Long-time I Heart Dogs Rescue & Animal Haven volunteer Josh Somppi had a soft heart for all dogs and cats, but especially for large breeds and especially pit bulls. Somppi died earlier this month at the age of 37 and on Saturday the no-kill shelter where he spent so much time held a special adoption event.
Instead of flowers for the funeral home, Somppi’s family asked to make a donation for I Heart Dogs on his behalf. The animal shelter, which is located on the Groesbeck Highway in Warren, decided to use this money to offset the adoption fees for larger dogs. The adoption fee was waived for the first 12 large breed dogs or dogs weighing more than 25 pounds and the first seven cats or kittens adopted during the event. Dog adoption fees range from $ 150 to $ 325; Fees for cats range from $ 75 to $ 90. Somppi owned a pit bull and four cats.
Staff and volunteers who worked on the event on Saturday were visibly emotional when they talked about their colleague who had passed away.
“Josh did it all,” said Cindy Yankly, director of I Heart Dogs Events. âHe was fun, nice, and hardworking. Everything that was broken or had to be repaired, he brought his tools and took care of it. “
Somppi was also a volunteer home visitor who checked the homes of potential adoptive parents to make sure there was a secure fence and the home environment was safe for the dog or cat when they got to their new home.
“If someone had to fix a fence, we wouldn’t be surprised if they buy the supplies at Home Depot at their own expense and fix the fence so the dog can get a home faster,” said Yankly. âHe came out on the pack walks, he waited a lot at the shelter and he also loved the cats and kittens. He was just priceless and everyone loved him. He was a very special person. “
Yankly and volunteer Judy Hey say larger dogs tend to stay longer at the shelter than small dogs and puppies, and are generally more difficult to pass. Grooming and feeding a larger dog can be expensive, and sometimes people are scared of adopting certain breeds like pit bulls or rottweilers.
“We post pictures of our pups and within a few days they are all taken,” said Yankly. âIt’s similar with the small dogs, but the big dogs sometimes take longer for the volunteers to get to know better. We love them all, but we can spend more time with the bigger dogs. “
A stocky mix of pit bull terrier and English bulldog named Chumley clearly wanted to get in touch with anyone approaching their kennel. Several prospective adoptive parents looked at him, and after about an hour of the one-day event, someone filled out an adoption application for him.
“You can tell he’s just a big, squishy guy,” said the prospective adopter. “I think he’ll probably make a great couch potato.”
An active border collie mix named Mogwai was run by one of the I Heart Dogs staff and enthusiastically welcomed potential adoptive parents. Vito, the Staffordshire terrier, had its tongue hanging out on one side of its mouth and seemed to be smiling at anyone who passed its kennel.
“He sees all the other dogs and the people and he just wants to run around and play with everyone!” Said the I Heart Dogs volunteer trying to calm him down with some beef jerky treats.
Judy Hey says I Heart Dogs currently has around 80 dogs in the shelter and 30 are housed in foster homes. Sometimes there are âfunding failuresâ where the person caring for the dog really bonds with it and decides to keep it. Dogs typically stay in the shelter for two weeks before being put up for adoption. This gives staff time to evaluate the dog and determine if it likes other dogs, cats, children, and the type of home it will thrive in.
“Sometimes you have a dog that is a really good dog, but he has to be the only dog ââin the house,” said Hey, who believes Somppi would have been thrilled to see an event like this, which focuses on big dog placement concentrated.
Yankly said that while puppies are certainly adorable, there are some positives about adopting an adult dog.
“They’re generally calmer and don’t chew as much of your stuff and may potty depending on their backgrounds,” Yankley said. “They already have their personalities and you know how big they will get.”
I Heart Dogs’ adoptable dogs and cats can be viewed on Petfinder or on iheartdogs.org. Contact the shelter at [email protected]