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Summer Proves Ruff for Strays

Pouncing, scurrying, dashing and ultimately loving dogs and cats were the center of attention at the Save Our Strays open house. As Laura Gavey and the staff of volunteers kept watchful eyes on playful, furry scamps, the only thing missing was adoptive families.

"Our biggest challenge is finding homes for some of the bigger dogs, but right now it is also the time of year. It's been kind of slow," said Gavey. She said everything from people busily enjoying their summers to families being on vacation tend to push animal adoption right out of mind.

Slowness aside, the Save Our Strays volunteers did find a home for at least one dog Sunday. The organization runs out of the Poster Animal Hospital, 1677 Post Road East, where it invited prospective pet owners to come in and meet some of the animals.

Moo, a white kitten with random black markings, darted around one of the veterinary checkup rooms. Periodically, he would lunge at a toy. He was easily the center of attention, and like many of the animals taken in by Save Our Strays, living on a new lease on life.

A lot of the animals come from shelters in New York City, where overcrowding means even a simple cold or kennel cough could be a death sentence as there are no resources for treatment, only euthanasia. With room for five dogs and 10 cats, Westport's Save Our Strays can't save them all, but it tries. Of course, animals do come from other locations as well, and some are simply dropped off or turned over to the organization.

Gavey said every animal they adopt is spayed or neutered. In the case of kittens and young puppies, that may mean bringing the pet back later. Fears that those surgeries could alter personalities are generally overblown or unfounded, according to Gavey. "Usually, if it has any affect at all, it is for the better," she said. Neutered animals tend to be more relaxed and less likely to rush a door to get outside. Cats spayed before their first heat are almost assured to never develop mammary cancer, which is otherwise a very common affliction. "People don't realize it is such a health benefit to spay or neuter their pets," said Gavey.

Not every animal surgery is endorsed by the Save Our Strays. "We absolutely will not adopt to anyone that is going to declaw a cat. It's a question on the application," said Gavey.

Another open house will take place sometime in the Fall. Around Christmas is the busiest and most successful time for Save Our Strays to find homes for their animals. Prospective pet owners can always see what animals are available at www.SaveOurStraysInc.petfinder.com.

"It's a great benefit for the whole family. Yes, it's a great responsibility, but what you get back is just so much love and affection," said Gavey.

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