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    Monday, February 26, 2024

    Northeast serves as ‘haven’ for abandoned puppies

    Volunteer Erin Thurston, center, of All Paws on Deck, places a puppy in a pen while Alli Gilmore, left, of Mystic, holds a puppy Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, during the Furry Friends Fall Fest, an event for people to adopt a dog, at Charles Toyota in Norwich. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Andrew Johnson and his wife, Shelly, of North Franklin spend time with a puppy from All Paws on Deck that they may adopt Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, during the Furry Friends Fall Fest at Charles Toyota in Norwich. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    A puppy from All Paws on Deck looks around from a pen Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, during the Furry Friends Fall Fest, an event for people to adopt a dog, at Charles Toyota in Norwich. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Volunteer Regina Brulotte, with Dogs from All Paws on Deck, talks to a puppy during the Furry Friends Fall Fest, an event for people to adopt a dog, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at Charles Toyota in Norwich. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Norwich — Puppies filled the lobby of Charles Toyota on Saturday afternoon at the Furry Friends Fall Fest adoption event in Norwich, chewing up toys and playing with their fellow dogs.

    Surrounding them were humans of all ages, matching the energy of their furry friends.

    The dealership hosted the event alongside All Paws on Deck, a Griswold-based nonprofit that rescues puppies and their mothers from shelters in rural Georgia.

    The organization transports them to Connecticut, providing them with homes in the Northeast.

    This year, All Paws on Deck has facilitated 600 dog adoptions. A significant increase, compared to the 150 dog adoptions in 2020.

    Leading the event was All Paws on Deck adoption coordinator Dana Terpening. Terpening oversees the well-being of the dogs, ensuring prospective families meet the criteria for adoption.

    In 2021, 23 million households acquired pets, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The pandemic saw a large uptick in dog adoptions nationwide.

    Terperning said the easing of pandemic restrictions, alongside the return of in-person work caused a large increase in dogs being rehomed or sheltered.

    Despite significant growth in adoptions, she fears the upswing in shelter inventory has gotten much worse. This problem particularly stems from weaker dog protections and regulation in areas of the rural South.

    “It’s really dire in the south, still, right now. I feel like may be even worse than early in COVID. There's a lot of dogs that are not spayed or neutered. A lot of unwanted litters. There's not a lot of leash laws, it's a more rural area where we're working with mostly,” Terpening said.

    Terpening believes the only solution is legislative and municipal regulation of dog treatment and ownership in Southern states.

    “Our shelter partners are often very overfull and overwhelmed. We do our best to take on some of that burden for them. Unfortunately, relocation from the South is the best way that they can save lives,” she said.

    All Paws on Deck has rapidly grown since its founding in 2020. The organization hosts events with an array of community partners. Every puppy is usually adopted by the end of events, showcasing just how important a role community partnerships play.

    On Dec. 16, Girard Nissan in New London will host an adoption event with the organization starting at noon. Additionally, Santa Claus anticipates greeting children and hearing their wishes.

    Tommy Couture, the general manager of Charles Toyota said the dealership sees five sales on normal Saturdays. However, five vehicles were already sold by noon, as the event drew in new customers.

    “(Community events) are the heart of our store,” said Couture.

    The process for adopting a dog through All Paws on Deck is thorough.

    Prospective owners must have both personal and professional references and are assessed on their jobs, the size of their homes, if they currently own pets and their ability to financially support a dog.

    Sometimes, families and individuals will come seeking to adopt, while others initially had no intention of adopting.

    As the holiday season begins, Terpening encourages families to think about adopting a dog.

    “We definitely see an upswing and adoptions around the Christmas period,” she said. “Dogs are definitely not presents; they are 15-year commitments. So we want people to definitely be mindful. People love to surprise their family members, but it is something that everybody should be on board to take on that responsibility.”

    t.wright@theday.com

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