5 min read

Shelter Dog Is Helping Other Animals Get Presents For Christmas

Here's how to donate a blanket to a homeless pet.

If ever there was a dog who made his peace with shelter life, it's Buster.

In fact, he's made more than his peace with it.

He's made a happy home with his Mama Gillian. And Mama Arielle. And Aunt Jess. And Uncle Joe. And the list of staff and volunteers who make up his family goes on and on.

If Buster's life was a sitcom, it might even be called The Buster Bunch.

You see, since Buster arrived at the North Fork Animal Welfare League as an 8-month-old puppy back in 2011, no one has shown any interest in taking him home.

So instead, shelter volunteers have become his family.

"You know, the funny thing is, I really honestly believe he thinks that shelter is his home and we are his family," shelter volunteer Valerie Sanks, or Mama Valerie, tells The Dodo. "He's not the typical kind of dog that gets upset when he goes back. He's happy when he goes to his bed. He knows his people. He has aunts and uncles."

Although this pit bull has spent most of his doghood at the shelter, his mighty heart has bounded far beyond its gates. In 2013, Buster, who loves getting blankets as gifts, inspired Sanks to start a campaign appropriately called Blankets for Buster and His Friends.

The idea? To give every shelter dog in New York state a blanket for Christmas.

"With the help of 11 other angels, we got phone calls, texts and private messages and collected 150 blankets," Sanks says.

The next year, the group collected 610 blankets. The year after that? 2,200.

This year, Sanks is setting the goal at a lofty 10,000 blankets - enough to give every shelter dog in the state a toasty gift this winter.

And Buster's even got room in his heart for shelter cats - with organizers expanding the drive to ask for toys for them.

As for Buster, coddled in his own blankets and surrounded by mamas and aunts and uncles, he isn't going anywhere.

Why would he? Sanks says the North Fork Animal Welfare League is a bright light among shelters.

"It is how every animal shelter should be run," she says. "Not only with the ideas and the time and effort they put into the dogs, but the love they put into the dogs. You will never find anything better than that."

Buster seems to agree.

"We're all his family," Sanks says. "He looks at the other dogs and says, 'Please help them. Please help my cousins find homes.'"

"He loves it," she adds. "He is my everything. I consider him my best friend. He's my soul dog."

And there may be just enough of this pit bull's gentle spirit to cover an entire state.

"He's truly the one dog that is trying to change the world and he's doing it one blanket at a time," Sanks says.

Want to give one of Buster's friends a blanket this holiday season?

You can send it to Valerie Sanks, PO Box 262, Rocky Point, New York, 11778.