Be a Hero, Adopt an Animal!

This story started for me and my family on May 30th, 2011. It was Memorial Day weekend, and my wife wanted to go out and do something. For those of you who may not be familiar, my wife and I are parents of two autistic boys, and holiday weekends (or any day where there is no school) are pretty trying. My wife, who for 4 decades wanted a dog, decided to plan a trip to Little Shelter Animal Adoption Center in Huntington, NY. Of course, this trip was “just to look.”

I will admit my jerkiness on this trip. I was tired, it was hot, and I spent the 15 minute drive listing all the reasons why we should not get a dog. Upon arriving at the shelter, my wife had to fill out  a rather long questionaire, and a shelter employee talked to us about what type of home we owned, whether we had a yard, how often our potential pet would be left alone, etc. My oldest son, “K”, definitely appeared to be a cause for some concern on the part of the shelter employee, as he is quite aloof. We took a labrador mix named Hibiscus on a short walk over the shelter grounds.

Hibiscus was very friendly and calm, but was pretty large and would require a lot of exercise. My wife told the shelter employee that she was looking for the kind of dog that would curl up in her lap and just want to be loved. The shelter employee looked at his co-worker, and they both said, in unison, “Shelly.”

Here’s where my jerkiness kicked into high gear. They brought Shelly out, and I rolled my eyes. Shelly was (is) a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix, or Pomchi. This was the type of dog that always irritated me: a dog for old ladies that just incessently yaps at everything. I went back to the car with K to sit in the air conditioning while my wife and my other son “B” took Shelly for a walk. I was texting my wife rapid-fire telling her I hated the dog, that I had no desire to own that kind of dog, etc. After sitting in the car for about 10 minutes, I went back outside with K to see what was going on. I found my wife and B sitting on a bench, with Shelly taking up residence on B’s lap. B looked up at me and said “I love her,” and that was that. I love her too, and can’t imagine our house without her!

Pomchi Chiranian

Shelly's first day home

The Little Shelter is very strict on their adoption procedures. We were not able to take Shelly home that day. They had to check our references. They also did a home visit to ensure our home was adequate for Shelly’s needs. Apparently, our references gave us glowing reviews, because while I was at work, the shelter called and told my wife she could come pick up Shelly for a “trial adoption.” It was during this trial adoption that we learned Shelly’s history of abuse.

The date: September 1st, 2010. An automatic fire alarm at 168 Chichester Road in West Hills, an exclusive enclave in Huntington, NY, summoned authorities to the 33-acre property. They were sickened as to what they found when forcing open the front door to the property: a smell of urine so awful special respiratory equipment had to be used to enter. Upon entering, they found a house of horrors: upwards of 100 animals packed into the disgusting house, fighting and killing each other for the meager amounts of food and water available to them.

As if that wasn’t horrific enough, officials found 30-40 dead animals, mostly dogs. Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said it was impossible to determine how many dogs had been in the house due to the presence of skeletal remains and partial carcasses that were also found. Some were in the kitchen sink, and some in the bathtub. The urine-soaked home was in danger of collapse, and a pony, crippled from malnourishment, was also found on the property, along with 3 goats and a cat.

The owners of the house, Michael Gladstein, a dermatologist, and his wife, Marilyn Gladstein, were each charged with several misdemeanor animal cruelty counts and one count each of felony aggravated cruelty to animals. You can watch some of the videos of the story below. We think the dog in the last shot of the 2nd video might be Shelly!

We further discovered that Shelly was taken from this house of horrors to the Town of Islip animal shelter, where she would have been euthanized if someone from The Little Shelter hadn’t rescued her. My wife also managed to find the owner of another dog rescued from the house. The dog in question? Sprinkles, Shelly’s father!

pomchi chiranian

Shelly's Father, Sprinkles!

This story has a happy ending for some of the animals involved, but nationwide, millions of animals are not so lucky. 3 to 4 million dogs or cats are euthanized yearly, according to the best estimates of the ASPCA. How can you help? I’m glad you asked. First, DO NOT BUY DOGS OR CATS from a pet store or a breeder. There are tons of animals at a shelter near you that are available to adopt. Secondly, SPREAD THE WORD. If you know of someone who is considering buying a pet, urge them not to! Send them to a local pound or shelter. If you own a pet, HAVE THEM SPAYED OR NEUTERED. Lastly, you can DONATE or VOLUNTEER! Find a no-kill shelter near you and give ’em some dough or some of your time.

pomchi chiranian

How could you say no to this face?


About phdinweed
Father of 2 sons on the autism spectrum, wage slave, socially functional nerd of all sorts. Just entered my 40's, but still love video games (RPGs especially), cartoons, fart jokes, and getting nice.

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