Julie Loparo — president of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates — loves dogs.
She loves dog stories too. Here’s one she shares with “06880” readers:
Winslow Park may not be the place where everybody knows your name.
But they do know your dog’s name.
Regulars at the downtown park are quick to share stories about their own dogs, and answer questions about yours.
When a dog gets distracted by a squirrel or another canine buddy, the group watches closely until it’s reunited with its owner.
Just another day at Winslow Park.
Several weeks ago however, the crowd discovered a little one that’s a poster dog for the ever-growing number of abandoned dogs (and cats) in Connecticut.
A senior, blind long-haired chihuahua was found in a beat-up dog carrier on a park bench. How she got there, and how long she’d been there, were mysteries.
But clearly, she’d been left there.
Westport Animal Control quickly responded. She was transported to Schulhof Animal Hospital for evaluation and care.
Once stabilized and treated for a possible flea situation, she was brought back to Animal Control.
It became clear she was not keen on the food being served (though it’s very high quality dog food). A Westport Animal Shelter Advocates volunteer prepared healthy meals of organic meats and vegetables. The little one liked that.
On Wednesday, WASA officially adopted “Misty Mae” into their foster family.
With the help of Schulhof’s staff, WASA will bring her up-to-date on vet care, with vaccinations, and detailed blood and dental work. They’ll consult with eye specialists, to see if she’s a candidate for cataract surgeries.
They’ll also search for a new, loving home for Misty Mae.
She’s sweet, quiet, and 10 to 12 years old. She has not been reactive to other dogs, though additional testing will be done. She loves to be brushed and cuddled. She’s a lap dog in every sense of the word.
For additional information about Misty Mae, call 203-557-0361, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate for her vet care, click here (and note that you are contributing for Misty Mae).
Winslow Park is definitely the place where everyone knows your dog’s name.
And Westport is where Animal Control, WASA and Schulhof all come together to help a dog named Misty Mae.
Last summer, a Ridgefield toddler died when he was left inside a parked car.
Brandon Malin — a Coleytown Middle School 8th grader — thought of that, when he saw “Heat Kills” signs in Fairfield parking lots. He knows that every year, children and pets are left in cars that quickly become sweltering — even on mild days.
But Brandon did more than think.
With the support of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, First Selectman Jim Marpe and other town officials, he’s creating signs. They’ll remind drivers not to leave kids — or pets — in closed vehicles, especially in warm weather.
The signs will be installed in town-owned parking lots, where police feel the risk is greatest. Possibilities include Parker Harding, the Baldwin lot, the beaches, Longshore and library.
After the initial rollout, Brandon will contact owners of private parking lots too.
Right now he’s working with the Staples High School art department on the design.
He’s also trying to raise the $2,500 needed to produce the signs. All donations are tax deductible, and the target deadline is April 8. Click here to help!
But whether you donate or not, remember one thing: Heat Kills!
Tina’s cat — now named Elsie — is a delight. She is approximately 4 years old, healthy…just wonderful.
She is temporarily being boarded at Schulhof Animal Hospital, receiving excellent care and attention from staff and WASA volunteers. Now, WASA is searching for a local forever home for Elsie. She will need to be kept indoors for her safety.
Potential adopters should email email@example.com, or call 203-557-0361.
Tina’s funeral will be held today (2 p.m., Friday, December 9), at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Westport.
Westport Animal Shelter Advocates is soliciting donations for the cat’s medical examination and care. President Julie Loparo writes:
WASA thanks the Westport Police Department, particularly Chief Foti Koskinas; Animal Control officer Gina Gambino; Dorrie Harris, co-founder of TAILS; the staff of the Senior Center, particularly Tom Saviano, and the staff of Schulhof Animal Hospital for working together to humanely “trap” and provide care for Tina Wessel’s cat.
The cat is calmly waiting in his/her crate for an exam. It is wonderful to live in a town with the compassion to want to do right by one of its long-term residents. This joint effort ensures that Ms. Wessel’s cat won’t be left to fend for itself.
WASA, with the kind assistance of the Schulhof staff, will oversee the cat’s care. When the time comes, it will secure a home for Ms. Wessel’s friend and furry family member.
If you would like to assist WASA with this effort, please visit www.westportwasa.org and click “Donate.” Please note on the form that you are donating in memory of “Tina’s cat.” WASA is a 501c3 organization.
Many Westporters want to do something to honor Tina’s memory. This is one way to help.
Tina’s cat. (Photo courtesy of Westport Police Department)
Last week at about 6:15 p.m., when the air was still very muggy with the temperature in the high 80’s, a group of diners (and Westport residents) at Sherwood Diner became aware of a large SUV in the parking lot with a small dog inside — and New York plates. The windows were completely shut.
It was determined that the car had been there at least 45 minutes. A call was made to Westport Police, as Westport’s animal control officer was off duty.
Officer Wong Won and another officer (whose name we don’t know) responded quickly. The owner of the car was identified (mid-meal). She became belligerent and defensive, and stated, “this wouldn’t be an issue in Westchester.”
Officer Won responded, “Ma’am, this is Westport. We love our dogs in Westport.”
The dog owner was ticketed, and warned about leaving her dog in a hot car.
WASA would like to thank Officer Won and his fellow Westport officer for coming to this dog’s rescue, and handling the situation so beautifully. Tails are wagging all over Westport in appreciation.
Our thanks too to the Westport residents who were advocates for the little dog.
Yes, Officer Won, this is Westport. And we do love our dogs!
The story described his abuse, rescue by the Connecticut Humane Society, and subsequent adoption by Westporters Jim and Laura Pendergast.
But at the couple’s summer home in Maine, Junior suffered a stroke. His rear legs were paralyzed.
The Pendergasts committed to water and physical therapy, plus acupuncture, twice a week.
Junior was slow to heal. So the couple purchased a wheelchair.
The dog fought and cried. Finally — thanks to treats and sheer determination — Junior walked.
Today he runs on the beach, plays with other dogs, even swims.
Junior the Wonder Dog.
The “06880” story highlighted Junior’s star turn on “Born to Explore.” That’s the Saturday morning ABC TV series that offers inspiring stories from around the world.
“Born to Explore” has Westport roots too. In a small warren of 2nd-floor offices next to Bobby Q’s, Richard Wiese and a tiny staff produce 26 episodes a year. The entire series is planned, organized and edited right on Main Street.
A world map inspires Richard Wiese in his Westport office.
But this story isn’t really about Junior. Nor is it about “Born to Explore.”
It’s about Laura Pendergast — Junior’s owner — and her work with other animals.
With a nod toward Jim Fowler, former host of “Wild Kingdom.” He’s friends with Wiese, and has visited “Born to Explore”‘s office.
Fowler will be back in Westport on Tuesday, May 3 (7 p.m., Terrain). The Emmy Award winner will be honored at a fundraiser to support animal welfare. Wiese serves as emcee.
The 3rd is global: the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Dr. Laurie Marker — founder and executive director of the Namibia-based group — will be honored at Terrain too, for her ground-breaking work.
Dr. Laurie Marker and friend.
The fundraising event — called “Rescue You Rescue Me” — includes wine and hors d’oeuvres; a fashion show by Anthropologie; live music; live and silent auctions, and private discounted Terrain shopping. Westport’s own Cynthia Gibb — who has rescued many animals — will model.
This story has meandered, from Junior the Wonder Dog and Richard Wiese to stray dogs, cheetahs and “Wild Kingdom.”
That’s not unusual. There’s a big world out there to explore.
But when you come right down to it, we’re all connected.
(For more information on the “Rescue You Rescue Me” event, click here. To order tickets, click here.)
NOTE: If you’d like to see Junior, the Wonder Dog’s TV episode, it’s on Netflix. Search for “Born to Explore, It’s a Dog’s Life.”
Planning the event (from left): Julie Loparo, Sara Burke, Marita Driscoll, Laura Curley Pendergast, Sue Smith. Dogs: Violet and Rico.
Westport is no stranger to dog doings. It took years to decide that, during certain months of the year, Fido could run off-leash on certain areas of the beach.
Many Westporters today call Winslow Park “the world’s most expensive dog run.”
A new canine controversy may dog us this weekend.
First, some background.
A little over 2 years ago, several residents formed Westport Animal Shelter Advocates. Their mission was to raise awareness of Westport Animal Control — a no-kill shelter that cares for lost and abandoned dogs — and rally support for a renovation project.
The group also hoped to stop a proposed joint venture between the Connecticut Humane Society — a kill shelter — and Westport Animal Control.
Westport Animal Control Advocates make sure no dogs are killed. (Courtesy Pamela Einarsen Photography)
WASA went on to fund construction of outdoor runs at Westport Animal Control, and purchased a washer/dryer for the facility. They’re in the process of installing an alarm system, and spaying, neutering and vaccinating animal control dogs.
WASA volunteers handle press releases for the dogs, and provide supplemental walks and socialization.
The 2nd annual event is set for this Saturday (Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), at the grassy area next to the Compo Beach basketball courts.
Dogs will compete in categories like Top Kisser, Top Tail Wagger and Top Face Only a Mother Could Love. A silent auction features sports tickets and memorabilia, jewelry, cookware and more. Joey’s provides lunch.
Not much to bitch about, right?
On the very same day, the Connecticut Humane Society is holding an event (12-3 p.m.), at their Post Road facility. They’re advertising pet adoptions, pet portraits, a doggie costume contest, and a pet/owner lookalike contest.
The WASA people aren’t pointing fingers — but they sure aren’t wagging their tails in delight. They hope the fact that 2 organizations run similar events on the same day is just a coincidence — but no one is sure.
There is plenty of confusion in town. Many residents believe the Humane Society is actually Westport Animal Control. In fact, Westport Animal Control — a division of the Police Department — is town-owned and run. It’s located on Elaine Road, off Bridge Street near the boat ramp.
WASA’s Top Dog contest is being held at Compo Beach. That’s a lot easier to get to than the no-kill Westport Animal Control. But it’s still not as visible as the Connecticut Humane Society’s building on the Post Road — just up the hill from CVS.
If you want to go to the Humane Society shindig on Saturday, go.
If you want to go to WASA’s Top Dog contest, go there instead.
But don’t confuse the 2. Even if the Humane Society maybe — just maybe — hopes you do.
(For more information on the WASA Top Dog contest, click here. For more information on the Connecticut Humane Society event, click here.)
The non-profit organization is running an essay and photo contest. 100 percent of the $20 entry fee goes to improving the town’s Animal Control Shelter off South Compo Road.
I have no idea which bitch — or son of a bitch — will win. When I hear “Westport’s top dog,” I think of someone with incredible power — like the superintendent of schools, who on any snowy morning is either the most or least popular person in town, or the fire marshal or health inspector, either of whom can shut a business or building in the blink of an eye.
But this contest is about man’s best friend. The question couldn’t be simpler: “Why should your dog be selected as Westport’s top dog?” Entries must include an essay and picture (no people in the photo, please!); the human’s name, address and phone, and the dog’s name and age (in dog years? — unspecified). Winners will be chosen based on “creativity, composition and interest.”
The top 12 winners will be included in the 2010 WASA fundraising calendar. The top 3 winners will receive prizes and recognition “at an exciting event in October.” Westport’s top dog photo will also be featured at Town Hall. Entry deadline is September 30.
(Entries, including fee, should be sent to: WASA, 606 Post Rd. East, Suite 610, Westport, CT 06880. Click here for more information.)
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