Josh Somppi, a longtime volunteer with I Heart Dogs Rescue & Animal Haven, had a loving heart for all dogs and cats, but especially large breeds and pit bulls in particular. Somppi passed away earlier this month at the age of 37 and on Saturday the Deathless Refuge where he spent much of his time hosted a special adoption event.
Instead of flowers for the funeral home, Somppi’s family asked people to donate to I Heart Dogs on his behalf. The shelter, which is located on Groesbeck Highway in Warren, decided to use this money to offset adoption fees for the larger dogs. The first 12 large breed dogs, or dogs weighing over 25 pounds, and the first seven cats or kittens adopted at the event had their adoption fees waived. Dog adoption fees vary between $ 150 and $ 325; fees for cats range from $ 75 to $ 90. Somppi owned a pit bull and four cats.
Staff and volunteers working at Saturday’s event were visibly moved when they spoke about their deceased colleague.
âJosh did it all,â said I Heart Dogs Events Director Cindy Yankly. âHe was funny, kind and hardworking. Anything that was broken or needed fixing, he would bring his tools and take care of it.
Somppi was also a home visiting volunteer who checked the homes of potential adopters to make sure there was a secure fence and the home environment was safe for the dog or cat when they arrived at their new home. .
“If someone needed to fix a fence, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them at Home Depot buy the supplies at their own expense and go fix the fence so the dog can find a home faster,” Yankly said. . âHe went out on pack walks, he did a lot of maintenance at the shelter and he also loved cats and kittens. He was simply priceless and everyone loved him. She was a very special person. “
Yankly and volunteer Judy Hey say large dogs tend to stay at the shelter longer than small dogs and puppies and are generally more difficult to place. Caring for and feeding a larger dog can be expensive, and at times people may fear adopting certain breeds such as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers.
âWe post pictures of our puppies and within days they are all recognized,â Yankly said. âIt’s the same with small dogs, but big dogs sometimes take longer for volunteers to get to know them better. We all love them, but we spend more time with the bigger dogs.
A stocky pit bull terrier / English Bulldog mix named Chumley clearly wanted to engage with anyone who approached his kennel. Several potential adopters watched him, and about an hour after the start of the one-day event, someone filled out an adoption application for him.
âYou can tell he’s just a big mushy guy,â said the potential adopter. “I think he’ll probably be a great couch potato.”
An active border collie mix named Mogwai was walked around by one of the staff at I Heart Dogs, enthusiastically greeting potential adopters. The Staffordshire Terrier, Vito, had his tongue hanging out from one side of his mouth and seemed to smile at anyone walking past his kennel.
“He sees all the other dogs and people and he just wants to run and play with everyone!” Volunteer I Heart Dogs said, trying to calm him down with jerky beef treats.
Judy Hey says I Heart Dogs currently has around 80 dogs at the shelter and 30 in foster homes. Sometimes there are “foster failures” where the person who welcomes the dog really bonds with him and decides to keep him. Dogs are typically at the shelter for two weeks before being posted as available for adoption. This gives staff time to assess the dog and determine if he likes other dogs, cats, children and the type of home he will thrive in.
âSometimes you have a dog that is a really good dog, but he has to be the only dog ââin the house,â said Hey, who thinks Somppi would have been delighted to see an event like this focused on placement. big dogs. .
Yankly said that while puppies are certainly adorable, there are some benefits to adopting an adult dog.
âThey’re generally quieter and don’t chew on your stuff as much and they might be toilet trained, depending on their background,â Yankley said. âThey already have their personalities and you know how big they’re going to be. “
I Heart Dogs adoptable dogs and cats can be viewed on Petfinder or by going to iheartdogs.org. Contact the shelter at [email protected]