There are many animals deserving of a home during the holidays, but there is one who has spent years in the shelter waiting for just the right people to love her.
Ember is a 7-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier mix, making her a senior in dog years. But she has spent more than two years of her life in the Manatee County Animal Services shelter.
In March, Ember was featured in the MCAS “Lucky Pet Promotion” after being at the shelter for more than 600 days, as reported by ABC Action News.
Kassandra Zess-Pagel, Vice President of Friends of Manatee County Animal Services and an MCAS volunteer who regularly handles Ember, described her as a playful and attentive dog who is a “volunteer favorite” around the shelter.
“She’s blossomed since she came from where she was,” Zess-Pagel said.
Ember arrived at the shelter on July 5, 2016, in poor health with little hair after she was found roaming through Bradenton.
With medical treatment, her health returned — and so has her hair — but she still has an ongoing skin allergy and occasionally gets coconut oil rubs along with dry eye issues that can be treated with eye drops.
“She was scared when she first came in but she has warmed up to so many people. She’s a huge love bug,” Zess-Pagel said.
Shelter staff thought Ember’s story came to a happy ending on March 21 when she was adopted. But five months later, she was brought back to the shelter after her new owners adopted another pet.
Ember was returned to the shelter in August, where she has been since.
Now, shelter staff and supporters are working to find Ember her true home for the holidays.
After being in the shelter for years, Ember’s favorite place to go is the “real-life room,” a room at the shelter designed and furnished to feel like a home. Zess-Pagel said Ember will direct her straight into the real-life room during walks.
Once inside, Ember will pull her favorite toy, a tennis ball, from the basket and play until she is ready for a nap. That’s when she will snuggle up on the couch next to Zess-Pagel and fall asleep.
But when Ember is outside, she loves to romp and roll around in the sun.
If you have always dreamed of dressing up your dog, Ember is your girl. Zess-Pagel said Ember is “extremely tolerant” and loves to get dressed up in hats and outfits.
Zess-Pagel believes Ember would do well in a home with other dogs, though a meet-and-greet is strongly recommended.
Ember, according to shelter staff, gets along with other dogs, but tends to disagree with cats. While she loves people, homes with small children are not recommended because of Ember’s visual impairment. She knows several commands, loves treats and dressing up in hats and sweaters.
“I think she’s being overlooked so much, but she’s an absolute sweetheart inside and out,” Zess-Pagel said.
Patience and lots of love are the best Christmas gifts for this dog.
“Once you’re in Ember’s world, it’s, ‘I love you and I trust you,’ ” Zess-Pagel said. “Once you get to know her, you kind of see her inner beauty, too.”
Brandon Petefish of Painting with a Twist, 5917 Manatee Ave. W., painted a picture of Ember. The painting will be gifted to Ember’s adopter.
Anyone interested in adopting Ember can contact the Manatee County Animal Services shelter at 941-742-5933 or visit the shelter, 305 25th St. W., Palmetto, during their extended holiday hours.
Palmetto shelter holiday season hours:
- Monday-Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Downtown Cat Adoption Center, 1002 Manatee Ave. W., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dog adoption fees are $80 and cat adoption fees are $40. All cat and dog adoptions include spay or neuter, microchip and rabies certificate. Manatee County residents are required to license their new pet for an additional $15.