Surviving ‘Stratford 22’ mastiffs get together for ‘family’ reunion

Three of the original 22 Stratford mastiffs from an alleged animal abuse case that are still alive get reaquainted at a reunion at Pine Park in Broadalbin Saturday sponsored by the Brennan Memorial Humane Society in Gloversville. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

BROADALBIN — Dogs like reunions too.

Ten remaining mastiffs adopted after an alleged animal abuse case in April in Stratford were reunited like a big family Saturday at Pine Park. They sniffed and nuzzled and wagged their tails. They hadn’t forgotten one another.

The reunion, called “The Stratford 22 Reunion,” even though only 10 remained alive, was “just for everybody to see how they’re doing now that they’re in their own homes,” said Christine Rust, president of the James A. Brennan Memorial Humane Society in Gloversville.

The owners shared stories of how their dogs regained trust and confidence.

“Emotionally he [Captain] was one of the most traumatized,” said his adopted owner, Dave Vigliotti of Johnstown. “He was very skittish, scared, very unsociable,” he said.

The 10 surviving mastiffs of the original 22 rescued from an alleged animal abuse case pose with their owners at a reunion at Pine Park in Broadalbin Saturday sponsored by the Brennan Memorial Humane Society in Gloversville. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

Fostered by Vigliotti since Memorial Day and adopted in mid-August, Captain was a mere 71 pounds then after his previous owner allegedly failed to properly nourish the 22 dogs.

Captain is a husky 115 now, but still a little shy around everyone but Vigliotti.

Vigliotti said he spend “a lot of time with Captain,” even taking a week off from work to be with him 24/7 when he first arrived.

Walter, a mastiff adopted by Lonnie Honsinger of Guilderland, went from 92 to 140 pounds with his new owner. “It’s like night and day from where he was then to where he is now,” Honsinger said.

While he said Walter trusted him immediately, he was not used to normal sounds and happenings, such as a car coming to a stop sign or a lawnmower.

From left, Dave Vigliotti of Johnstown with Captain, Lonnie Honsinger of Guilderland with Walter and Lorrie Venneman of Gloversvillle with Lola share stories about their adopted mastiffs. The dogs are three of the original 22 Stratford mastiffs from an alleged animal abuse case that are still alive at a reunion at Pine Park in Broadalbin Saturday sponsored by the Brennan Memorial Humane Society in Gloversville. The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff

“When he heard a knock on the door, he was skittish,” he said. “Now he wants to lick everybody.”

Honsinger said he named his mastiff after one of the state troopers who saved him.

Lorrie Venneman of Gloversville said Lola was “a little shy at first,” but her two rescue dogs–a greyhound and golden retriever–made Lola feel right at home.

Jamie Evertsen of Hagaman, who works for the Brennan shelter, said she was very heartened to see how the mastiffs’ conditions have improved.

“They have gained weight, their coats are shiny, they seem happy, and they’re getting along so well.” she said.

She said it’s experiences such as this that make her say, “I love my job. It’s the best job I ever had.”

“I just love to see how they turned out,” said Shelley Case of Gloversville.

She said she recalled how terrible they looked before they were taken in by the Brennan shelter.

“No dog should live like that,” she said.

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