Meet & greet inner-city pups this Saturday and perhaps walk away with a new pet


This Saturday, Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., there will be a very special meet-and-greet at the K-9 Corner, 169 Midland Ave.  Adoptable dogs from the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey’s Newark shelter will be on hand (and paw) to make your acquaintance and, hopefully, find forever homes.

Among the guests will be a very special pooch named Ace, who inspired not only this event but also one dedicated woman’s crusade to remove the stigma from inner-city animal shelters and the canines that are crowded into them.

That woman is Eileen McDonald of Bloomfield, who, along with her husband Thomas Patterson, have been running a dog-fostering program called Forgotten Tails since 2000. About a month ago, McDonald paid a visit to the AHS shelter at 124 Evergreen Ave. in Newark to pick up a dog for someone who wanted to foster it. While there, she met shelter volunteer Sherri Powell-Laraway, who was caring for Ace.

“When Sherri left, the dog began to cry,” McDonald said. “The love she had for this animal captured my heart, and as I looked down the line, each dog was more beautiful than the next.  I thought, ‘I have got to get fosters for these animals.'”

Even better would be to find permanent homes. But this is easier said than done. “Inner-city shelters have a stigma,” McDonald noted. “People are afraid to adopt from them.” (Sometimes, people are even afraid to go to them, wary of Newark’s reputation.)

“That stigma is false!” McDonald declared. But because of it, “inner-city shelters are getting overlooked, and overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to go to an inner-city shelter if you’re looking to adopt a dog or a cat.”

“The volunteers and workers [in Newark] are dedicated to helping these animals,” Patterson said, adding, “And the dogs are awesome.”

McDonald, who has herself volunteered at animal shelters for years, called the folks in Newark “probably the best group of volunteers I have ever met. They are so dedicated, so passionate.”

Since her initial visit, McDonald and Patterson have been networking to find foster humans for the Newark dogs, which, unlike pups in a no-kill shelter, are “on the clock.” “It’s tough to do this day in and day out,” Patterson said. “It’s tough to walk in [to the shelter] and not know if they’ll still be there.”

Ace, the dog that inspired McDonald, had been “on the clock,” but he has been moved to the Montclair Animal Shelter, which is a no-kill facility. He will be among the half-dozen inner-city canines visiting K-9 Corner on Saturday. Basically, the idea is to get people to meet the animals and see how lovable an “inner-city” dog can be. “They are not damaged dogs,” McDonald declared.

If one of the visitors captivates you, you can fill out an adoption application, which will be processed by the AHS in Newark.  But even if you’re not ready to adopt, interacting with these dogs is sure to be a learning experience. And a fun one, too. And if you’re still not comfortable going to the Newark shelter [shame on you!], maybe you will at least check out the various off-site adoption events it sponsors.

For more information about AHS of New Jersey’s services and programs, visit its website, where you will also finds information on various ways to help animals, including via donations.  Shelters can use such items as blankets, towels, dog biscuits and food, Patterson noted.

“If you can’t adopt, foster,” he said. “If you can’t foster, volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, donate.”

McDonald and Patterson expressed appreciation to Kathy Kerekes, K-9 Corner’s owner, for her gracious generosity in offering to host this week’s event.

And Kerekes, too, is fond of Ace. “He’s near and dear to our hearts,” she said.

“It’s amazing,” said McDonald, “how one dog touched so many people’s hearts.”

Perhaps he should be renamed Ace of Hearts.

See you on Saturday?

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