JoAnn Mangiaracina could no longer bear coming home to an empty house.
Margo, her beloved 18-year-old poodle, had died of cancer. The loneliness JoAnn felt was palpable.
JoAnn, who lives in New York City, wasn"t quite ready to adopt another dog, but she felt a need to be around dogs. So she started volunteering her time to walk dogs at her local shelter.
"I felt, if I don"t get another dog, I needed to at least be around them," JoAnn says.
It was at around the same time that JoAnn first heard about Best Friends Animal Society via the National Geographic Channel"s series, "DogTown." She made a donation to Best Friends and sponsored a couple of its animals, including Vicktory dog Handsome Dan. She also signed up to be a Best Friends outreach volunteer, donating her time at various events in the Tri-State area. One of those events was last June"s two-day Tri-State Pet Super Adoption at the Livingston Mall in New Jersey. As the adoption event neared, JoAnn decided she was ready to bring another dog into her home.
JoAnn received an e-mail from Best Friends about the shelters and rescue groups that would be bringing animals to the adoption event. One of those groups was Carolina Poodle Rescue. JoAnn went to their website to have a look at the dogs they had up for adoption. That"s where she first saw Jezabel, a poodle who had been rescued from a South Carolina puppy mill where she"d spent the first four years of her life.
It was Friday, the day before the two-day adoption event and groups were arriving with their adoptable dogs. JoAnn anxiously awaited the arrival of Carolina Poodle Rescue, hoping that Jezabel would be with them. When they arrived, Jamie Rubin, Best Friends" New York City programs manager, asked JoAnn if she"d like to walk over with her to welcome them.
JoAnn couldn"t wait to see if Jezabel was with them. She was.
"She and I ran out to the parking lot and she (JoAnn) didn"t even wait until they finished unloading to come inside and adopt her," Jamie says.
Jezabel became the first of more than 300 dogs and cats from more than 30 shelters and rescue organizations to find forever families of their own at the two-day event.
"I took her home that night," JoAnn says.
Her home is no longer empty.
"She is the sweetest girl you can imagine," JoAnn says. "I can"t believe how lucky I was to find such a wonderful dog."
Today, Jezabel loves jumping in JoAnn"s bag once a week to take the train to doggy daycare. She also enjoys romping around in the park.
Jezabel is just one of many homeless animals who are living wonderful lives now thanks to events like the Tri-State Pet Super Adoption. Jamie says large adoption events such as these that bring so many animals and rescue groups together in one place will bring us closer to a time of No More Homeless Pets.
"There are so many different personalities, breeds and sizes all in one place that the person ready to adopt can absolutely find their perfect new family member in one spot without traveling to different shelters and rescues," Jamie says. "It"s also been a wonderful experience for us to make so many new friends in our community and to then see these folks come out and enjoy our events together as a family, such as bringing their adopted pooches to our Strut Your Mutt. We love when they keep in touch and share photos and stories once they get home. It"s really incredible for us to get to see those families down the road so happy."
Last September, JoAnn and Jezabel joined more than 750 other people and 1,000 other dogs for the Best Friends Strut Your Mutt event in the Big Apple"s scenic Hudson River Park. The 1.8-mile trek along the river raised more than $130,000 to help New York City"s homeless pets.
The Strut Your Mutt festival in the park featured a pet psychic. JoAnn and Jezabel decided to stop by to see what the clairvoyant had to say.
"She knew nothing about us," JoAnn says. "We sat down and I told her my name and Jezabel"s name. She immediately told me that Jezabel came to me to heal my soul. And she did."
And JoAnn no longer comes home to an empty house.
- The next Tri-State Pet Super Adoption will be held June 4-5 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York, and the next Strut Your Mutt event will be held Sept. 25 in New York City. For more information, e-mail Beth Mersten Cruz at email@example.com. To volunteer at these events, e-mail Tammy Heeber at firstname.lastname@example.org. For groups that wish to participate in the upcoming Tri-State Pet Super Adoption, click here.
- Read more about Best Friends" New York City programs on its Facebook page.
Photos courtesy of JoAnn Mangiaracina