Working Together for a Second Chance: The Story of Sapphire

The story of a black Lab getting a second chance gives us a peek into the hard work happening at the North Shore Animal League of America every day.

Approximately 20,000 homeless pets a year are lucky enough to find themselves at the North Shore Animal League of America (NSALA), where they are certain to get a chance at a new life. Since 1944, this organization in Port Washington, N.Y., has been partnering with shelters and rescue groups across the nation to take in pets that are having trouble getting adopted and make a commitment to finding them a home. That process starts with medical care, along with a special belief in a pet's character.

Sapphire, a friendly black Lab mix, arrived at NSALA via Huntsville Animal Services in Alabama. She was a stray who came to the Alabama municipal shelter in the wake of the tornadoes that devastated the Huntsville area in the spring of 2011.

The staff at Huntsville recognized what a sweet and kind dog Sapphire was, but due to the increase in intakes that resulted from the disaster, they did not have the immediate resources available to provide care for her. They called on their partnership with NSALA to ensure Sapphire would be cared for and find a new home.

The staff was immediately impressed by Sapphire's remarkably good nature and gentle character. As they do for all rescued pets, they quickly set about giving her the best care possible. "When Sapphire was brought in, she had heartworm and was pregnant," says Sylvia Ottaka, Senior Director of Operations at NSALA. Staff and volunteers there helped cure her heartworm and celebrated when the dog gave birth to 11 healthy puppies.

At eight weeks old, the puppies from Sapphire's litter began to be adopted. When each and every one had found a family, it was time for Sapphire to get her chance at a permanent home. She was spayed and given a clean bill of health and a new lease on life.

Not long after being put up for adoption, Sapphire was taken home by her new family. As a stray, Sapphire had many experiences - from surviving a tornado to overcoming illness, travelling across the country and becoming a mom. Now, she gets to begin a new chapter as part of a family, with a future full of love, play and rest.

"So many animals need a second chance," says Ottaka. "In working with shelters in other areas, we can make a difference for animals that might not otherwise have that chance."

You can help give even more animals a chance by visiting NSALA's website