Gilbert Ely drove from Beacon Falls to get in line half an hour before the adoption tent containing about 150 dogs from Connecticut, Georgia and Puerto Rico opened in the PetSmart parking lot Friday morning.
The wait was long. Because of a warning from the fire marshal, the event’s organizer, the Society for Protection of Animals of Connecticut, limited the number of people who could enter the tent at one time. Those at the front of the line peaked through the entrance at the rescued dogs.
After a two-hour wait, Ely made it inside and found the dog he was looking for: Wesley, a basset hound mix.
“He’s coming home with me. He likes me,” Ely said, as he leaned over the dog’s straw-covered pen before picking him up.
“My first basset hound, he was so laid back. I loved him,” Ely said.
Ely’s 13-year-old basset, the second he owned, died last Saturday.
Like many other hopefuls, Ely found Wesley online. The SPCA, however, does not complete adoptions in cyberspace.
“As much as we would like to expedite the process, we really need to take the time to speak to everybody,” SPCA Director Frederick Acker said.
Consequently, many people often show up with their hearts set on the same dog.
“I am really, truly sorry,” Acker told Ely when he arrived to submit his application.
Another man, Cosmo Stallone, had already submitted an application and the $300 fee online. All he needed to do was meet the dog and his caretakers in person, so Acker gave priority to Stallone.
“I might not get my dog,” Ely explained, as he waited for Acker to track down Stallone.
They found Stallone, who drove from Binghamton, N.Y., in the lot outside.
Acker handed Ely his card.
“I will get you a basset hound, I promise,” he said.
Ely said he understood the situation and shook hands with the other men.
“I’ve been looking for a basset hound. I need an animal that would get along with my beagle,” Stallone explained, before heading into the tent to meet Wesley.
Melissa Tavella, of Norwalk, didn’t have the same composure when she learned the lab mix puppy she had set her heart on was gone.

“I started to cry, and said, ‘Let’s just leave,’ ” she said. But when volunteer Ellen Kelley, of Boston, heard Tavella talk of going to a breeder or a pet store rather than adopt a rescued animal, she showed Tavella and her boyfriend one of the puppy’s brothers, Sidney.
“The minute I picked him up, he was just looking at me, so calm,” Tavella said, so she and her boyfriend decided to take him home.

The SPCA is expecting 70 more dogs today, Assistant Manager Susan Fernandez said.
All of those from out of state – highly adoptable dogs mostly taken off the streets or from kill shelters – will be gone by the end of the event, she said. The ones likely to remain are local dogs the SPCA brought, she said.

A number are older, or less than physically perfect like Lonnie, whose puffy hairstyle obscured his lack of eyes, removed because of cataracts, or Rascal, whose bald spots and twisted jaw, left him with “a face only a mother could love,” according to the tag on his cage.

Cosmo from NY