Has Lyn Ofrane, portrait photographer, philanthropist, animal lover and activist, got an offer for you.
If you have rescued, fostered, or adopted a pet, Ms. Ofrane, a decades-long photographer, will take a professional portrait of you, your family, and your pet(s).
It’s a wonderful keepsake, as well as her way of saying thank you to the folks for doing the mitzvah of saving an animal’s life, said Ms. Ofrane, who helps families navigate the adoption process whether through the rescue organization on which she volunteers as a board member — Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge in Oakland — or through other facilities.
Ramapo is “the number one no-kill shelter in Bergen County,” Ms. Ofrane said. “We partner with a whole bunch of other rescues and shelters,” and it does much good work.
Ms. Ofrane’s work at the shelter has made clear how many dogs and cats still need homes, especially and, surprisingly, after Covid.
While demand for pets went through the roof during the height of Covid and lockdown, there have been far too many “surrenders” turning up at shelters and rescue facilities. Those surrenders are dogs purchased from nefarious breeders or puppy mills that didn’t work out with their owners, dogs that became ownerless due to Covid deaths of their owners, dogs that were snapped up during the Covid craze, but were not well matched with the owners and the owners no longer want them, dogs that have fallen victim to their owner’s Covid-downturned financial situation — these are just to name a few reasons. There also are plenty of kittens, a burst from this summer birth boom, that are being housed at the rescue facility, said Ms. Ofrane.
The need for adoption is still great.
“The need is very high,” said Megan Brinster, executive director of Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge. “There was a short burst where we were able to save a lot of lives (during the height of Covid), but that has not been sustained.”
Ms. Brinster described Ramapo as a place that “roots for the underdog and the undercat” — whether there is a medical need, or if the animal has reached its senior years, the facility will keep its animals for the duration of their lives.
In fact, owner to three dogs, Ms. Brinster has adopted from the shelter, a 13-year-old toy poodle, a former show dog that now is blind and has epilepsy. “He was once completely cared for and shown and groomed” and when that part of his life was over, he was put out to pasture, she said.
For this special population, Ms. Brinster said, Ramapo is looking to build senior housing for its oldest animals. “We plan on building a senior center for those who have been retired so they can live comfortably or until they find a person who might adopt them.”
Eric and Christine Wein of Cresskill, and their daughters, Jocelyn, 6, and Leila, 3, count among their family, two rescues, Sammy Davis Jr. (Sammy), a 6-year-old great Dane and lab mix, and Eleanor Roosevelt (Ella), a 7-year-old Australian shepherd and Jack Russell mix.
Their names (“We live among pet celebrities,” quipped Eric) are just a hint of the family’s good-spirited nature.
“We just love dogs,” said Eric. “We’re dog lovers, and we believe in rescuing and adopting the dogs to save their lives. You are actually saving two lives, the dog you rescue and another dog that could take its place in a shelter until it finds a forever home.”
Their pets are great companions with different personalities. “Ella is a healer,” Eric said. “She has a loving soul and can connect to people. Sammy is more of a gentle giant and a huge goof ball. But they are both all love.”
While their daughters are still young, both help care for their pets, going on walks, and feeding them.
Eric, who runs his own real estate company, Teaneck-based Wein Agency Realtors, said it was important that the adopter matches the personality of the pet. “You want to find a dog that matches your energy. I think that’s important.”
For the Brown family of Paramus, their two rescues, Lexii, 4, a beagle-border collie mix and Starr, a purebred beagle, add to the love quotient in the house as well as help to teach their two sons, Avery, 12, and Jesse, 10, responsibility, said Merav Brown, whose husband is Sandy Brown.
“We bought a dog when we were first married,” said Merav. “We went to the pet store and saw a dog we liked and my husband gave them a low-ball price, way lower than what they wanted. They said yes.” That dog, Newkie, was a good companion, but eventually died. They got Lexii from the Bloomingdale Animal Shelter in Bloomingdale and later Starr from Bonnie’s Animal Rescue Kingdom (BARK) in Paramus.
The giving keeps giving. Their soon-to-be-bar mitzvahed son, Avery, is raising money for BARK as his mitzvah project. (See page 13.)
“I think adoption of a rescue is a great thing to do,” said Merav. Not only to save a life of an animal, but she said to “know that we’re helping to control the pet population. It honestly feels like a mitzvah because of where the dogs could and often do end up.”
To get in touch with Ms. Ofrane for your pet or family pet portrait, firstname.lastname@example.org.