By Dave Hutchinson
May 26, 2016

BRIDGEWATER — Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and Capt. Tim Pino, K9 Unit commander for the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, have known each other for more than 20 years.

Their bond is a love of animals.

In January, Pino was appointed to the Executive Board of the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter and one of his first thoughts was to extend an open invitation to Gov. Whitman to take a tour of the shelter.

Thursday morning, Whitman, driving a Prius and dressed casually, pulled up to the shelter alone just before 10 a.m. to take that tour.

“This means so much to me and the shelter,” said Pino, the former handler of Dano, the drug-detecting K9 who inspired a law protecting police dogs. “The Governor and I share a similar passion for animals. We have been long-time friends. She’s a fantastic person.”
Whitman, who gave one of her beloved Scottish Terriers to President and Mrs. George W. Bush while they were in the White House, toured the facility for approximately an hour. She stopped to pet and talk to several dogs and visited with a number of cats.

The former governor even took Frannie, a 8-year old beagle mix who is up for adoption, along with litter mate, Moses, for a short walk on the grass around the front entrance of the shelter.

Whitman was impressed with the shelter’s number of adoptions and its Trap-Neuter-Return program for cats and its junior volunteer program.

On the verge of being closed nearly two years ago, the shelter is striving. After having just 254 adoptions in 2013, it had 709 adoptions in 2014 and 764 adoptions in 2015.
“It’s a small operation and they do a terrific job,” said Whitman, adding that she has adopted a number of dogs. “(The shelter) serves a large area and doesn’t euthanize.”

Asked if she would adopt another dog, Whitman said, “I’m ready for it if they get a scotty.”

“It was great having someone of her stature here,” said Brian Bradshaw, executive director of the shelter. “She seemed very impressed. Hopefully, she can share her excitement about the shelter with others. We’re so excited about our work and the progress we have made.”