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Canine stars awaiting new homes

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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POTSDAM — The show is over, and two stars are back at the Potsdam Humane Society, where they came from.


The pit bull puppies, named Matthew Broderick and Ethel Merman, who made their stage debut during the Community Performance Series production of "Annie," are awaiting adoption, along with five or six of their brothers and sisters. Only one, Mary Martin, has a home so far.


"We haven't had a lot of applications. It's tricky. It's hard because of what they are," shelter director Anne E. Smith said. "It would be nice if all the puppies were fawned over and scooped up, but it's a tough breed and that's why we did it."


Pit bulls are notoriously hard to find homes for because of their violent reputations. When the theater group came to the shelter, looking for puppies to be trundled across the stage during the show, Ms. Smith was ready with the litter of eight and a display about the shelter for the lobby.


"Especially since it was pit bull puppies, people weren't really sure, but it was great to work with the shelter," said Anna Marie Wilharm, spokeswoman for the Community Performance Series. "One of the highlights was the shelter display at the show. Everybody gave positive feedback."


The display included pictures of animals at the shelter, including the star litter, adoption information and fliers to try to increase pit bull awareness.


Since the show ended Saturday, one of the puppies has been adopted and another, Bernadette Peters, may go home sometime this week. All eight of the dogs have been named after Broadway stars.


"It's just so hard to place them," Ms. Smith said. "A lot of military people want them because they like the breed, but then they get deployed. They're not necessarily bad owners; they're just in a bad place."


To adopt one of the puppies, people have to go through an "extensive" background check and pay an extra $50 to ensure that they take a training course, Ms. Smith said. The money is refunded after the course is complete.


The policy is new and applies only to pit bulls.


The shelter has more than 20 other dogs and three puppies. Another litter of puppies is in foster care. There are only 22 dog runs in the building, some with more than one animal. And adoptions have slowed compared with earlier this year.


"I know it gets a little bit strained at the end of the summer. People are trying to cram that last bit of fun in," she said. "It seems like every time one goes, a few more come in."

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