It seems as if Patsy Topping has brought new meaning to “a warm and fuzzy Christmas.” Ms. Topping, who lives in South Carolina, arrived at her Bridgehampton farm early Friday morning with 20 puppies and young dogs saved from high-kill shelters in the South.
Ms. Topping grew up on the South Fork but apparently developed a heightened sense of animal cruelty and the effects of animal overpopulation when she moved to Camden, S.C. Working with an animal shelter at which the euthanasia rate tops 80 percent, Ms. Topping has been rescuing its denizens as much as she can for the past few years, bringing adoptable dogs to the Animal Rescue Fund since 2008.
Before the dogs arrive at the Wainscott facility, Ms. Topping fosters them for two weeks to double-check their health and sociability.
“Most of the dogs are very friendly,” said Michele Forrester, the director of ARF’s operations. “We have one shy guy here now. But for the most part, they are happy, healthy animals.”
A litter of 10-week-old black Labrador puppies was taken to ARF as part of the rescued group from South Carolina. They were then sent to be adopted out of the Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. The remaining 13 dogs are at ARF, where they are typically held for two weeks before being made available for adoption. “They should be ready right after Christmas,” Ms. Forrester said.
The most recent rescued dogs range from 3 months to 3 years old. “There are black Labs, yellow Labs — they’re very desirable dogs,” she said. “And all these precious little dogs would have been euthanized.”
Ms. Forrester is aware that some have questioned whether ARF is fulfilling its mission statement — to provide “for the welfare of dogs and cats on the South Fork of Long Island through shelter and adoption services” — when some of the animals offered come from points west or south.
“Someone’s always going to say, ‘What about the animals here?’ ” she said. “Well, the Northeast had this problem years ago, but we are so advanced with our spay and neuter programs up here that, luckily, unwanted animals are less of a problem than they used to be.” She said ARF still takes in animals whose owners can no longer care for them here.
She also pointed out that young dogs find homes faster. “This is what the general public wants. They’re going to pet stores to buy puppies, and here we are rescuing them.”
Ms. Forrester is confident that the dogs taken to ARF by Ms. Topping will be adopted quickly and in a home, scratching by the fireplace, in time for the new year.
The ARF facility, on 22 acres in Wainscott, can house around 130 animals. Since the organization was formed in 1974, it has placed approximately 18,000 animals in homes.