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Shelter dog wags at WPL 

by Lauren Schiavone 
Hometown Weekly Staff

Baypath Humane Society Volunteer and animal foster mom Michelle Kreell has been helping cats and dogs find forever homes since 2013. Kreell visited the Westwood Public Library with companions Lane, a rescue dog, and Marley, a stuffed animal pooch, to teach children and families about pet fostering, adoption, and shelter life. 

Baypath estimated that there are around 70 million homeless and feral animals in the United States. Based in Hopkinton, Baypath rescues dogs and cats exclusively. Kreell gave an interactive presentation for those interested in helping lower this statistic. Lane, originally Kreell’s foster dog, was afraid to come out of his crate for a year. Deciding the dog wasn’t adoptable, Kreell adopted him herself. Marley is a stuffed animal that accompanies Kreell on her travels. Marley helps shy visitors and those who are allergic to pets feel comfortable and included during the program. “We need families to learn about taking care of their own animals and maybe one day, shelters won’t be necessary,” Kreell stated. 

In terms of meeting a dog for the first time, Kreell expressed that a gentle and cautious approach is best. “The first thing you should do is ask the owner!” she advised as she prompted patrons to practice asking owners for permission to pet their dog. “The reason being is not all dogs like to be pet. Not all dogs like strangers, or even kids!” A demonstration of a proper introduction continued when Kreell held out a hand flat for Lane to smell before petting him. “You never want to hug or kiss a dog [at first.] This is the way kids get bit in the face. Dogs get scared,” she cautioned. The best way to take care of your pet?  “Be their friend,” she reassured. “Treat them gently. Love them and make sure they’re safe with you.” 

One at a time, kiddos patiently lined up to meet both Lane and Marley before departing. They put their knowledge to the test by following Kreell’s instructions to the letter, which resulted in a calm and comfortable meeting. Lane was patient with each visitor and excited for pets and treats. Little ones extended a flat, open palm for treats and pet Lane on the head. Marley received lots of love, too, and was great exposure for shy toddlers, allergic visitors, and babies.

In the last year, the Baypath Humane Society has seen 400 dog adoptions, 619 cat adoptions, and 417 fosters. Animals available for fostering and adoption are visible on their website at The Westwood Public Library is also taking donations of food, blankets, towels, toys, and more. 

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