Bucky and Dr Cline from VCA ShorelineToday OPIN received an emergency call from our friends at VCA Shoreline in Shelton,CT. We were told about a very brave (10) week old shih tzu that needs help. The owners“claim” to have taken this puppy to a dog park where he was attacked by another dog.

The majority of the damage was to his eye area and enucleation surgery (eye removal)was required. The owners chose to leave this beautiful puppy behind, surrendering him to VCA Shoreline.

VCA Hospital in Norwalk saved our beautiful Lucy (Norwalk dog burned in fire) last January, and now their sister hospital, VCA Shoreline in Shelton. is doing the same for this puppy!!

Jen Colucci (OPIN Co-Founder) and I visited this pup this evening. We named him Bucky- for his strong superhero nature! Bucky licked our faces, loved the hugs and attention, and demonstrated the fact that he is an incredible four pound bundle of joy!!

Bucky is still on intravenous antibiotics and painkillers- he is young and strong and will heal. The fact that he has one eye will not prevent him from living a long healthy life.Bucky will need time to heal and then will go up for adoption.

Please help us raise funds for Bucky- every dollar helps! Tax deductible donations may be made on our web site - just click the "Donate" button over there on the left and place Bucky in the comment area,  or mail to OPIN PO Box 488 Riverside, CT 06878

No Caption Needed, Just Look at This . . .


Here are Kerri, Lucy and Kelli in a recent photograph.

This picture really does say it all.

 If you could have seen first-hand the condition poor Lucy was in just six months ago,

it would make your heart burst to witness how far she's come and how happy she is now.

Look at that smile!

 We thank all of you sincerely for sending your love, your prayers, your good wishes,

and, of course, your generous donations.

We know they played a significant part in her recovery.

 In honor of Lucy's phenomenal turnaround, OPIN has established the

We Love Lucy Fund

to provide veterinary care to other pets, like Lucy, with catastrophic medical needs.

With your support, we can continue to help all the ones who need us.


Thank you from all of us, but especially from Lucy.


Look at Lucy Now ! :-)

     There's been so much progress in dear Lucy's recovery since the last posting here!  Just compare the two photos above, and you'll see how far she's come -- thanks not only to her own amazing strength and spirit, but also to the outstanding medical care she's received, the love and attention of her doctors and technicians and OPIN volunteers (most notably Co-President Ali Girardi, who visited her virtually every day), and the spiritual and financial support of people from literally all over the world who've devotedly followed her heartwarming story.

     Currently Lucy is being fostered in the loving home of Kelli and Kerri, two sisters who cared for her throughout her recovery at VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Norwalk, Connecticut.  These dedicated and compassionate professionals grew to love sweet Lucy as they tended to her physical and emotional needs throughout her recovery, and, just as important, Lucy grew to trust and love them too.  With the occasional visit to Ali's house to hook up with "Ali's zoo" (including four wonderful dogs who always welcome Lucy with exhuberance and camaraderie), our little champion finally is living the good life she so deserves.

     What could have been just another tragic horror story of animal abuse or neglect -- of which, sadly, there are far too many -- is turning out to have a very happy ending.  Thank you to everyone who said a prayer, shed a tear, called or wrote or emailed to express concern and support, made a contribution, or shared this story to raise others' consciousness about the proper respect for, and treatment of, all pets.  PLEASE, don't become complacent just because Lucy's story is concluding so favorably; rather, remember that there are millions of other Lucys out there, pets whose stories may or may not be as dramatic as hers, but whose needs for loving homes are just as great and just as urgent.  If you have room in your heart and your home, please consider adopting a homeless pet.

     WE ALL LOVE YOU, LUCY ! ! !


Lucy Continues to Improve!

     Yesterday, unfortunately, Lucy's tail had to be amputated.  Some people call this "docking," and they have it done to their dogs for so-called cosmetic reasons.  In Lucy's case, it was for medical reasons, as her tail had not been healing properly, and it was in danger of causing her infection and even more discomfort, which was about the last thing our long-suffering girl needed.  Lucy, in her courageous way, has responded well to the procedure, and even has been wagging her new little stub of a tail when visitors -- especially her BFF, OPIN's Ali Girardi (see photo, left) -- come to see her.

     OPIN has been swamped with offers of adoption for Lucy, and while we are grateful for the outpouring of love, nevertheless we can't even begin to consider them yet, while she still is hospitalized and recuperating.  Once Lucy is fully recovered and back to normal, then OPIN may evaluate her and consider what may be the best permanent home environment for her.  In the meantime, if you are prepared to open your home and your heart to a needy animal, won't you consider adopting one of the MANY other deserving homeless pets at your local shelter?  While their back stories may or may not be as dramatic and traumatic as Lucy's is, nevertheless each and every one of them deserves a loving home and the chance for a better life.  You will be rewarded with the same unconditional love and devotion for as long as you share your life with that animal.

     Thank you to all of you -- from all over the world! -- who have responded to this little girl's heartbreaking story with warm wishes, prayers, donations, and offers to foster and/or adopt.  If there is any power behind this spiritual outpouring, Lucy has "gotten" it, and she is improving beyond our expectations.

More Good News on Lucy!


Here is the latest update on our courageous Lucy, pictured with Isabel Morales, OPIN Co-President, on Day 9, as photographed and posted by OPIN Co-President Ali Girardi:

     Today was a page turner for Lucy!  She transitioned from intravenous medication to oral pain meds and antibiotics.  Lucy looked amazing!  She was so calm and relaxed as she sat and visited with us for a couple of hours.  Lucy has found her appetite and is very happy with her dog food.  She was extremely interested in Isabel, and after checking her out for awhile, Lucy decided to give her a kiss! We love Lucy!  

     Thank you, friends, for the kind emails, notes, generous donations and deep support!  Please help us promote pet adoption!  It's time to find forever homes for all the beautiful pets in stressful shelter situations!  This Valentine's Day, we can show them we care, and ADOPT!! 

     Thank You!!


A Positive Update on Lucy!


     The outpouring of support from all over the country has been amazing this past week, and OPIN gratefully has received many, many kind donations and adoption offers from compassionate people who have been moved by Lucy's sad story.  We're overwhelmed by the generosity of those who've never laid eyes on this sweet, heroic dog, but who nonetheless want to do whatever they can to share in her support at this desperate time.

     Look at Lucy's newspaper photo, above, as she's visited faithfully by Ali Girardi, OPIN's Co-President.  We are delighted to share that she seems to be feeling a little better.  At first she had no appetite, and a feeding tube was considered as a way to force much-needed nutrients into her struggling body in an effort to help it heal.  As of today, though -- less than a week after the incident -- she has improved to the point where she will eat a little bit, willingly, on her own.  And those who have been keeping a vigil have noted that she appears much brighter now than before.  We have very strong hope that her long-term prognosis will be good.

     Many kind people have submitted applications to adopt Lucy when she is ready to go to a permanent home, but it will be some time before that even can be considered.  For now, she needs round-the-clock medical care, and after that, she will need to be released to an excellent foster home where her recuperation may continue.  If you feel that you would be able to provide a nurturing foster home for our girl, to help her recover and learn to love and trust again, please contact us.

     Thank you to all who have helped so far, to all who yet will come forward to help, and to everyone who has noted this sad story and learned from it that animals must be treated with compassion and respect.

Please HELP -- Lucy's Life Depends on It!

Please Help Us Save This Precious Life!

Lucy is an innocent young mother who -- through no fault of her own (it had to do with a landlord issue) -- was "evicted" from her warm, safe home with her two infant puppies, and was banished to a cold backyard during the worst of the Northeast's frigid January temperatures, when nighttime wind chill factors were below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Her clueless guardian created a makeshift doghouse in the backyard, and added a space heater in the mistaken notion that this would solve the problem by helping to keep them all warm.  Sad to say, this ridiculous construct resulted in a tragic fire that not only killed the two helpless puppies, but also resulted in horrific burn injuries to poor Lucy, on whom the burning doghouse and adjacent fence fell, searing the melting tarp into the skin on her body.

OPIN, Inc. came into the picture and saved Lucy from death at the hands of those who believed she couldn't/shouldn't be saved.  OPIN has committed to do whatever it takes to provide this innocent, loving soul with whatever is necessary, not only to keep her alive, but also to allow her to thrive in a new and loving home in the future, beginning as soon as she may be released from the hospital.

It's difficult to look at the photos of Lucy in recovery, but if you can bear to do it, let them remind you of how much innocent animals suffer at the hands of evil and/or careless humans, and how much we all, as the so-called superior species, need to do to compensate for the cruel and thoughtless among us.

PLEASE, there are things you can do right now, this minute (as you're thinking about it), to help us help poor Lucy:

     > one, you can donate to our fund for her medical and recuperative care by clicking on our DONATE link and attributing your PayPal donation to Lucy;

     > two,  you can write a check to OPIN / P.O. Box 488 / Riverside, CT 06878-0488, and indicate in the memo line that it's for Lucy;

     > three, you can contact OPIN and offer to adopt Lucy (ideally), or at least provide her a warm and nurturing foster home as she recuperates and awaits permanent adoption, by going to the Help Out page and clicking on the Adoption, or Foster, application;

     > four, please spread the word about responsible pet guardianship everywhere you can: about the urgency of spaying and neutering pets (did those two puppies have to be born just to suffer in the freezing cold and then die tragically by fire?); and about keeping our furry children inside the loving circle of the family home instead of outside, alone, in the harshest elements (remembering that dogs, especially, are pack animals, and REQUIRE the company of their family members in order to maintain psychic comfort even more than physical comfort).

If this unspeakable tragedy helps to educate even one person in more responsible pet guardianship -- or, better yet, results in a new and loving home for Lucy -- OPIN's ultimate mission will be satisfied.  But right now, our immediate need is to give Lucy all of the love and support, financial and otherwise, that will contribute to her full recovery.  Please, can you help us?

Thank you!


SACC / OPIN and Saks Fifth Avenue Gift-Wrapping Collaboration a Huge Success!



 For the third consecutive year, Saks Fifth Avenue in the Stamford Town Center Mall

this holiday season invited Stamford Animal Care and Control volunteers

to gift-wrap customers' holiday purchases in return for donations to support homeless pets.

The results were amazing, resulting in at least one direct adoption, and reaping a very gratifying

financial benefit for the homeless pets to whom we dedicate this annual effort.



 We would like to thank especially Theresa Walsh, General Manager,

Paulette Pitt, Executive Assistant (our champion for the past three years),

and the rest of the SFA Stamford management team for their support,

as well as the many Saks associates who were so helpful to us throughout this endeavor.

But deepest gratitude and appreciation, as always, go out to our dedicated volunteers,

without whose efforts these initiatives couldn't succeed.

Thanks to the gift-wrapping team of Michael Albanese, Chantal Avignone O'Neill,

Lisa Bannerot, Jenny Colucci, Araceli Costa, Drika Costantino, Cindy Dunaway, Jeanne Feore,

Virginia Lentz, Katie Razzaia, Christine Seid, Carla White and Jane Wotton;

and to Andrew Mouradian, dog wrangler.

And extra special thanks to Dixie, Patina and Stella, our wonderfully appealing canine ambassadors!


To join the ranks of our outstanding volunteers, please contact carla@opinpets.org.


Adopting one saves two: the one you take home, and the one who takes his place. 



Pet video awards raise $21,000, Pavia announces funding for new shelter

Originally Published in Stamford Advocate

STAMFORD -- Paul Newman, playing himself onscreen, had clearly misbehaved: A pizza box and lone high heel lay strewn on the floor of the room as he snoozed on its couch and hugged a bottle of wine between his hindquarters. The time was 6:00 p.m. -- or was it 6:00 a.m?

No matter -- the basset hound, named for his blonde fur coat and blue eyes, knew what to do when he heard the foreboding knock at the door: He sprang from the couch, quickly disposed of the evidence, and situated himself right where his master had left him, on the floor.

Paul Newman's performance won him and his master, Karen Wells, Best Pawformance at the 2nd Annual Pet Tail Video Awards, a fundraising event for Connecticut pet rescue agency Outreach To Pets In Need and the Stamford Animal Care and Control Center.

Wells, who also won Best Pawformance last year, said Paul's model behavior has always made her a little suspicious: "What if he had a secret life when he did whatever he wanted?" She asked, grinning at a table inside the Gen Re Auditorium of the University of Connecticut's Stamford campus ---where the films were screened.

Appearing in "Secret Life of a Good Dog," Paul Newman was one of many pet performers whose on-screen antics were viewed at the ceremony held Friday night. Guests included Mayor Michael Pavia, who announced fresh plans to build a new animal shelter at the event.

Pavia was cornered by fans who were thrilled by his support for their cause. Saying he participated in animal rescue efforts when he was younger, Pavia told The Advocate that he still has the "same type of passion and commitment" to animal rights.

"I think I'm now in a position to help improve our not-so-fortunate animal friends," he said.

Asked if he had a pet of his own Pavia grimaced. He did, but did he have to share its name?

"My wife named her `Baby Cat,' so don't hold it against me," he said.

Baby Cat's hapless peers may have new help headed their way, according to an announcement Pavia made at the ceremony. Pavia said he has initiated plans to create a new animal shelter.

"I have set aside $75,000 in capital allocation to the study of design and development of a new animal center," he said, labeling the current shelter and beneficiary of the night, the Stamford Animal Care and Control Center, "a discarded stepchild of the city of Stamford."

The fundraiser featured screenings of 15 films, each nominated for one of five categories, as well as a 16th Best-in-Show film. In addition to the Best Pawformance award, which Paul Newman and Wells took home, the categories were Best Musical Tail, Best Rescue Tail, Best Real Life Tail, and Best Belly-Rubbin' Comedy.

For the awards, attendees purchased $60 tickets to get in the door. But donation opportunities abounded after they entered. Silent auction tables lined the foyer walls, featuring everything from autographed Yankees memorabilia to regal-looking dog portraits to hotel getaway deals.

Participants in Outreach To Pets In Need's foster program walked around four dogs in need of permanent owners amid the 200-plus crowd.

In addition to film screenings, the ceremony also recognized three volunteers as outstanding contributors to the organization. Laura O'Brien, Renee Dunaway, and Martina Steed, who volunteered their time fundraising, cleaning shelters, walking pets, and housing pets, among other things, received the awards.

The organization enjoys the support of about 130 volunteers, many of whom act as stewards of homeless pets until they find permanent homes.

Press Release: OPIN to Host Second Annual Pet Tail Video Contest and Awards Gala

STAMFORD, CT, February 10, 2011 – Outreach to Pets in Need (OPIN), the area’s all-volunteer non-profit advocate for homeless pets in Connecticut, is now accepting entries for its second annual Pet Tail Video Awards.  Award honorees will be announced and nominated videos will be shown on the big screen at the 2011 Pet Tail Video Contest and Awards Gala on Friday, April 15, 2011 at the University of Connecticut, One University Place in Stamford, Connecticut.

Now in its second year, the Pet Tail Video Awards is part of a benefit gala event hosted by OPIN and Stamford Animal Care & Control.  The gala incorporates the video award announcements with a silent auction and cocktail reception.  All funds that OPIN raises at this event will go towards their life-saving programs such as providing medical support for pets in need, pet-owner training programs, foster programs, and adoption initiatives.

The public is invited to submit entries in the form of a short (30 seconds to 3 minute) video, starring their pet, by visiting the OPIN website at www.OPINPets.org.  Submission is free and all entries must be received by March 13, 2011. 

The five award categories are Best Pawformance, Best Bell-Rubbin’ Comedy, Best Musical Tail, Best Real Life Tail, and Best Rescue Tail.

In addition to obtaining the best video award, nominees are also eligible to win a Flip Video camcorder and a Jasper Award trophy, OPIN’s version of the Oscar. Winning videos will be shown in full length on the evening of the gala.

OPIN to Host Second Annual Pet Tail Video Contest and Awards Gala (page 2)


About Outreach to Pets in Need (OPIN)

OPIN is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization whose mission is to decrease the population of homeless pets in Connecticut through medical treatment, training, public education, and placement programs. OPIN supports pets at Stamford Animal Care & Control and beyond, and provides temporary foster homes for pets of domestic violence victims and homeless pets. As well, they are a member of Pets for Patriots, an organization who helps military members honorably adopt adult shelter pets. For more information, please visit www.opinpets.org

# # #


Outreach To Pets In Need, Inc.
P.O. Box 488
Riverside, CT  06878



In the News: All in the Family: Keeping women and their pets together through the crisis of domestic violence

Originally Published by Best Friends Animal Society.

June 02, 2010, 4:47PM MT
By Kama Einhorn, Best Friends Network volunteer


Diamond the PomeranianDiamond is a happy 9-month-old Pomeranian who recently spent three days in foster care. The pup didn't know it, of course, but that foster home — and the people who moved swiftly to arrange it — was a key factor in keeping her human guardian safe from harm, and possibly the reason she didn't end up in a shelter.

There are many reasons pets are surrendered at shelters. Here is an especially heartbreaking one: a woman dearly loves her pet, but must leave her home immediately because her own physical safety is in jeopardy. 

Similarly, there are many reasons a victim of domestic violence opts not to go to a shelter or safe house. But, thanks to a newly formed partnership between the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) of Stamford, Connecticut, with Outreach to Pets in Need (OPIN), the fear of abandoning a pet doesn't have to be one of them. Together, the organizations will work to provide foster care services for pets whose guardians enter the DVCC's SafeHouses in Stamford or Norwalk.

Diamond was the very first pet to be helped by this new program. "We're just in the beginning of this process, and our focus right now is getting a network of foster homes in place," said Jenny Colucci, OPIN's co-founder. "So this was on an emergency basis, and a bit premature for us. But it is a true success. We picked Diamond up on a Monday at the crisis center and she was reunited with her guardian that Wednesday."

Her foster caregiver was a volunteer for OPIN with a flexible work schedule. She has no other pets because she and her husband move around a lot, but wanted a way to help pets and women at the same time.

"At first, Diamond was clingy and initially seemed afraid of my husband," her foster caregiver said. She understood that Diamond would need more care and attention than an animal coming from a peaceful home. "It was bittersweet when she left," she remembered. "I was so happy she was going back to her permanent guardian, but I missed her! I tried to mentally prepare myself for that, and I'll do the same next time I foster. I loved how DVCC, OPIN, and myself all came together and helped — and it worked!"

And if you've ever seen a very happy Pomeranian in action, you can imagine the beauty of the reunion.

The Domestic Violence Crisis Center offers confidential services at no charge, including court and legal services, group and individual counseling, temporary shelter, housing services, children’s services, medical advocacy, multilingual services, PeaceWorks prevention education and a 24-hour hotline (1-888-774-2900). Now, this new program represents a huge step forward in the understanding of the word "family." Family includes pets.

"This partnership is so important for victims of domestic abuse who have pets and fear for their safety," said Cyndy Goldberg, director of the DVCC SafeHouses. "It's heartbreaking when a woman who needs and wants a safe place to stay decides not to come to us because there is no way to accommodate her pet."

Abusers often threaten the welfare of pets in order to control the victim. Afraid to leave her pets behind, the abused woman may choose not to leave her situation. Goldberg says that several women each year decide not to come to a DVCC SafeHouse because of their pets, and there are undoubtedly others who don't call in the first place, because they know they can't bring their pets.

Because the program is so new, OPIN's immediate goal is to build a network of people who are willing to open their homes to a pet for a temporary stay. DVCC works to help women become settled in a safe, stable place within 60 days. 

"Fostering is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to those in need, both human victims and those they care deeply about, the companion animals who have found a place in their hearts," said OPIN co-founder Jenny Colucci. "OPIN will coordinate the foster home and provide medical care, food and supplies if necessary. But it goes without saying that without foster homes, this exciting opportunity can't exist."

Because of obvious confidentiality and safety concerns, Diamond's loving permanent guardian cannot be identified or make a statement. All DVCC and OPIN can say is that she and Diamond are living together in safety and peace. And that's a lot.

What you can do:

  • If you live in the area, offer your home as a temporary safe haven for pets. Applications to join the SafePet foster network may be found here.
  • Make a monetary donation to OPIN, P.O. Box 488, Riverside, CT  06878, or for further details email: outreach@opinpets.org, website: www.opinpets.org
  • Make a monetary donation to DVCC, 777 Summer Street, Stamford CT 06901, (203) 588 9100.



APRIL 20, 2010

There are many reasons a victim of domestic violence may opt not to go to a shelter or safe house, but now the fear of abandoning a pet doesn’t have to be one of them.

Thanks to a newly-formed partnership between the Domestic Violence Crisis Center and Outreach to Pets in Need (OPIN), foster care services will be available for pets whose owners enter the DVCC’s SafeHouses in Stamford or Norwalk.

”This partnership is so important for victims of domestic abuse who have pets and fear for their safety,” said Cyndy Goldberg, the Director of the DVCC SafeHouses. “It ‘s heartbreaking when a woman who needs and wants a safe place to stay decides not to come to us because there is no way to accommodate her pet.”

Goldberg said that several women each year choose not to come to a DVCC SafeHouse because of their pets and that there are undoubtedly others who don’t even call because they know they can’t bring their pets.

Because the program is so new, OPIN’s immediate goal is to build a network of people who are willing to open their homes to a pet for a temporary stay.

”This is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to those in need, both human victims and those they deeply care about, the companion animals who have found a place in their hearts,” said OPIN Co-founder Jenny Colucci. “OPIN will coordinate the foster home and provide medical care, food and supplies, if necessary. But it goes without saying that without foster homes, this exciting opportunity cannot exist.”

The program will be overseen by OPIN’s SafePet Program Coordinator, who will work with potential foster care providers and act as the liaison between them and DVCC SafeHouse staff Applications to join the SafePet foster network may be found here. Outreach to Pets in Need was founded in March 2007 with the mission to decrease the population of homeless pets through medical, training, education and placement programs. The organization works collaboratively with the Stamford Animal Care and Control Shelter.

The Domestic Violence Crisis Center is committed to promoting the fundamental right of all individuals to be safe in their personal relationships. With a professional staff who have years of experience and expertise in the field of domestic violence, the agency offers confidential services at no charge, including court and legal services, group and individual counseling, temporary shelter, housing services, children’s services, medical advocacy, multilingual services, Peace Works prevention education and a 24-hour hotline (1-888-774-2900). With offices in Stamford and Norwalk, DVCC is the only domestic violence agency serving the communities of Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Weston. Tn fiscal year 2008 - 2009, DVCC provided shelter and counseling services to over 4,000 unduplicated victims of domestic violence, and Peace Works provided programs to nearly 27,000 students and conducted workshops and awareness events for nearly 4,000 adults.



Domestic Violence Crisis Center
777 Summer Street
Stamford, CT 06901
(203) 588-9100

Contact: Kathy Lake Media Relations Advocate
Phone: (203) 588-9100
Email: klake@dvccct.org