October 9, 2012
Methuen, Mass. Oct. 9, 2012 – On the heels of making the emotionally trying decision to return “Sophie”—a beautiful white Bichon they adopted from the MSPCA-Angell in Jamaica Plain, Mass.—to her original owners who never gave up hope that they would find their missing pet, the Snellman family of Belmont, Mass. welcomed a new, lookalike dog named “Bentley” into their home last week. They adopted the six-month-old Bichon Frise after meeting him at the MSPCA-Nevins Farm, where he had been surrendered by his previous family after suffering a broken leg.
The Snellman family made headlines when they returned Sophie to the Rowan family of Whitman, Mass. in mid-September, after adopting the small white Bichon from the MSPCA. Sophie had gone missing a month earlier and was dropped off anonymously at the MSPCA’s Boston adoption center. Staffers were unable to determine at the time whether Sophie had an owner so, after holding her for ten days, they put her up for adoption.
The Snellmans fell in love with Sophie on a visit to the shelter and decided to adopt her. After having her for only two days they received a call from the MSPCA informing them that Sophie did indeed have a family, and that they had been searching for her for weeks. “It was so hard to receive that call,” Kaisa Snellman later said. “Our son Max was so taken with Sophie, and she had immediately bonded with him. I knew it would be difficult to break the news that we’d have to return her, but we knew it was the right thing to do. So that’s what we did.”
One Door Closes and Another Opens
The MSPCA doubled down its efforts to find the perfect family dog for the Snellmans after they bravely parted with Sophie. It just so happened that Bentley, also a Bichon and of similar size and temperament as Sophie, had arrived at the MSPCA-Nevins Farm after his leg was broken and his then family decided not to keep him. His injury was serious; he had surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center to re-align and stabilize his leg bone with pins, and required weeks of cage rest—which is so difficult for a dog as active and playful as Bentley.
Upon hearing of the Snellman’s experience with Sophie the MSPCA-Nevins Farm team reached out to gauge their interest in meeting Bentley. Said Mike Keiley, Director of the Noble Family Animal Care and Adoption Center: “We knew it was a sensitive time for the family and their comfort was our top priority. We didn’t want them to feel any pressure to adopt Bentley because of what happened with Sophie.” He added, “We approached the introduction with no expectations, but of course we were delighted when the family expressed an interest in him.”
Keiley also relayed that only five Bichon-type dogs had been surrendered to the MSPCA in the last year. Given that relatively small number it was a surprise to all involved that the perfect dog arrived just as the Snellmans were evaluating their next move.
Upon meeting Bentley the family—especially young Max—agreed he would make an excellent family dog. And, most importantly, they were willing to see him through the ongoing recovery from his leg injury. Bentley is now settled into his new home. “This story has come full circle,” said Kaisa. “Sophie is safely back in her original home and we are the proud owners of a wonderful, playful dog who is fully of puppy energy. We are so happy that everything worked out this way.”
The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals. Please visit www.mspca.org.