What My Shelter Means to Me: Jersey Animal Coalition

February 2, 2012  

StubbyDog Essay Contest First Prize

By Maryellen Liddy

“Pick me, pick me!”

Thirty-nine dogs leap to their feet when they hear the kennel doors open. All would love a home without chaos, noise, concrete, cages and far too much loneliness. While they wait at one of the only true no-kill shelters in New Jersey – and, believe me, they can wait for years – they are walked, run, petted, hugged and loved by a remarkable cadre of volunteers. For the past six months, I have been privileged to count myself among their members.

In a state where unwanted dogs can be euthanized in as little as seven days, the Jersey Animal Coalition (JAC) in South Orange, N.J., is a safe haven for dogs, especially pit bull type dogs that others might deem unadoptable. With a lot of work, love and patience, the JAC is able to find safe, loving homes for many bullies who would otherwise be destroyed without as much as a second thought.

So what does the JAC mean to me? It means that little Jane, a tiny black pit bull rescued from New York’s infamous Animal Care & Control, is no longer terrified, shaking in her cage, but instead is living with kindness and affection for the first time in her life. It means that sweet little Cookie, (photo above) the mellowest pit in the world, has a fancy pink collar, a big yard and the love of a wonderful family. It means that Maurhino, tossed over a fence as a puppy, finally has a home where he is adored by his dog siblings and his punk rock daddy. It means that Parker, slated for a gas chamber in Georgia, is instead taking daily walks with a guardian who says he has become the best part of her life. It means that Tootsie doesn’t have to be a bait dog anymore, that Bruno will never again be chained in a basement, that Chester doesn’t have to flinch away from abuse, and that Elderbull Tazz finally has a real chance at happiness.

Perhaps best of all? The JAC means that my beloved Tony, a Boxer/pit mix who I have walked four times a week for nearly six months, received the best New Year’s gift ever. After being saved from cruelty, Tony endured three years of waiting, three years of “pick me!” at the kennel doors, three years of being passed over at adoption events … three long years. But the JAC never gave up on Tony, when surely most other shelters would. Was it worth it, all the struggle and heartache and time? I’d say so. This loyal, magnificent boy rang in 2012 in a new home. A home with parents and children. And a new blue collar, and a dog bed, and hiking trips and toys. And, at long last, all the love and safety and joy he so deserved.

When we volunteers heard the news about Tony’s adoption, many of us cried. Not for us, although we will miss him terribly. We cried from the sheer delight of discovering that the world sometimes works the way it should, that good dogs get rewarded for their patience, and that, for one dog on one glorious day, what seems a simple yet impossible dream – a home for a homeless pit bull – can be achieved.

For giving all dogs like Tony a chance at achieving this same, simple dream, the JAC means I get to be a small, proud part of making this world a better place for pit bulls. And, for that, I am truly blessed.

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5 Responses to “What My Shelter Means to Me: Jersey Animal Coalition”
  1. Goodness chills ran through my entire body as I read this story. As a volunteer, foster and proud pet parent of two pitties this is why we do what we do. Tears streamed down my face to know that Tony after all of his waiting and patience has found true love. AWESOME

  2. mac_naughton says:

    Deserving winner! Wonderful submission, and wonderful shelter! God bless the bullys!

  3. dustinmay2 says:

    Stubbydog, you need to hire this person at once! Holy crap can she write! What a touching story.

  4. avegas72 says:

    That was a great story…and as usual…it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for a story truly deserving of a winner, and creating hope for the unwanted pitbulls.