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    New homes found and second chances given at Tompkins County SPCA

    Carter (foreground) and Penny were adopted from the Tompkins County SPCA by Mark Anbinder. Both were picked up as strays.
    By Kellen Beck and Sam Kuperman

    Mark Anbinder knew what he was getting into when he adopted his dogs from a shelter, rather than from a breeder. “There are plenty of dogs who need homes already,” he said. “No need to encourage someone to make more.”

    The two dogs, Penny and Carter, were brought to the SPCA over a year apart, and with the help of staff and volunteers, found a home with Anbinder in Ithaca. He adopted Penny in 2013 and Carter this past January.

    “I’m telling people they’re both 4 years old,” Anbinder said about his two unidentified, mixed breed dogs. They were both strays with an unknown past; the best he and the Tompkins County SPCA have is a rough guess at an age range.

    The SPCA shelters companion animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, chinchillas, reptiles and more, according to their website. The number of adoptable animals available can change on any given day, as animals come to the shelter and others leave once deemed adoptable.

    Sarah Post, annex and adoption manager at the Tompkins County SPCA, said when dogs come in they are fully taken care of medically. Veterinarians from the Cornell shelter medicine program come in to help out.

    “It’s great because animals get four or five sets of veterinary eyes looking at them,” Post said.

    The SPCA also have a program that covers the cost of spaying and neutering for individuals who can’t afford it.

    “We’ve been fortunate in getting grants that help individuals who may be receiving public assistance or are on foods stamps and couldn’t ordinarily afford to get their animals neutered,” she said.

    Dogs come in from all sorts of different situations; some were strays, others were rescued from abusive or neglectful homes, and some were given up because the owner moved.

    When Anbinder first adopted Penny, he said she was friendly and already well-trained. Carter was more excitable around other dogs and it was suggested that he be placed with a family where he would be the only dog. But after months of no adoption, Anbinder convinced the SPCA to let him slowly introduce Penny and Carter, and eventually brought Carter home.

    “He was happy to see Penny when he got home, and then he curled up on the couch,” Anbinder said. “The next day they were curled up together. They curl up with each other on the couch all the time.”

    A big reason why this SPCA is able to be so successful with adoptions is the budget it has to work with. The Tompkins County SPCA operates on an annual budget around $1.3 million, according to Lynne Conway, volunteer and philanthropic programs manager.

    A portion of this budget comes from various fundraisers throughout the year. One of the largest for the SPCA is the March for the Animals, which took place Oct. 4. The event, which was first started six years ago, has increased the amount of money it’s raised every year. In 2014 the event raised over $119,000, and this year may very well top that figure, with over $110,000 raised as of Oct. 5.

    The money raised from this event goes towards medical costs for the animals held at the SPCA. Between events like the March for the Animals and the partnership the Tompkins County SPCA has with the Cornell Shelter Medicine Program, the animals are checked up on extensively.

    With this partnership, doctors and students from the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine are able to monitor these animals around the clock. The way it works is that there are two or three main vets working at the SPCA, with students getting hands on training and helping out.

    In some cases, people that visit the Tompkins County SPCA are very surprised at how well the place is kept up and how well the animals are treated there. This was exactly how Riley Ludwig felt back in May when she walked through the doors of the facility for the first time. Ludwig, a sophomore at Ithaca College, volunteered at the SPCA this summer as a Canine Companion.

    “When you go there you don’t feel depressed because of these dogs because often people think ‘oh these poor dogs’ but it’s like here at the SPCA these dogs are treated really well,” Ludwig said.

    Some staff and volunteers even stay connected with the dogs after they have been adopted. Anbinder said Carter was a huge favorite at the SPCA.

    “I’ve had a parade of visitors to come see him since I adopted him,” he said. “I made it clear that everyone is welcome to come say hi. It has ranged from college students who volunteer there to retired people who spend afternoons there walking the dogs or whatever.”

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