Davis, Lakeshore PAWS medical intake staff. Davis said there are currently 40 to 50 dogs packing the shelter right now.
“A lot of people during the holidays surrender their dogs in shelters, when they’re busy, or going out of town, or the dog got into the Christmas tree,” Davis said. “The shelters fill up, we get a lot of calls of people surrendering their animals this time of year. The euthanasia rate goes up two times during the holidays, which is really sad.”
Karol and Dan Kanelopoulos of Schererville took home one of the puppies, excited to introduce it to their 15-year-old miniature pincher. The couple hasn’t had a puppy in their house for 15 years.
“The truth is, it’s a shame the way people treat such sweet dogs,” Dan Kanelopoulos said. “Pit bulls get a bad reputation, but if only people knew how sweet they are. Someone asked me how I was going to train it to be nice. I said, ‘I don’t have to, they already are!’”
For more information about Lakeshore PAWS adoptable pets, volunteer opportunities, fostering programs and more, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LakeshorePaws and website at www.lakeshorepaws.org. They can also be reached by calling (855)-YES-PAWS.