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Charlestown Residents Give Shelter Animals a Second Chance

September 16, 2013

CATONSVILLE, MD (September 16, 2013) - When Charlestown retirement community resident Patricia Terry wanted companionship, she did what many people do these days: she turned to the Internet. But Pat wasn't searching for a traditional relationship; she wanted the kind of unconditional love only man's best friend can provide. So she logged onto the Maryland SPCA's website and fell head over heels for Flossie, a five-year-old Scottish Border Terrier mix.
"I was instantly in love," said Terry, a retired nurse and lifelong dog owner.
"After I lost my dog Katie this past September, I thought, 'Well that's it. I'm getting too old to do this anymore,'" she said. "I only lasted about six weeks before I changed my mind."
At first Terry considered fostering animals via the Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW), as she had fostered and adopted animals from them in the past. But when that didn't pan out, she decided to adopt.
"I started looking around online and found the [Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MDSPCA)] website," Terry said. "That's where I saw Flossie. She is a well-behaved and loving dog, although she is rather exuberant and likes to bark at things. She's been very responsive to training and is just a great companion!"
Terry is one of many pet owners living at Charlestown who have turned to animal rescue groups like the MDSPCA for a companion. And with 110-picturesque acres including a lake, shade trees, a nature trail, and enclosed dog run, Charlestown has plenty of room for canine companions to stretch their legs.
"I just cannot see going out to a breeder or a puppy mill when there are so many of these poor critters out there who need a good home," said Terry.
October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Throughout the month, the ASPCA tries to raise awareness about the 5 to 7 million companion animals that enter animal shelters nationwide every year---nearly 3 to 4 million of which are euthanized.
"There are 3 to 4 million dogs living in shelters nationwide who would make a fantastic addition to anybody's family, all they need is a second chance," said Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Adoption Center in a press release. "During Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, the ASPCA encourages everyone to visit their local shelter, adopt one of these amazing animals or help us spread the word to potential pet owners to make pet adoption their first option."    
Fran Wode rescued her nine-year-old chocolate Shih Tzu, Happy, from the MDSPCA two years ago.
"The minute I went over and picked her up, that was it," said Wode. "She put her little head against me like she was saying, 'I love you.' She makes me laugh. I open the front door, and there she is running around in circles happy to see me. Every day around 3 p.m. I'll say, 'I think it's time for us to take a nap Happy.' She runs right over and hops into my lounge chair."
A co-worker at the dentist office where Wode works encouraged her to adopt a dog after her husband passed away.
"Honestly I feel like she rescued me just as much as I did her," said Wode.
One of the first things Wode did after bringing Happy home was register with Charlestown's Pet Lover's Group, an emergency pet-sitting program led by Terry.
"We ask all pet owners to register their animals," said Terry. "They then receive a refrigerator magnet with an insert which holds the pet's information, including the pet's name, what and when they eat, medications, where they hide, and where the litter box or leash is kept. In the event an emergency arises with the owner, the security staff at Charlestown can access the information and contact me. Then I arrange for temporary pet care until family or friends are notified. It's just one less thing pet owners and their families have to worry about."
To date, more than 100 pets are registered with the free emergency pet-sitting program. 
Terry said she is glad she changed her mind about getting another dog and is happy to be living in a retirement community that embraces pets and their owners.
"It is a very accepting atmosphere," said Terry. "We do what we can to help out our neighbors and work with whatever circumstances they are experiencing. After all, we're all pet lovers."