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Family Reunions For Pets Growing In Popularity

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(credit: CBS) Erika von Tiehl
Erika von Tiehl is co-anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning on C...
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By Erika Von Tiehl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some people dread going to the family reunion, but we’re finding some pet owners are actually thrilled to go to their pet’s furry family reunion.

That’s right! We found owners of animal rescue groups are hosting four-legged gatherings so littermates can reunite.

A party that goes to the dogs, so to speak.

Erika Von Tiehl reports on the happy reunions.

“Oh, look there’s your brothers and sisters,” exclaimed dog owner Eileen Silva at a recent pet family reunion.

This is the first time Silva’s mixed-breed terrier Bonnie and her littermates saw each other since they were puppies.

Separated shortly after birth, Bonnie and her siblings were adopted out to new families who were able to connect at this pet reunion party.

“Oh, this is so wonderful, isn’t it,” exclaimed a very happy Silva as she met the owners of the other dogs.

They all compared pooch personalities and traded doggie DNA test results which reveal the many breeds that make up their mixed-breed family members.

All while Bonnie, Inca, Lilly and Rosie had lots of playtime.

“It was amazing, they knew each other right, right away,” said Silva.

Happy pet family reunions are a growing trend.

“With the advent of Facebook and other social media avenues, people are reaching out to find out what’s happening, who are their siblings and where they come from,” said Edilia Vasquez who heads up a rescue group called All Sato Rescue.

The rescue is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives, and reducing the numbers of abandoned dogs.

Among the reunions this day, three lab-mix littermates all grown up and meeting at the reunion for the first time since they were adopted.

“That is the coolest thing in the world for us, it’s amazing,” said Vasquez. “I mean it’s just crazy when you think of it, it’s the extended family really.”

From birthday parties to “search parties,” social media can be key to tracking down your dog’s relatives.

But, will they recognize family?

“There’s no science that says dogs remember littermates, that they remember who their parents are,” says animal behavioral specialist Karen Okura.

Still, Okura helped organize a reunion for a rescue dog named Rita and her pups on their first birthday.

“The owners get to see the siblings of their dog and say ‘hey my dog does that too isn’t that funny that you know she runs the same way or that they like the same toy,’” said Okura.

And while pet owners may be excited for the reunion, experts say watch your dog carefully to make sure it is enjoying the party.

Depending on how well socialized your pet is in groups, it might not be comfortable in such an active situation.

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