'Litter Reunions' Growing In Popularity, Help Owners Bond As Much As Animals

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new breed of family reunion is growing in popularity in backyards and parks around the country.

Pet owners have been linking up to let their furry friends see and sniff their brothers and sisters.

Rosie, Inca, Lilly and Bonnie were separated shortly after birth and hadn’t seen each other since they were puppies. Recently their owners got together to compare the dogs’ traits and personalities, and let the animals reunite.

“It was amazing,” Eileen Silva told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson. “They knew each other right away.”

The gatherings are called “litter reunions” and have been organized by rescue groups, breeders, and pet owners.

“It’s been a more recent phenomenon that with the advent of Facebook and other social media avenues,” All Sato Rescue’s Edilia Vazquez said, “People are reaching out to find out what’s happening, who are their siblings, and where they come from.”

The reunions aren’t just for dogs either. Cat owners, even rabbit owners have reunited their pets. But the rise in the popularity of litter reunions begs the question: can animals actually recognize a family member?

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

Okura organized a reunion for a dog named “Rita,” and her puppies on their first birthday. She told CBS 2’s Johnson that the gatherings benefit the owners more than the animals.

“The owners get to see the sibling 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,” Okura explained.

While it may seem that the animals recognize each other because they immediately begin playing together, behaviorists said that’s simply the way that animals interact.

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