Lori Bradley-Millstein has a special place in her heart for dogs that most people don’t want to adopt. Many of these “challenging dogs” include pit bulls and other canines with special needs. Bradley-Millstein works tirelessly with rescue organizations such as CARE Southcoast in Acushnet to foster and rehabilitate these animals, She sometimes provides the dogs with a permanent home when other owners can’t be found.
In addition, the talented woman creates marketing materials to support the arts and pet-related causes.
The New Bedford resident, who grew up in New York State, says she’s always loved animals and fondly remembers a childhood pet named Pepper, an English Springer spaniel.
“She took care of me when I was a baby. I learned how to bark before I learned how to speak,” the dog lover shares.
Bradley-Millstein says her childhood pets also included cats, pet mice, birds and other creatures. After graduating from art school in Boston and eventually moving to the South Coast, the longtime animal advocate began volunteering at Forever Paws in Fall River, where she learned about rescue work from the ground up and adopted Hawkins, a dog with many challenges that needed a loving home.
According to the artist, Hawkins was mistreated but with lots of love, patience and perseverance, the handsome terrier became the star of Bradley-Millstein’s neighborhood.
“He just won me over, ” Bradley-Millstein says. “He was more than a friend to me. Everyone would come up and visit him — like a little celebrity.”
Bradley-Millstein says that she learned many valuable lessons from her shelter experiences, including an admiration for pit bulls and rescue dogs and all about the important work that shelter workers do every day to help animals.
“Animal people became my family,” the artist adds. “People who help animals are the best. They are reliable and compassionate.”
She also notes that her husband, Mark Millstein, a professor of design at UMass-Dartmouth, also shares a love for animals. Bradley-Millstein serves as an adjunct professor of art and
design at Bridgewater State University and also owns a studio at the Hatch Street Studios in New Bedford.
Earlier this year, Bradley-Millstein she released her first book, “Dogs Are Better Than People: Encountering Good and Evil in The Animal Rescue World.” The 444-page book, which took
the author more than 10 years to write, illustrate and compile, is the story of her transformation from an armchair sympathizer to one of the area’s foremost animal advocates.
“My husband and I find more comfort in dogs and other animals than humans,” Bradley-Millstein writes in the book. “Mark can’t bear to poison or even trap and relocate the dozens of
tiny mice that scamper through our house gathering up the dog biscuit crumbs on the floor. His compassion for animals was the source of initial attraction to him, and is the bond that
keeps our marriage together as we slowly turn into a couple of old codgers.”
The author emphasizes that by working as a volunteer, she gained a more accurate perspective of life at a very busy animal shelter.
While the book is nonfiction, Bradley-Millstein says she changed the names of the characters that appear in the book. She credits UMass-Dartmouth Prof. Peter Owens for encouraging her
to write the book.
The author/illustrator plans to write a similar cat book and also hopes to begin working on a children’s book about pit bulls this summer.
“Dogs Are Better Than People” is available at Amazon.com.