BOSTON (CBS) – It was well after dark on an April evening, and you could hear the sound of barking dogs at the Christopher Cutler Rich Animal Shelter in Gloucester.
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Twelve dogs, part of the All Sato Rescue Program, had made the day-long plane trip from Puerto Rico to Logan Airport, and then the trek via cargo van to Cape Ann.
So far this year, All Sato Rescue has flown close to 250 Satos to shelter partners.
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“Sato is slang for ‘street dog,” explains Sunniva Buck, Executive Director of Cape Ann Animal Aid. “These dogs, most often are dogs that were owned by someone at some point, and were abandoned for one reason or another. They also have been fostered before being put on a plane.”
Buck says her job is very rewarding.
“Sometimes we see them in pretty rough shape when they first come in, and there is nothing like that feeling of watching an animal go from touch and go, to being robust and interactive and healthy and walking out your front door into this whole new life with this family that’s going to love them. It really is an incredible feeling,” she says.
Massachusetts law requires a 48- hour isolation period. The dogs undergo health exams, are spayed and neutered, and then featured on video clips and Facebook photos.
WBZ colleague Mark Katic took one look at my personal favorite, a Terrier-Chihuahua-Beagle mix rescued from a junkyard, and Mark now has a new puppy at home. He has named her Mochi.
“She is just a loving dog. We can tell right away, that, at least at the start of her life, she must have been around people. She loves to be around people,” he says.
Mark also prefers shelter or rescue dogs to a pure breed.
“These are animals that really want a home, and if you can show them that they can trust you, that you’re going to be with them every step and that you will provide that home, they will give you nothing but love and loyalty for the rest of their lives,” Mark explains.
Whether to adopt a rescue dog or buy a pure breed can stir up strong debate.
Theresa Stremlau of Arlington has been either breeding or showing Golden Retrievers for more than 25 years.
“I’ve had people accuse me of being judgmental. One woman said ‘you dog show people, you’re so critical,'” says Stremlau.
But Stremlau adds that with a pure breed, you know what you’re going to get.
She considers herself a steward of the Golden Retriever breed.
“You know what to expect with a Terrier. They like to dig. They bark. If you can deal with that, and the grooming, well then maybe you want a terrier,” she says. Stremlau explains whyshe chose Goldens.
“The Golden is just a beautiful, happy- go-lucky, sweet dog.” Stremlau also says buying from a reputable breeder is key.
She estimates a Golden Retriever in the Boston Metro area can range from $1,200 to $2,000- per puppy, and so she recommends always meeting with the kennel owner, making sure the breeder has done the proper testing and she says prospective dog owners should be asking the right questions.
“There’s no regulation that’s going to stop a person in Massachusetts from breeding their dog,” declares Stremlau. “But why is that person breeding their dog? Because it’s a nice Golden? Because it has a good temperament? I mean, they should all have that before you breed your dog. That’s a minimum.”
“Every breed has a breed purpose and a breed description and the description is usually based on the function of the dog. The form follows function.”
Listen: Pet Perspectives Part 8 with WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake
Troy Caisy knows a thing or two about the form and function of German Shepherd Dogs and the Belgian Malinois. Caisy is head trainer for the Boston Police K-9 Academy. Caisy started at the unit in 1992.
” Growing up, I always had dogs, always had pets, always had animals around me , so I have a love and a passion for dogs and I was able to apply that to my job, which enhanced my job even more,” says Caisy.
Salem Police Officer John Bedard and a 19-month-old German Shepherd named Thor. Salem recently raised $60,000 to reinstate its K-9 program, which had been eliminated in 1982. Officer Bedard was one of three officers selected for the program and says he knew immediately that he wanted to be paired with Thor.
“He lives with me 24/7,” explains Bedard. He has a Lab and a Pug who live inside, but Thor lives outside.
“He has his insulated dog house. “I love the little guy. He’s awesome,” says Bedard. “He does everything I want him to do. As far as being together for only six months, he’s attached to me and I’m attached to him.”
North Andover Police Lt. Detective Charles Gray remains deeply attached to his now retired K-9 partner Kyzer.
In November of 2007, Kyzer, also a German Shepherd, saved Gray’s life.
“We got a call to respond to a a tire shop in North Andover where there was a disgruntled employee who decided to go on a shooting rampage. I responded with Kyzer,” recalls Gray. After wounding one person, the suspect took off near the Lawrence Municipal Airport. Gray then spotted him near a runway.
“I felt that he was reaching for a weapon. It was one of those split second decisions you make as far as whether you shoot the person or release the dog. Kyzer was already out and actually bit the guy and grabbed the person. Every time he tried to reach closer to one of his guns, Kyzer kept pulling his arm back. So eventually we did get him placed into custody and recovered two firearms from his waistband.”
Gray says Kyzer did a great job.
“If that guy had reached for a weapon, had I shot him I would have to live with that for many many years, and if I got shot, I wouldn’t have gone home that night, so yeah, I look at Kyzer now and say that’s my partner. I love him. He’s my dog,” says Gray.
Gray also says Kyzer doesn’t realize he’s now retired.
“Every day, when I go to work, he sits there and looks at me in his kennel like ‘hey, are you gonna bring me today or not?’ and when I get home he looks at me like ‘hey, stupid, you forgot about me again.”