Friday, July 29, 2011

Rescue Spotlight: Ramopo-Bergan Animal Refuge

When you walk into the adoption floor at Ramopo-Bergen Animal Refuge you hear a strange sound...
The sound of complete silence. I was baffled and asked myself, "Where are all of the dogs?" No large pit bulls were leaping to greet me, no scared dogs were curled up in balls on dirty blankets in the corners, no dogs made any sounds at all!

As I continued walking in, I saw that the dogs were not actually missing- but laying peacefully on beds or in crates, enjoying the lazy afternoon warmth streaming through the windows. (Yes, this shelter has actual windows, not to be found in even the best city shelters.) Noticing me approach, they each calmly came to sniff my hand and wag their tails. Later on, barking only seemed to accompany the daily feeding time.

Ramopo-Bergen Animal Refuge is a no-kill shelter in Oakland, New Jersey that saves and re-homes up to 1,000 dogs a year. Like most privately-run shelters, they take in plenty of pure-bred dogs and puppies because these are in the highest demand and fetch larger sums which keep the shelter running- but they still make space to save some pit bulls from euthanasia shelters and even are dedicated to taking in all the pit bull puppies they can. This is a wonderful policy because it opens more homes to pit bulls that might not have otherwise considered them.

By contrast, because NYC-Animal Care and Control is filled with pit-bulls and geriatric dogs- many people do not even visit. (More adoptable dogs are quickly rescued and saved from inevitably catching kennel cough.) Due to the variety, desireability and healthy condition of the dogs at good shelters like RBARI and Animal Haven, pit bulls at these locations are viewed by more potential adopters and may have a better chance at finding a good home.

The facilities at RBARI were clean, quiet and well-staffed with dozens of volunteers-including many high-school students receiving volunteer credit. The animals at this shelter are extremely lucky and well cared for. Just look at the clean spacious corrals filled with blankets, toys, and large clean bowls of water! If only every shelter was this well-run.

I came upon this adorable little pocket-pittie named Petunia. She came from a kill-shelter when she was a tiny baby and has been waiting 2 months so far for her forever home. She is a little older than 8 weeks old and is good with other dogs and children.

I enjoyed playing with her a bit outside. She has plenty of energy and will need proper socialization, exercise and training, but is so completely adorable- how could anyone pass her up!?

 Don't let her long wait worry you though- every pit bull at RBARI is given the time, resources and dedication necessary to find a proper placement.

Beautiful Nessie has been at RBARI for a year, but gets plenty of walks and stimulation. She is trained well and everyone who walks her maintains her training so that she knows to sit whenever exiting a door.

Nessie is a sweetheart with a big heart and a waggely tail. During my visit with her she loved being out-doors and smelling the flowers and approached strangers with friendliness and a wagging tail. She is not great with other dogs but  focuses her attention well on humans and is extremely trainable.

Another Pittie at RBARI was able to find her first home when she was a puppy but was brought back after a conflict with the other dog of the house.

Because RBARI was unable to find her a home, they have placed her with a pit-specific rescue where she has a better chance of getting the training, exercise and potential adopters she needs.

This is what Tootsie looked like as a pup and now.

RBARI also recently found a home for this special pit-bull named Hooper.
Hooper was rescued the day before his impending-euthanization from a kill-shelter.

He was a stray with an extremely mal-formed paw. Despite this- the people-loving pit found a good home very quickly who brought him to an Orthopedic specialist who is now dedicated to getting Hooper surgery to fix his paw.

RBARI is raising funds to help Hooper- if you would like to help, you can call (201) 337-5180 or e-mail

To see all of the happy, healthy, wonderful dogs (including small breeds and puppies) check out petfinder.

RBAR's website also suggests you visit these great pit bull resources:
Bad-Rap, PBRC, and SPBR.

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