LOS ANGELES -- Ivan, Domino and Joshua arrived together at the animal shelter when their ailing owner could no longer care for them. To get adopted, they will need to go as one.
The shepherd-husky mix, Dalmatian mix and Benji lookalike will stay at the New York shelter until someone will take all three because the owner took legal steps to keep his dogs together and well cared for before he entered a Texas rest home.
Despite email blasts to supporters, social media posts and a video on talk show host Howard Stern's website, there have been no takers since they arrived June 14 at a Long Island shelter.
The plight of the threesome points to the challenge of finding homes for multiple pets that must be adopted as a package deal to honour a previous owner's request or to keep inseparable pets together. Shelters and rescue workers have to get creative in their pitches to place multiple animals in the same home.
"They are such a dignified trio of dogs," said Joanne Yohannan, senior vice-president of operations for New York's North Shore Animal League America, said of Ivan, Domino and Joshua. "It's going to take a very special person, someone who has the room and will love them."
To help with a multiple adoption, some shelters waive adoption fees or sponsor two-for-one deals. When shelters across the country cope with an annual kitten population explosion, prices drop drastically for those who can take multiple pets. There are lots of extras thrown in too, like spaying or neutering, microchips and collars.
If a bonded pair is separated, animals could exhibit bad behaviour, such as destructiveness or aggressiveness toward people, said Gail Buchwald, senior vice-president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"In these cases, it is certainly the case that two are better than one," she said.
Two weeks after Laura Morse and her family moved from Arizona to Florida 3 1/2 years ago, their cocker spaniel died. Morse started searching for a new dog and found Thor and Zeus on a St. Louis rescue's website. They had to be adopted together because Zeus wouldn't eat without Thor.
But not every package deal is a match made in heaven.
Julie LeRoy, animal care manager of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Kingston, N.Y., said she was "hell bent" on adopting several pairs of dogs together.
"One of my biggest failures was adopting out two of the most fearful and shut-down dogs -- Cherry and Sundae," LeRoy said. "We could not get them to respond to anyone or anything. They were adopted by an elderly couple together and we all thought, 'Jackpot."'
Seven months later, the couple brought the dogs back, in worse shape than they started. They've since been placed in separate homes and have blossomed. The families are neighbours so the dogs still get to see each other.
Martie Petrie, co-founder of Ken-Mar Rescue in Los Angeles, saved Manchester terriers Candy and Cane in 2008 as their time at a shelter was running out.
At the shelter, they'd been separated so long that Cane "had emotionally, physically and spiritually checked out," but he rebounded when reunited with Candy in a foster home, she said.
There was interest in adopting one, but not both until Petrie got an email from a Lake Tahoe couple, who'd read about the two in a newspaper article. They drove to the rescue for their (motor) home inspection before leaving on a long road trip. That was Dec. 29, 2008.
Every year since, Petrie has received a Christmas card from the couple somewhere in the United States with a photo of Candy and Cane in their new holiday sweaters.
-- The Associated Press