Wiltonian helps German shepherds find forever homes

Kendra Baker photos
In an effort to help save hundreds from high-kill shelters, abuse, neglect, and abandonment, Wilton resident Eleanor Sasso helps Passion Works Rescue, a Connecticut-based organization, train and find forever homes for German shepherd rescue dogs.

Sasso, along with her 5-year-old German shepherd, Largo, Passion Works founder Tina Zinn and her sister Sonya Zinn, were outside Village Market on March 30, talking to people about the dogs.

With the group were two adoptable German shepherds — a black 6-month-old named Pride, who Sasso said is “sweet and happy” and gets along with other dogs, and a “sweet and gentle” 2-year-old, long-haired shepherd named Kingsley.

Passion Works process

Sasso said Passion Works has “a very unique” rescue and adoption operation.

“I don’t know anybody else who does this on the East Coast, but we have five or six people really looking out for what a family’s specific needs and wants are in a dog,” she said.

Passion Works takes a number of factors into consideration when placing a rescue dog with a family, said Sasso, including — but not limited to — the ages and behavior of children and pets in a household.

“I look around for adoptive families, and Tina actually is the rescuer. She has people that we call ‘pullers’ and ‘fosters’ in California, which is where the dogs primarily come from,” said Sasso.

“We go to high-kill shelters and after we find out what a bunch of our families are looking for — color, age, gender — we go and specifically look for a perfect fit for them.”

When a match is found, Sasso said, a puller will take the dog from the high-kill shelter and give it to a foster in California who spends two weeks figuring out the dog’s temperament. The dog is then flown to Connecticut and Tina fosters and vets the dog for another week or two before introducing it to interested families.

Sasso said “a lot of Wilton families” have adopted German shepherds.

German shepherds

Sasso said she trains and takes care of all dog breeds, but German shepherds are her favorite.

“They’re one of the smartest dogs around and they could be taught to do anything.” They are good family dogs but they need proper socialization and training.

“They need a challenge, they need a leader,” she said, “and they need to be acclimated and socialized from as early an age as possible to as many people as possible.”

Not only will German shepherds protect the family, said Sasso, but they’re also “fabulous with children.”

“As rough and tough as they look, when they get with a child, they just know and become so tender and gentle,” she said.

To learn more about Passion Works, email passionworksGSD@gmail.com or call 203-830-9774.