While many of us rescue dogs to bring into our homes as pets, one remarkable lady in Rye has spent 14 years rescuing dogs for others to adopt.
While many of us rescue dogs to bring into our homes as pets, one remarkable lady in Rye has spent 14 years rescuing dogs for others to adopt. Lynn Ingrassia, a former critical care nurse, is a woman with boundless energy, determination, and devotion to a cause very close to her heart. She has saved many dogs of all types, from Bichons to Pit Bulls, Dalmatians to Dachshunds.
It all began in Rye, when a local merchant who had heard she was “the nice lady who likes dogs,” desperately asked for her help because he had two puppies that needed homes. Lynn took one home, Madison, and a good friend of Lynn’s took the sister home and named her Sunrise after the pizza shop on Purdy.
We recently sat down with Lynn in her elegant home on Grace Church Street and met her five dogs, three of which are rescues. Lynn explained the basics of rescue, why so many dogs need rescuing, and how to find a great rescue of your own.
Rye Record: Why do so many dogs need to be rescued?
Ingrassia: Before 1970, animal shelter populations and the rates of euthanasia were on the rise and by the 1990s more than 20 million cats and dogs were being put down every year. Many rescue groups started at this time and began doing all they could to save more of these poor animals. Also better spay and neuter programs were implemented. Today there are still 3-4 million dogs and cats put down each year, and that’s 3-4 million too many.
There are lots of reasons why dogs end up in shelters, from over-breeding for money, to cultural barriers to spaying and neutering pets. Many dogs are surrendered because their owner lacks time or resources. Sometimes dogs are simply let out the front door. Mostly, the reasons are not behavioral. Pets are not disposable, but some people treat them that way.
RR: Is it discouraging to see how many nice dogs need homes?
Ingrassia: Let me tell you that I experience great joy every day working in rescue. The people you meet and the dogs you save lift your spirits in a way that is almost impossible to describe in words. It restores your faith in humanity to see the tremendous effort to do right by these dogs that are a little down on their luck. Of course there is sadness, but I get such deep and true satisfaction from rescue that I could never give it up.
RR: Many people misunderstand rescue, they think rescues are damaged dogs that won’t make good pets. Will you please comment on that?
Ingrassia: Nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing wrong with a shelter dog is that he has not found his “Furever” home. Both rescues and government run shelters are obligated to temperament test, so only the nicest dogs really make it out of the system. And any respectable rescue organization will only place non-aggressive dogs. A good rescue is not anxious to place, but rather waits for the right fit. Remember, these dogs have generally lost out once, so the rescue wants to give the animal the best possible outcome. And a good rescue will ALWAYS take the dog or cat back should any issue arise.
The other misconception is that shelter dogs are sick dogs. Not true. Every dog brought in to shelter is examined by a vet, vaccinated and treated for any medical ailment. A dog or cat is not considered adoptable if he is sick.
Of course there are dogs that have been badly treated by people who are fearful, and those dogs need to be adopted by experienced and patient dog owners. But on the whole, rescue dogs love you deeply because they understand that you’ve saved them.
RR: How should someone go about rescuing a dog?
Ingrassia: There are so many wonderful dogs out there looking for homes. Don’t discount a mutt because he’s not pure bred – mixed breeds are generally free of genetic or behavioral issues typical of some breeds. And they can be more interesting! Puppies are great but so are seniors. With a puppy, you can never be fully sure what you’ll end up with because their personalities are not formed yet. Seniors can be ideal for quieter households. They are generally happy just to have a loving pat and a soft bed. Another important point is that the commitment is shorter. When adopting a puppy, you must be able to make a ten- to 15-year commitment to that animal, and with cats it can be up to twenty.
You’ll need to figure out what breed would be a good fit for your lifestyle – do you want a dog to run with or a couch potato? Then go to a well-regarded rescue organization, ones like Pet Rescue in Harrison, Labs4Rescue, CT Dachshund and Pet Rescue in Connecticut, the SPCA in Briarcliff, New Rochelle Humane Society, or North Shore Animal League to name a few, and talk with the staff there about what type of dog would best fit your family. It’s probably a good idea to wait until your children are 8 or older before adopting a dog. Then remember that each and every dog needs patience, love, and training. But once that is done, you have both saved a life and made a best friend. Does it get any better than that? I don’t think so.
As always, we hope you will share your rescue story with us at RyeRescues@gmail.com. Also please know that you can help rescue animals in many ways including dropping off food, towels, and other supplies at local shelters, volunteering to walk or play with the animals or by making a donation. A donation as small as five dollars a month matters in rescue, so please consider a gift of any size and make a difference. Lastly, if you are willing to open your heart and your home but cannot make a long-term commitment, why not foster? Fosters are critical to the success of any rescue because they provide an additional spot for an animal, a temporary home and socialization.
Adopt Don’t Shop – Thank you for considering rescue!