At a Mobile Pet Adoption Clinic, Dogs Search for a New Home

By Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio

Muddy Paws volunteers outside of the mobile pet adoption clinic Saturday afternoon. (The Ink/Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio)

One-year-old Snoopy seemed to be doing all he could to find a new home on Saturday. In his crate in a mobile adoption van in Chelsea, the black and white cattle dog mix jumped up eagerly to greet visitors.   

Snoopy was one of 26 dogs up for adoption at the mobile clinic sponsored by the animal rescue organization North Shore Animal League, and run by Muddy Paws Rescue, a nonprofit.

“The goal is to get all of the dogs into good homes,” said Linnea Iannazzone, development director and volunteer program manager at Muddy Paws. “It’s good to do it mobile because that way we get people involved even if they can’t adopt, and we get a lot of volunteer interest from these events as well.”

The dogs come from a network of intake shelters in the New York City area—Muddy Paws is a foster based-organization and doesn’t have one specific shelter to work out of, Iannazzone said. 

At one point on Saturday, 10 visitors hoping to pet dogs—and potentially adopt them—stood outside the mobile van in the piercing wind. 

“No more animals for you, you have enough in your house,” a teenager told a friend while they waited in line in front of the van.

“Do you want to go and play with the dogs?” a mother asked her child, attempting to calm him from a seemingly inane tantrum.

The mobile pet adoption clinics happen weekly on Saturday afternoons in front of Madison Square Park. Most of the dogs are adopted during these events, organizers said. The previous weekend Muddy Paws completed 34 adoptions at their clinic, they said. 

Some of the clinic visitors have been wanting to adopt a dog for a while, but first had to apply and wait for approval by Muddy Paws.

“The process of being vetted for adoption took a really long time,” said Alison Kirsche, 29, as she surveyed the dogs in the mobile clinic. “I am really happy to finally have gotten through it.”  

Applicants have to fill out a questionnaire that asks about their living conditions, their roommate situation and the noise and activity level of the household, among other details. Kirsche, a manager at a New York-based ad and media agency, said she had been waiting several weeks for adoption approval. She hadn’t seen any other adoption clinics that had been as well advertised as this one, she said.

“My friends and I have been talking about them,” she said.  “We saw them on social media, so I decided to come check them out.” 

Kirsche said she isn’t picky about which breed she’ll adopt. She was just hoping to take home a small to medium size dog that can fit in her New York apartment, she said. Though she didn’t end up adopting a dog by the end of the day, she’s planning on visiting more mobile pet adoption clinics in the future, she said.

Inside the adoption van, hopeful dogs waited in two rows of crates stacked neatly on top of each other. The high-pitched sounds of barking dogs—chihuahua, terrier and lab mixes alike— filled the crowded vehicle. Many of the younger dogs—ranging from 4 months old and up—jumped up energetically as visitors approached. Others attempted to sleep or rested their heads on their front legs, looking slightly dejected. Even Snoopy seemed tired out after a while.

Two dogs, Snoopy (right) and Fabio, wait for a chance at adoption inside the mobile pet adoption clinic. (The Ink/Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio)

Visitors were allowed to play with dogs they were considering and could take them on short leash walks near the clinic.

Outside the van, adoption counselors asked possible adopters what they’re looking for in a dog and gave advice about which breeds might be a good fit. Muddy Paws asks all individuals looking to adopt to come with a dog in mind, Iannazzone said.

Nationally every year, between 8 and 12 million dogs are put into shelters, according to the Humane Society of the United States. About 5 million of these dogs are euthanized if they cannot find a home. 

Outside the mobile adoption clinic, dogs held on leashes by Muddy Paws volunteers sported vests with one simple message for visitors: ”Adopt Me.” Inside, Snoopy and the others waited.