Wiltonian brings German shepherd rescues east

Christopher Burns photos

Though a sheltered German shepherd is hard to find in New England, hundreds of the dogs sit in shelters and rescue operations in California, says Wiltonian Eleanor Sasso.

So to help Fairfield County residents connect to these dogs-in-need, she is doing her best to bring German shepherd rescues to the East Coast, where they may find a better life.

Ms. Sasso recently began representing the interests of Westside German Shepherd Rescue of Los Angeles, and hopes to help the organization place dogs in this area.

“In California, there are a lot of strays and unwanted German shepherds. If they don’t end up at rescues, they end up at different high-kill shelters,” she said.

“The dogs are the best ambassadors,” Ms. Sasso said last week while handing out information at Village Market with her own shepherd, Largo.

“I’ve had German shepherds for my entire life, and I adopted all of them. But two years ago, I tried for months and months to find a German shepherd to adopt, and I could not find one. That’s the reason why I headed west. That’s why I would have a dog flown all the way here.”

German shepherds are well known as obedient, loyal and playful dogs.

“Energetic and fun-loving, the breed is very fond of children once a relationship is established. He is a loyal family pet and a good guard dog, the ideal choice for many families. He requires regular exercise and grooming,” the American Kennel Club says.

In Connecticut, German shepherd rescue operations do exist, but many have yard-size and fence restrictions, Ms. Sasso said. The fence restrictions are especially difficult in a town like Wilton, she said, where three- and four-acre yards are common.

Bringing dogs to the East Coast, Ms. Sasso says, is a much easier process than many would think.

“I flew my shepherds here. It’s really no big deal for the dogs. The only airline I would use, United Airways Petsafe, cares for the dogs beautifully, even in the midst of winter.”

Many may balk at adopting a dog they’ve never met “in person,” Ms. Sasso said, but Westside’s volunteers closely track and record the temperament of every dog they take in.

“They supply you with a lot of information and communication via videos, pictures, and consultation with the foster family to make sure they line you up with a dog best suited for you,” she said.

As part of her service with Westside, Ms. Sasso will go out to a prospective adopter’s home and make sure it is compatible with highly active German shepherd dogs, just to be sure.

Right now, the company is taking care of “over 150 shepherds,” Ms. Sasso said. The cost to adopt from Westside is anywhere from $150 to $400, she said, plus the cost of getting the dog to Wilton. The adoption fee goes into caring for “the next dog they’re going to help.”

Ms. Sasso also owns an animal care business in Wilton, taking care of dogs, cats, and horses for short or long periods of time. She also does training, medication administration and general animal care.

For more information on adopting a German shepherd or on her small business, email Ms. Sasso at easassa7@icloud.com.