Tonawanda News

May 19, 2013

Consider Diamonds in the Ruff

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Iris the Queen, a 5-year-old pitbull, was surrendered in August 2011. She had delivered four litters of puppies and was in a home where she was left in a room. Iris had an infected mammary gland that had ruptured and her owner could not care for her anymore and was going to euthanize her. 

Volunteers from Diamonds in the Ruff set her up at their rescue facility in the Town of Lockport and took turns staying with her so she would not be alone.

They observed her behavior and after months of treatment at Companion Care Animal Hospital, Iris the Queen was given a clean bill of health.

Iris loves people, but was selective in the type of dogs she would tolerate and did not like cats.

With these requirements, placing her was going to be tricky. A couple months ago Iris found a new permanent home, with caregivers who spoil and adore her.

This is just one of the touching achievements Diamonds in the Ruff has made since it officially began operating in the spring of 2011. The facility Iris was at houses two to three dogs — depending on their temperament — and around ten cats. 

Diamonds in the Ruff does not like kennels, so the dogs’ temporary housing includes couches, day beds, toys and music. The dogs also have a large fenced-in yard where they can get daily exercise. The cats reside in a “catroom” that also includes beds and toys with the addition of cat towers and bay windows for optimal viewing. 

This type of atmosphere, they say, will allow for a smooth transition as the animals get adopted out. However, most of the animals are located in foster care, with their team of volunteers, throughout Western New York.

The rescue was started by a small group of passionate pet caregivers who met volunteering at a shelter. They had different ideas on how animals should be housed which led them to start their own rescue.

The rescue operates and pays for the health of the animals strictly by their own efforts. Currently they have around 20 dogs, 15 cats and 15 exceptionally involved volunteers.

In addition to providing foster homes, volunteers visit the rescue’s facility and check on the animals during one of the four shifts per day. Many volunteers check in during non-scheduled shifts to visit, socialize and enrich.

Maria Sansone, one of the founding members, believes “A potential pet owner should consider DITR because they would be saving a life when they adopt from our rescue.” 

Sansone also serves as a board member and treasurer at the rescue. 

 “We save lives by pulling dogs from death row in shelters, taking in homeless, abused and neglected animals and also re-homing people’s unwanted pets.” 

The adoption process includes filling out an application, setting up a meeting with the family (including current pets), calling vet references and a home visit. 

Fostering is another option for those looking to help. After filling out an application and a home visit that meets their criteria, DITR does the rest. The rescue pays for all of the needs of the animal including food, veterinarian bills and supplies. 

“Someone should consider fostering because it’s easy, rewarding and it allows us to keep saving animals that need to be rescued,” Sansone said. “The most difficult animals to foster and adopt out are older animals, ones with medical needs and bully breeds because of preconceived reputations they have.”

All of the volunteers at DITR are employed full-time elsewhere and do this work in their spare time. 

Other volunteer opportunities include helping maintain and clean the facility, web design and maintenance, grant writing, printing of tickets and posters and helping with fund-raising events.

If you are looking for a critter companion that has some hidden, but exceptional characteristics and a lot of potential, look no further.

These jewels will truly stand out from the crowd. Sansone notes, “We see the beauty in any animal regardless of what they look like or what they have been through.”

To find out more about this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization you can visit their facebook page found through Critter Companions or their website:

Kenny Coogan has a B.S. in animal behavior. Please email your questions to, or search for “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook.

Kenny Coogan has a B.S. in animal behavior. Please email your questions to, or search for "Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan" on Facebook.