Tonawanda News

June 2, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Black dogs deserve good homes too

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The so-called black dog syndrome can be seen in shelters across the country. 

It appears that more often than not, dogs that end up in shelters have black coats. 

Animals that have black fur also have a harder time getting adopted. There are many speculations as to why this would happen, including foolish things like folklore portraying them as evil, black dogs are depressing, they are scary looking, they look too plain and even a trivial thing like they don’t photograph as well. 

In the summer of 2007 Black Dog Second Chance Rescue was started in East Amherst by Ginny Brown Cerasani and her husband Nate, who wanted to do more to help the underdogs of the shelter world.

BDSC is completely volunteered-based and a nonprofit-registered 501 (c) 3, and all the money they raise is used for the welfare of the animals. With approximately 30 foster homes, the rescue currently has 30 dogs, five cats and one rabbit. BDSC doesn’t discriminate against medical or behavioral needs, so some of the animals may be in the foster homes for awhile.

“Being a foster home can be such a rewarding experience,” volunteer Heather Stunkel said. “Foster homes are always needed and nothing feels better than helping out an animal who didn’t have a chance.”

Stunkel does caution that it can be challenging at times, but in the end it is well worth it. 

“Nothing is greater than to watch a foster transform into the healthy, happy dog or cat it should have always been.”

Fostering for BDSC is free with the rescue paying for all veterinarian needs and supplies. The foster family is responsible for providing room to romp, daily walks and a lot of love.

To become a foster with BDSC, Stunkel explained, you must fill out an application on their website and a volunteer will then set up a visit to your house. In addition to having the process explained, the volunteer also inquires on the type of animal the potential foster is interested in and discusses some possible matches. Type of homes, family members, other pets and daily routines are all considered. 

“If you have the time and desire to want to help and can offer an animal some much needed love,” Stunkel said “then you might make a great foster home for an animal.”

Many foster homes, as one can imagine, grow very attached to their fosters and find it difficult to say goodbye and adopt them out. The organization understands this and has a foster to adoption option. These families have been coined “foster failures.” Having the foster home turn into the permanent home is something BDSC likes to see.

If you are interested in adopting a critter companion from this organization you can visit their website or their Facebook page found through our page. Filling out an application will put you in touch with the foster home that has that individual dog. They can answer questions you have and update you on the animal’s preferences. The last step is for the foster family to take the potential pet to a home visit to meet the new family after a veterinarian reference is confirmed.

Stunkel says that most animals are in the rescue for at least three weeks before being listed, and all of them are taken to a veterinarian and vaccinated. During that time the foster homes learn the individual’s behavior.

“We often know if a dog is good with children, cats, other dogs, if they are housetrained, crate trained, and if they are high energy or more laid back just to name a few things,” Stunkel said.

Being able to provide this information to a potential family allows for a more transparent adoption process.

“We provide them with an adoption folder which provides helpful information for training and includes all the animals vetting records as well as a free first vet visit certificate to a vet of their choice,” she added.

Yesterday afternoon, the second annual Dogs Are Family Too! fundraiser was held. The event included live music, local rescue groups, vendors, dog demonstrations, a basket raffle and a dinner for purchase. The proceeds benefit the organization as a whole including five dogs that are being treated for heartworm disease and two dogs that had hip surgeries.

Additional fundraisers are held throughout the year. Monthly adoption events are held, which offer the opportunity to meet the animals and speak with volunteers to learn how to get involved. Specific time and dates are available on their website. In 2012 BDSC was able to rescue around 300 dogs and cats.

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