“Adopt, don’t buy” — This is the message that Ruff House Rescue, the Oceanside-based pet rescue organization, is sending to Long Islanders who want a new, furry friend in the family this holiday season and beyond.
The non-profit has re-homed nearly 7,000 dogs and cats since 2009, and started the Humane Education and Rescue Training, or HEART program, a premiere educational effort based on adoption and animal care.
“Adoption doesn’t mean that you’re getting someone’s problem dog,” said Diane Rose, founder and director of Ruff House. “It means someone failed the commitment to this dog and it’ll be put to death. People are not aware that these are actually highly adoptable dogs.”
Ruff House rescues 1,200 to 1,400 animals per year and now has 100 in their care, either being fostered or staying in Ruff House’s small kennel in Oceanside. The organization does off-site adoptions across Long Island at anywhere from car dealerships to horse ranches.
Adopters can expect pets from Ruff House to be fully vetted; the group of about 50 volunteers takes in, spays, neuters, chips and fosters pets before finding them a loving home. Many of the rescued pets come from high-kill shelters in Texas and North Carolina.
“Though it’s very difficult to transport from so far away, we want to focus on where we can make the most impact,” Rose said. “Some of these shelters have the highest euthanasia rates and pets with the highest adoptability.”
Millions of cats and dogs enter American animal shelters and about 1.5 million are euthanized annually, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. At the same time, there are 10,000 dog-breeding facilities that breed over two million dogs in the U.S. each year, according to The Puppy Mill Project, an educational and advocacy organization dedicated to fighting puppy mill cruelty.
“[This country is] breeding and buying dogs by the millions and euthanizing dogs by the millions — it’s criminal and unnecessary,” Rose said. “I always tell people: you don’t have to adopt from Ruff House. Please, just adopt.”
Ruff House relies heavily on adoption fees and fundraising proceeds to finance their rescue efforts. This holiday season, the rescue organization is hosting special fundraising and adoption events in Freeport and Rockville Centre. On Dec. 9, Ruff House is hosting a holiday brunch and basket raffle at Freeport Yacht Club from noon to 4 p.m. For a $40 ticket, attendees receive brunch, a holiday gift and one entry for the chance to win a special prize. There will also be raffle tickets for sale and over 100 baskets and gifts to win.
On Dec. 16, Ruff House is hosting pet photos with Santa Claus and a bake sale at the Rockville Centre Recreation Center from noon to 5 p.m. This is also an adoption event, so families will have an opportunity to meet adoptable pets in person.
The proceeds from these events will go toward transport, vetting, housing and insurance costs, among other necessities to get dogs to their forever homes.
Ruff House retrieves dogs from shelters weekly, as well as taking frequent emails and calls from people wanting to surrender their dog or needing assistance with their pet. “We always try to help and get involved, or if we can’t, we direct people to another rescue [group] who can help them,” Rose said. “We’re at it all the time.”
In addition to their tireless rescue efforts, Ruff House educates communities about adopting versus purchasing pets. Its HEART program provides workshops to schools and youth groups and community service opportunities to students. The program helped establish the first Long Island High School Dog Rescue Group at Syosset High School.
“We want people to see that there are plenty of adoptable pets out there,” Rose said. “Rescues are important to get the dogs home, of course, but we also educate so we can stop the cycle.”
The print version of this article stated that the holiday brunch in Freeport is on Dec. 8. This version has been updated to reflect the correct date of the event, Dec. 9.