Coco was practically unadoptable – she had been returned to the animal shelter twice because of behavioral issues. But because of one selfless teen, she is like a new dog. She and the other dogs now have an agility course where they can learn to focus and be confident, giving them a much better chance of finding a good home.
Coco the Boston terrier mix likely had been abused by a man in her past, because she is very uncomfortable around men, making it difficult for anyone to want to adopt her. But now she’s learning all sorts of new tricks on the obstacle course at the Southold Town Animal Shelter in New York – even with men around.
“This equipment is great because she has been mentally worked out and physically worked out,” said Gina Lepine of the North Fork Animal Welfare League. “Dogs need to think. Agility builds confidence and focus in a dog. It makes them better pets. And it makes them more adoptable.”
This play center will also be helping the other 14 dogs at the shelter. All but the seniors who are not physically well enough to participate will get to have fun learning and cavorting. And all of this is because of 17-year-old Maddalena Mineo.
Maddalena is a senior at Mattituck High School, and spent the winter in her basement designing and building the equipment. She loves animals, and used to write the Critter Column, which advertised adoptable pets in her school newspaper.
She is a Girl Scout, and was required to complete a project to receive the highest honor of a Gold Award. She had to identify an issue, investigate it, create a plan, and make it happen.
“When it came time to pick a project, I came to the animal shelter,” she said. “Animals have always been a big part of my life.”
Her request to help the shelter couldn’t have come at a better time. Shelter board member Marlene Ferber said in addition to the new agility garden, they were considering an agility center for the dogs.
“Maddalena is so handy,” Marlene commented. “We are so excited to be working with her.”
All the staff members were excited to see the completed project.
“It is great to see everyone’s reaction,” Maddalena said. “I was horrible at workshop, so this makes me feel better about that.”
Maddalena’s family and community pitched in with the money needed for supplies. The Mattituck Lions Club donated $500 to the cause. The NFAWL hopes to add more to the outdoor area, but for now, the dogs will be enjoying their summer at their new playground.