When a dog arrives at a rescue shelter, one of the main aims is to find them a forever home as quickly as possible. This is beneficial for both the dog and the shelter. Staying in a shelter for a prolonged period is not an enjoyable lifestyle for a dog as every dog needs the comfort and security of a loving home. Long-term stays are also costly for a shelter as they must meet the ongoing needs of every dog, and there are costs attached to this. In most cases, dogs quickly find adoptive parents. However, it can take longer to find some dogs their forever home, and there is not always a clear reason why this would happen. The Dodo tells the story of a six-year-old terrier called Lexi Mama who has lived at a shelter for the last four years, and nobody knows why.
For the last four years, volunteer dog walker Bonnie Zarrillo has been walking the dog. Zarrillo is completely baffled as to why the adorable terrier has not been adopted, and she describes Lexi Mama as being full of love. Zarrillo went on to say that the dog enjoys everything and that she reciprocates any love and kindness she receives. Lexi was first brought to the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter as a stray back in 2014. The staff at the shelter do not know much about what happened to Lexi Mama before she arrived at the shelter.
All they know is that her original owner turned up to claim her shortly after she was brought into the shelter. Unfortunately, Lexi returned to the shelter within a year, and this time she had a puppy with her, so now she was a mommy dog. On this occasion, her owner didn’t make an appearance to claim her. The staff called Lexi’s puppy Vee, and it wasn’t long before she was adopted. Sadly, her mom didn’t have the same experience, and Lexi was left behind at the shelter where she continued to wait for an adoptive family to come forward for her. When Lexi had originally come to the shelter, she didn’t always react well to people or to other dogs. Zarrillo suggests that this is a possible reason why people didn’t want to adopt the terrier. However, Zarrillo was quick to add that Lexi Mama has improved greatly since then.
Spending so much time in a shelter began to take its toll on Lexi Mama. She lost the fur on one side of her body and developed dark black marks. Staff at the shelter decided that Lexi Mama needed a trip to the vets to find out the cause of the problem. The vet confirmed that the hair loss and dark patches were probably caused by stress. Life took an upward turn for Lexi Mama in 2018 when a man with a rural property in Maine adopted her. Finally, Lexi Mama was enjoying a fantastic lifestyle. She had a warm home to sleep in, an owner who would pet her and play with her, and a rural setting where she could run around to her heart’s content. Sadly, her comfortable lifestyle was short-lived and Lexi Mama’s life took another downward turn. Her new owner’s personal circumstances unexpectedly changed, and poor Lexi arrived back at the shelter for the third time. Zarrillo was distraught to see the dog back at the shelter and admits that she cried like a baby.
Although Zarrillo would love to adopt Lexi herself, she cannot do so due to her own circumstances. She is already a mom to two cats with special needs. Lexi doesn’t get along with cats, so it is not a good setting for her. Despite being unable to adopt the dog, Zarillo has developed a strong bond with Lexi, so she tries to visit her at the shelter every other day. Each time she visits, she takes Lexi out for a long walk. Even when Zarrillo does not visit, Lexi still gets lots of attention as the volunteers take her out of her kennel twice a day for a walk. The dog also loves playing with the toys, taking a dip in the pool, and spending time with anyone who shows an interest in her.
Zarrillo has said that Lexi can take some time to warm up to strangers, but once she has warmed to them, she would make a very loyal dog. She is now hopeful that the day when adoptive parents come forward arrives very soon. She believes that Lexi will make a fantastic dog for a quieter home where there are no children or other pets. It is best that Lexi has all the attention to herself. She has such a lot to offer for the right person or couple. Until that day arrives, Zarrillo says that she will continue to visit the shelter as Lexi’s buddy. The only problem is that it breaks her heart each time she visits, and she always ends up crying. Lexi lovingly licks away her tears while seemingly remaining none the wiser that the tears are for her.
Eventually, it is likely that Lexi Mama dog will find her new home. The fact that she has had such a long wait for adoption is sadly not all that unusual. According to ASPCA, only 23 percent of dogs living in a family home have been adopted from a rescue shelter, compared to 34 percent from a breeder. This means that there is a shortage of people willing to adopt rescue dogs.
Speed is of the essence when trying to find Lexi a new home, as the older a dog gets the less likely it is that they will successfully find their forever home. Most people prefer a puppy and avoid older dogs because they do not have as many years to live and because of the potential medical costs for veterinary care. The staff of the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter can only hope that Lexi does not reach this stage in her life before she is adopted.