For dogs, cats and people, a match game

Esther awaits a possible new owner at the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn's Landing. She was there with Katerina Minakakis of Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia.
Esther awaits a possible new owner at the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn's Landing. She was there with Katerina Minakakis of Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 17, 2014

PHILADELPHIA Damien, a jet-black pit bull whose paws and tail are tipped in white, knows just one trick. But it came in handy Saturday at the "With Love: Soul Mate Skate" at Penn's Landing.

"If you're like, 'Come here,' " Lindsay Sharpless said, holding her hand to her mouth and pinching her fingers like pursed lips, "he gives you kisses.

"We're working on sit," the Chester County SPCA volunteer added, as Damien layered her face with licks.

Making love matches was the goal Saturday.

But Samantha Jones, president of Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia, the event's organizer, said the wider hope was to continue breaking down the stigma surrounding shelter pets in a city where animal controllers euthanized a third of the animals they took in last year.

"They're just dogs. They're just cats," Sharpless said. "They need love like anyone else."

There was a lot of it to go around at the skating rink, where a dozen adoption groups set up with 30 orphaned dogs and cats in tow.

The rain, which made the nearby ice rink glisten, didn't deter Cupid.

Rudy, a cat whose owners lost everything in a fire, greeted a few potential soul mates at his cage.

Stella, a 13-year-old German shepherd mix whose age will be her biggest obstacle to finding a home, warmed hearts as she repeatedly rolled out for belly rubs.

Lola, a pit bull who snorts when excited and burrows into her foster mom's bed every morning, met and quickly took a liking to a young Philadelphia couple.

The pair had to put down their dog Violet, whom they adopted just nine months ago, on Wednesday, after what they thought at first was a persistent cough turned out to be lung disease.

"She had the best little life. It wasn't long," the woman said. "But we loved her super hard."

On Saturday, they gingerly started the process of finding a new dog to love.

Stacy McCoy, who fosters up to nine dogs at a time and manages to walk them at once by keeping the sprightly ones on one hand and the docile dogs on the other, warned them that Lola is needy.

But in a good way, she said.

"She'll sit right next to me," she said, "and be like, 'You're going to love me.' "


tnadolny@phillynews.com

610-313-8205

@TriciaNadolny

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