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Animal shelters provide a home until a forever home is found

GREATER WESTFIELD-While the local animal shelters tend to see mostly kittens, cats and dogs in their care, once in a while there is a special animal or reptile that comes through the doors needing a new home.

“Steve,” a juvenile leopard gecko, is among the current residents at the Westfield Regional Animal Shelter in need of a new home.

“Due to a structural fire at a home recently, the owner of two geckos had to decide what was in the best interests of the geckos and chose to give them to us to find them new homes,” said Margaret Terkelsen, animal control operations manager.

Westfield Regional Animal Shelter animal control officer Jess Carrington holds “Steve,” a leopard gecko currently waiting for a forever home. (MARGARET TERKELSEN PHOTO)

Since the geckos arrived and were featured on the shelter’s Facebook page, Terkelsen said she has received several calls.

“Frank, the older gecko, did find a home already so Steve is still waiting to be adopted,” she said, noting that geckos eat primarily crickets and mealworms. 

“You can purchase those bugs at any pet or feed store,” said Terkelsen.

Terkelsen noted on the Facebook post that geckos in captivity can live up to 20 years if provided the correct surroundings to live a healthy life.

While geckos are a bit out of the norm for pet adoptions at the Westfield shelter, Terkelsen said they did recently have a stray domestic duck that had gotten loose.

“We also receive injured wildlife on occasion, and in the last two weeks have had two porcupines,” she added.

On the morning of Feb. 17, Terkelsen also posted pictures of a ring neck dove, a pair of parakeets, and a “plethora” of cockatiels that are also ready for their forever homes.

“The parakeets and cockatiels are very shy and are not hand trained,” the post said, adding, “but with patience, we think these beautiful little feathered friends will come around.”

The cockatiels range from 1 to 4 years of age, and the parakeets are about 1-2 years old.

“The parakeets are a bonded pair that will need to be adopted together,” according to the Facebook post. “The cockatiels should also be adopted in pairs. The ring neck dove is a sweet boy about 10-years-old.”

For complete shelter hours, adoption and reclaim fees, and dog license details, visit The shelter is located at 178 Apremont Way.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions at this time, the animal shelter is open by appointment only so to plan a visit call (413) 564-3129.

For persons who have lost a pet, Terkelsen said it is important to call the animal control office as soon as possible. Stray dogs and cats will be held for 10 days and owners are responsible for paying a boarding fee of $15 per day and a $60 administration fee. Additionally, owners must show proof of a current rabies vaccine for dogs and cats, and a current city license for dogs, in order to reclaim one’s pet.

If the pet being reclaimed is not up-to-date on the required items, animal control will ensure the animal has the necessary vaccines, and the fees will be added to the total reclaim cost.

For persons interested in adopting an animal from the shelter, the fee is $165 for a dog, $125 for a cat and $175 for a kitten. A drivers license or state ID must be shown at the shelter.

Monetary donations are always welcomed as well as pet supplies including clean blankets and towels, cat litter, dry and wet cat food.

“We have a list of items on a Westfield Animal Shelter wish list on Amazon,” said Terkelsen, noting residents may also call the office to inquire whether there are other specific needs not listed.

Animals currently available for adoption include “Luna,” a female white and black Great Pyrenees; “Betsy,” a 7-year-old black and white cat; “Mr. Fezziwig,” a 2-year-old male gray tabby, and “Fireball,” a male orange and white cat.

Pippi Longstocking at the Westfield Homeless Cat Project needs a home. (DENISE SINICO PHOTO)

Kittens and cats are also available for adoption through the Westfield Homeless Cat Project at 1124 East Mountain Road. Denise Sinico has overseen the shelter for 14 years.

“Our kittens right now are in foster homes or are being readopted,” said Sinico, adding she expects more kittens to arrive in the spring.

Phoebe is currently at the Westfield Homeless Cat Project and needs a forever home. (DENISE SINICO PHOTO)

“Most of our cats are feral right now,” said Sinico, noting once they are either neutered or spayed, then trappers return them to their feral cat colonies if people will feed and shelter them.

“If someone calls about a feral cat, we trap them, bring them to the vet, vaccinate them, make sure they are in good shape, and then trappers put them back in their colonies,” said Sinico, adding, “They are not adoptable.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited fundraising options for the shelter, Sinico said there is an ongoing jewelry fundraiser at Choice Health in Westfield.

“Sue Ellen displays gently used women’s accessories and jewelry items that are donated to us,” said Sinico. “When someone purchases an item, Sue Ellen sells it and makes a donation to us.”

Items that are always being sought include purses, scarves, gloves, women’s sunglasses and costume jewelry.

“We will also be collecting tag sale items soon for a spring tag sale,” said Sinico.

Sinico has had to cut back the hours for people to visit and see the animals due to the pandemic.

“We are open Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-3 p.m.,” said Sinico, adding, “We ask everyone to wear a face mask.”

Daisy, currently a resident at the Westfield Homeless Cat Project, needs a forever home. (DENISE SINICO PHOTO)

For Sinico, “every day is an adventure.”

“I never know what I am going to wake up to,” she said, adding, “especially the cats we see that are in rough shape. I am here for the animals and I do what is right for the animals.”

For more information, call (413) 568-6964 or send an email to [email protected].

In Southwick, animal control officer Liz Bennett said all animals had been adopted out at press time. 

“We only have two semi-feral cats at this time,” said Bennett, noting one cat had just been picked up in Granville.

Bennett said that microchipping one’s pet can help animal control officers alert the owner quickly.

“We had a chicken recently and after we posted a picture on our Southwick Animal Shelter Facebook page the owner showed up,” said Bennett. “We do see roosters dumped because nobody wants them.”

Shelter hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

“We are not open during the weekend,” said Bennett, adding that if an animal is picked up after hours on a Friday, the owner will not be able to claim the animal until Monday.

Current fees for adopting a cat is $140 and dogs are $160.

“When someone adopts an animal they can be assured the vaccines are up-to-date, the animal is spayed or neutered, and microchipped,” said Bennett.

For persons reclaiming a dog, there is an impound fee of $30 and $15 per day if the animal is not licensed and vaccinated.

“The fees must be paid so the dog leaves here licensed and vaccinated,” said Bennett.

For persons reclaiming their cat, Bennett noted she does not charge a fee.

“If a cat is caught, we just return it to the owner,” she said, adding, “this is why it is always a good idea to have the animal microchipped.”

Bennett added that when an owner realizes a pet is missing, it is best to give the office a call as soon as possible.

“If you are missing your pet always give us a call,” said Bennett, adding, “We may have found it already.”

For more information on Southwick’s shelter, call (413) 569-5348, ext. 649. For persons interested in seeing what animals are available for adoption, visit and select the town of Southwick.

For town residents who wish to make a donation to the animal shelter, Bennett said clay litter and bleach are always needed.

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