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Sterling, MA Animal Shelter Needs Your Help!

Updated on August 20, 2009
Iris, An Adoption Success Story
Iris, An Adoption Success Story

Animal Shelter Inc., Sterling, MA

The holiday season is the perfect time to give to those less fortunate, including those with fur, paws and a tail! “Every nose needs a home” is the slogan for Animal Shelter Inc., located in Sterling, Massachusetts.

Formed in 1988, Animal Shelter Inc, is a no-kill animal shelter with no time or age restrictions. Their mission is “To provide humane sheltering and high quality medical care for stray, unwanted, abused and neglected animals and to find loving, lifelong homes for orphaned pets.” Their staff is focused on finding good homes and on-site veterinary care for the over 3,000 animals that come through their shelter each year.

As a result of the current economic conditions in the United States, many animal shelters are seeing an increase in the number of surrendered pets, while experiencing a drop in donations. There are some pet owners who can no longer afford proper care and feeding for their animals. And, with more jobs being lost daily and fear of future layoffs, consumers are keeping tight reigns on their non-critical spending.

This Sterling, MA landmark, is supported entirely by donations from private individuals and through adoption & surrender fees. They do not receive support from any government or non-profit agencies.

I recently caught up with Leigh Grady, the Executive Director of Animal Shelter, Inc.

1) Leigh, how has your shelter been impacted by the recent economic conditions?

“Not only our shelter in Central MA, but shelters nationally are being overwhelmed with calls on people needing to surrender pets due to foreclosures and limited pet friendly housing. It’s very unfortunate that landlords don't allow pets... many of these landlords could fill vacant rental properties if they'd allow potential renters to bring their family pets.

We've all heard about the Katrina situation... many people didn't evacuate because they didn't want to leave their pets behind... the same thing is true with foreclosure. Families are losing everything...pets are comforting...they are a bond that a family shares and losing a family pet is devastating emotionally and mentally...I've heard many stories about people living in their cars with their pets because they just didn't want to give that last piece of themselves up when they'd already lost so much...I can't imagine...

Donations are also way down...adoptions have slowed - although recently they've picked up again. But there was a good month where we did minimal adoptions and that was a chain reaction... pets aren't adopted... no room to accept new ones...we had to turn many people away. There simply was NO ROOM AT THE INN.”

2) How is your shelter different from some of the other shelters in the New England area?

“Our shelter has so many programs for pets and people. We maintain a 100% compliance rate on spay/neuter and all animals leave our shelter s/n and fully vaccinated and medically cared for their age.”

Save A Sato Program
Save A Sato Program

The programs Leigh refers to include….

• Save A Sato Program – – Established in May 1999, the Save a Sato program is a joint life-saving venture with animal rescue volunteers of Puerto Rico. Hundreds of homeless, starved, poisoned and tortured animals are rescued and rehabilitated and sent to our shelter each year,

• Seniors 4 Seniors – Established in October 2000, this program supports older people who need and want animals to give them love and companionship throughout their golden years. Because the staff recognizes that pets can be expensive if one is on disability, Social Security or limited income, the shelter waives the adoption fee of any qualifying animal at our shelter 5+ years for an adopter 55 years or older.

• Puppy Rescue - Established Summer 2000 – The Sterling shelter rescued thousands of puppies and dogs that would be slated for euthanasia at high kill shelters in TN, VA and Puerto Rico.

For a complete list of the shelter’s programs, visit their website,

3) Your shelter runs 100% on surrender/adoption fees, the occasional grant as well as donations. This must be challenging..

“Despite the fact that we exist day to day on the fees/donations we STILL manage to exceed care and support for the pets in our care. Again, we spay and neuter all pets. We treat Upper respiratory, Heart Worm and a multitude of other illnesses and maladies.

Many shelters would be forced to euthanize animals such as this. We've raised money for individual animals that have needed extensive orthopedic and eye/ear surgeries and we've even raised money for Timmy... a beagle who needed almost $10,000 worth of heart surgery. You can see his story here. Timmy is now in his loving home over a year later and doing very well. We continue to pay for his 6 month EKG's for follow up.

Sadly...many of these animals would be euthanized...we are fortunate enough to have kind supporters who go above and beyond for these special cases.”

If you would like to donate to Animal Shelter Inc., you can make an electronic, credit card donation via their website or send a check made payable to "Animal Shelter, Inc." and sent to the following address: Animal Shelter, Inc., 17 Laurelwood Road, Sterling, MA 01564.

Order Your Donation from & Ship It Directly To The Sterling Animal Shelter. No Donation Is Too Small!

Ship To:

Animal Shelter, Inc, 17 Laurelwood Road, Sterling, MA 01564

4) If people would rather donate items instead of money, what do you suggest?

“Everyday boring things like non clumping cat litter, toys and treats for the dogs/cats, canned dog/cat food, paper towels and liquid laundry detergent, paper plates, heavy duty extra large contractor bags...”

5) Is there a specific adoption success story you would like to share?

“We've had so many….. We rescued a litter of hound mix puppies from death row in VA - turns out a few of them were blind. We had a teacher who drove from Canada (she taught in a school for the blind) to adopt one as an example to the kids that that this puppy was very special just like them.

We've also adopted out a little dog from Puerto Rico we rescued that was badly abused, skittish and wouldn't let anyone get near her. A 10 year old and her grandmother who had custody as she was taken from her parents who physically and sexually abused her came in to adopt a dog... despite all the happy dogs that were desperate to go home with them there was that little dog that cowered in the corner. Well the little girl said "I like her" and despite our concerns about the dogs personality we let them in to the kennel...that little dog bonded immediately with the little girl and it was instant rehabilitation for both of them... off they went to help each other heal.”


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    • lmmartin profile image


      9 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      A very moving story Reynolds Writing and one we are hearing in many variations from everywhere. It would be wonderful to save them all, but we can't. I know of many shelters operating day to day on a shoestring and it is heart-wrenching, to say the least. One great program I've heard of with one of the big dog food companies as a sponsor, is food banks for pets. Is there one of these programs in your neighborhood?

      Just one more point, and not to sound critical, but I question the policy of spending $10,000 on one dog, not matter how happy the ending of his story, when that same money could have saved a thousand healthy dogs.

      I have taken this information and posted it on several rescue sites to see if some donations are forthcoming. Keep your fingers crossed.

      In these hard times, every available dollar is chased by so many....


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