Tag Archive | "animals"

East Hampton’s Save A Dog A Day Finds Homes For Dogs, Friends for Humans

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Caroline Whelan and Ollie in Sag Harbor Tuesday, July 15. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Caroline Whelan and Ollie in Sag Harbor Tuesday, July 15. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

If no one had rescued Ollie from the cardboard box advertising “free puppies” he and his siblings were sharing at a yard sale in South Carolina, he would have been thrown into a river and drowned.

Instead, thanks to a network of volunteers dedicated to saving dogs from abuse, neglect and euthanasia, on New Year’s Day 2011, Ollie came to Sag Harbor and met Caroline Whelan.

Ollie, a “fourth-generation mutt,” according to Ms. Whelan, was brought up north and given a second chance by the Save A Dog A Day organization, a non-profit group based in East Hampton that rescues and finds new homes for dogs in danger of euthanasia.

“He just has the biggest heart and we’ve bonded since that first day,” Ms. Whelan said Tuesday, adding, “I think that’s one of the special things about rescue dogs; they have this knowing that they escaped something that could have been really ugly and scary, so he always seems so appreciative of the little things.”

Started by Colleen Fennell, a retired employee of the East Hampton School District, Save A Dog A Day has grown from a 2004 pipe dream to a national organization with 50 volunteers that rescues over 500 dogs annually—passing their goal of saving at least a dog a day.

The organization is hosting a fundraiser Sunday, July 20, at 230 Elm in Southampton. A two-hour open bar cocktail party will be followed by a comedy show with Carmen Lynch and Andy Pitz, who both performed on the Late Show with David Letterman.

During a visit to Puerto Rico, Ms. Fennell fell in love with the stray dogs there and realized she wanted—and needed—to do something to unite destitute animals across the United States with permanent homes. According to Ms. Fennell, over four million healthy animals are killed each year in the United States.

“She just wanted to do something, so she started the organization,” said Liz Miller of Springs, who has volunteered at Ms. Fennell’s side since the beginning, when she was only 15.

They connected with friends down south, establishing a secondary base in Fayetteville, North Carolina, “’cause there are so many kill shelters down there,” Ms. Miller said.

Lethal injection is the most humane method by which dogs are killed, but in many shelters in the United States—and the South, in particular—dogs are gassed or administered a heart stick, a practice that injects a burning, acid-like substance through the chests of conscious dogs that is not only illegal, but also an extremely painful way to die.

“Part of our challenge,” Ms. Fennell writes on the organization’s website, saveadogaday.net, “is to eradicate these cruel practices, while still maintaining a working relationship with these shelters.”

Caroline Whelan and Ollie on the day they met, January 1, 2011.

Caroline Whelan and Ollie on the day they met, January 1, 2011.

After a dog is recognized, a volunteer “pulls” it from the shelter. Puppies are quarantined, usually in a vet’s office, for two weeks to ensure they’re healthy. During that period, the dog is advertised via the website, email blasts and Facebook for potential foster and adoptive parents.

“The kill shelters are really bad for a billion reasons,” said Ms. Miller, “but another reason a lot of the rescues need fostering time is because they need to be re-acclimated to what it’s like to be in a normal environment. In kill shelters, 24/7 the dogs are stressed out. They feel the hate coming from the humans; there’s no affection, there’s no love there…It’s like death row for dogs.”

Once the dogs are cleared, the Pilots N Paws rescue service, “really great people who volunteer,” according to Ms. Miller, transports them on small planes.

Save A Dog A Day’s volunteers in the south bring the rescued dogs to the pilots, who fly them to small airports up north, usually in Wainscott, Brookhaven, Farmingdale or Connecticut. Once the dogs arrive, they are picked up and brought to foster parents.

“Fosters are the most crucial part,” said Ms. Miller. “The more fosters we have, the more dogs we can pull out.”

If the dogs aren’t flown by plane, an email chain gets sent out that says when a transport needs to happen. People sign up for two- to four-hour increments, driving the dog a portion of the way and handing them over to the next driver at a highway rest stop.

“It’s like a domino and they’ll just keep switching the dogs from car to car until they get to their destination,” Ms. Miller said. “There are a lot of good people who do that.”

After the dogs are distributed to their foster parents, Save A Dog A Day keeps advertising until they are adopted into a forever home. When an adoptive parent comes forward, a home visit is done to ensure it’s a safe and fitting environment for the dog’s needs and personality.

No one at Save A Dog A Day accepts a salary, and much of the non-profit’s funding comes from the pockets of Ms. Fennell and her volunteer network.

“The reason we do fundraisers is to pay for the vetting,” Ms. Miller said of the July 20 event. “We pay for a little transportation, but a lot the pilots donate. Most of the money Colleen [Fennell] pays out of her pocket.”

In addition to the regular shots and quarantine period, some expenses are unforeseen.

“A lot of times with a lot of dogs they have health issues because they’ve been kept in such horrible conditions,” Ms. Miller said.

A Rottweiler mix had a limp at the kill shelter. Once he was pulled out, they realized the limp was due to three bullets lodged in his hind leg, which cost the non-profit an unexpected $3,000 to remove.

Although a lot of sad stories come out of Save A Dog A Day’s daily work, the plight of the dogs often brings out the compassion in people.

Ms. Whelan picked out Ollie, fresh off a plane from South Carolina, with the intention of fostering him for two weeks. Three and a half years later, he’s her best friend.

“Ollie’s been with me through good times, bad times, break-ups, and he is that one constant in my life that I really cherish,” Ms. Whelan said.

If you’re interested in fostering or adopting a pet, please email Liz Miller at saveadogadayny@gmail.com. To purchase tickets to Sunday’s fundraiser, click hereFor more information on Save A Dog A Day, visit saveadogaday.net.

No To Puppy Mills

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Suffolk County Legislature approved a measure on Tuesday that will require more disclosure from pet stores and prohibit the sale of animals from proven puppy mills.

The law was co-sponsored by Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk and written with the aid of animal advocacy groups and local store owners.  The law prohibits pet shops from buying animals from questionable breeders with violations on their most recent United States Department of Agriculture reports.

“Paws & Reflect” at RJD Gallery to Benefit Southampton Animal Shelter

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Margo Selski, “Finding Alice,” oil & beeswax on canvas. Courtesy RJD Gallery.

Margo Selski, “Finding Alice,” oil & beeswax on canvas. Courtesy RJD Gallery.

By Tessa Raebeck

In a benefit for the Southampton Animal Shelter, RJD Gallery in Sag Harbor is hosting “Paws & Reflect,” a compilation of artwork celebrating the connection between humans and animals.

Rose Freymuth-Frazier, “The Duchess with Duke," oil on linen. Courtesy RJD Gallery.

Rose Freymuth-Frazier, “The Duchess with Duke,” oil on linen. Courtesy RJD Gallery.

From a woman and her bulldog to Alice being dwarfed by bunny rabbits, the exhibition explores the appreciation and fascination of people for their pets.

The show aims to raise awareness and funds for the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation.

The opening reception for “Paws & Reflect” is May 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the RJD Gallery, 90 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit RJDgallery.com, email art@RJDgallery.com or call 725-1161.

ARF Celebrates 40 Years of Protecting Man’s Best Friend

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ARF Trainer Matthew Posnick gets a kiss from Pretty Girl, a pit bull mix rescued from a dog fighting ring. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

ARF Trainer Matthew Posnick gets a kiss from Pretty Girl, a pit bull mix rescued from a dog-fighting ring. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

Forty years ago, Sag Harbor Village was overrun with strays, cat colonies had overtaken the East Hampton Town dump and feral dogs roamed the Northwest Woods in wild packs.

The commonplace conversion of house pets to wild animals seems unbelievable on the East End today—and that change is in large part thanks to the efforts of ARF, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary this Saturday.

People have been encouraged to bring their dogs on leashes and their cats in carriers to the celebration, which includes dog agility courses and contests, free pet microchipping and rabies vaccines, an “Ask the Vet” booth with Dr. Sarah Alward, music, fresh food for both humans and pets, and proclamations from elected officials and the Humane Society.

“We’re celebrating 280 years in dog years,” said Executive Director Sara Davison, noting that guests can also visit the shelter and view pets for adoption.

“A lot has changed since ARF was founded and we’re very, very proud of the role we’ve played in helping to make the East End a no-kill community—and by that I mean that no animal now in most of the East End towns is euthanized for lack of space,” she said.

“Through ARF’s work of advocating for spay and neuter, the numbers of unwanted litters of kittens and puppies are way, way down and we’re able to take all the animals that are healthy or can be rehabilitated and we get them homes,” Ms. Davison added.

ARF Executive Director Sara Davison poses with cats at the Wainscott adoption center. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

ARF Executive Director Sara Davison poses with cats at the Wainscott adoption center. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

When ARF was founded in 1974, “People were abandoning animals left and right…. There were huge tracts of woodlands where there were feral dogs, a lot of suffering, a lot of animals abandoned—and that’s all changed,” she said.

In 1973, the late Cleveland Amory, an American author who devoted his life to promoting animal rights, brought three local women together for a meeting at what was then the Paradise Restaurant in Sag Harbor.

Mr. Amory contacted the women—Barbara Posener, Sony Schotland and Dorothy Wahl—because of their respective contributions to animal welfare on the East End.

The late Ms. Posener had made flyers calling on summer residents to leave their house, not their dog, when they left the area in the fall. Ms. Wahl had reached out to Mr. Amory to notify him of someone who was illegally selling leopards and other wildlife. Mr. Amory approached Ms. Schotland, the owner of a shop on Main Street at the time, because she had raised money to buy a fence for the Hampton Animal Shelter, a shelter on Brick Kiln Road with a bad reputation.

“I constantly tried to help them, but it was to no avail,” she recounted.

After Ms. Schotland raised funds for a fence, the shelter owner took the money but applied it elsewhere, she said, rather than using it to enclose the cats and dogs in her care. Claiming to take in strays, the shelter actually perpetuated the problem, said Ms. Schotland, as its animals would wander from Brick Kiln Road into Sag Harbor.

“The warden in Southampton told me, ‘I have never been to any place where I pick up so many strays, I pick up an average of 30 strays a month out of just Sag Harbor,” Ms. Schotland said.

Mr. Amory, “the god of the animal world in those days,” according to Ms. Schotland, brought the women together, approaching the shelter to offer their help.

When the group’s offer was rejected, ARF was born.

“If she had not rejected us, ARF would never have been,” Ms. Schotland said.

The trio founded the new shelter “with little more than a passion for animal welfare, a backyard and indomitable determination,” according to ARF board president Lisa McCarthy.

“We had no clue what to do and it felt like having an elephant by the tail, but then, little by little, it worked,” Ms. Schotland said.

In the beginning, the founders boarded animals in their homes, in the back of Ms. Schotland’s shop, and at local animal hospitals, vets and friends’ places.

It is it’s required that found animals first be taken to a designated shelter, Southampton Animal Shelter in Southampton or the East Hampton Veterinary Group in East Hampton, to be held for a period of time, so there is a standard place for an owner to look for their pet.

In the early 1980s, ARF, still a fledgling organization, brought a four-month old black lab, “adorable” according to Ms. Schotland, to Southampton Town as mandated.

“That was terrible,” she recalled. “By the next weekend, when the people came back to look for it, it had been destroyed, it had been euthanized.”

Following the incident, Ms. Schotland, Helena Curtis and ARF successfully lobbied the town to increase the mandatory holding time for stray dogs from five to 10 days.

As ARF’s reputation grew through such efforts, bigger names signed on.

ARF Trainer Matthew Posnick plays with Pretty Girl. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

ARF Trainer Matthew Posnick plays with Pretty Girl. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

“Little by little, we formed a board and we got more organized,” Ms. Schotland said.

With help from philanthropists Edward and Susan Yawney, ARF celebrated its 10th anniversary with the purchase of 22 acres on Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott.

Today, ARF has 27 professional employees, hundreds of volunteers and an annual budget of $2.5 million—and plenty of stories supporting its initial mission to protect homeless and abandoned cats and dogs.

“They all have a story,” said Jamie Berger, director of marketing and communications. “Some we know, some we don’t.”

A year ago, a pit bull mix was found lying close to death on the floor of a dog-fighting ring in North Hempstead.

“She’s pretty well chewed up from what they did to her,” said Matthew Posnick, ARF’s trainer who is in the process of rehabilitating the dog, now affectionately called Pretty Girl.

ARF Trainer Matthew Posnick shows the scars on Pretty Girl's face from her days in a North Hempstead dog-fighting ring. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

ARF Trainer Matthew Posnick shows the scars on Pretty Girl’s face from her days in a North Hempstead dog-fighting ring. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Within about 10 weeks, Pretty Girl was out of a muzzle and socializing with other dogs. She was on the pier at HarborFest, playing with dogs and kids and although she isn’t up for adoption quite yet, the shelter is hopeful she will be ready for a home soon.

“Of all the things I’ve done here in four years, I’m most proud of that,” Mr. Posnick said, as Pretty Girl licked his face. “She’s a really happy dog.”

Nancy Butts, who has worked at ARF for 21 years—topped only by Debbie Downes’s 28 years—was never allowed to have an animal growing up.

“My father used to say to me, when you get married you can have all the dogs you want,” said Ms. Butts, who now has four. “I got married on a Saturday and got an animal on a Monday.”

Snuggled below her desk was Patrick, a Pomeranian who looks like a puppy but is actually 7. Rescued from a puppy mill in Ohio, Patrick is patiently awaiting a home.

With an extremely high release rate—the rate of how many animals come into the shelter versus how many leave alive—ARF has adopted out 20,000 animals to date.

Longtime ARF employee Nancy Butts with Patrick, a seven-year-old Pomeranian rescued from a puppy mill. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Longtime ARF employee Nancy Butts with Patrick, a seven-year-old Pomeranian rescued from a puppy mill. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Ms. McCarthy’s personal goal is to adopt out 2,000 animals yearly by 2017.

“We’re very proud of the community,” Ms. Davison said. “We’re thankful for the support that we’ve gotten through the years from the community, and it’s enabled us to create one of the leading shelters in our country.”

“Not every shelter can afford to do the kinds of surgeries and rehabilitative care that we provide, but once we admit an animal into our doors, we really make a pledge to them that we’re going to do everything we can to get them healthy and get them adopted,” she added.

ARF’s 40th Anniversary Celebration is Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the ARF Adoption Center, 90 Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott. For more information or to RSVP, email tdix@arfhamptons.org or call 537-0400.

Dr. Andrew Pepper

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The local veterinarian, who will give a speech at Southampton Hospital next week on the dangers of communicable animal diseases, on prevention, detection and protecting your family.

What are some of the problems the pediatricians at Southampton Hospital need to be aware of?
The most common is bite wounds and making sure the doctors are up to date on what the rabies protocols are. There is a whole guideline for what you are supposed to do. If the animal has been vaccinated for rabies, then there is not much work; if the animal has not been vaccinated for rabies then it opens a whole can of worms. Luckily we don’t really have rabies out here – we do have it on Long Island, and one day it could be here, so the doctors need to know what the rabies protocol is.

What do we have to be worried about locally?
Worms. It’s a really big thing, but it’s really easy to fix. People who have horses worm them every three months. Worming is cheap, and there shouldn’t be parasites out there. We are lucky where we are, because we have these wonderful winters that knock everything out. In the South it never really gets cold enough to kill the eggs.
A classic case of worms comes from the sand box – kids use their hands and ingest the dirt with parasites. You can also get it if you work in the garden. If you wear gloves you can prevent that; but when you are talking about little kids, they don’t do that. They put little things in their mouth. It’s also very common that people get parasites from visiting tropical islands, with big feral cat populations. They can get hook worms through their feet.

My message to the doctors is to think about these things.

Do you have a sense of how many animals out here end up with a parasite of some sort?
A good 10 percent of animals come back positive and they can get them when they come back from the pet stores. You have to remember parasites are communicable through the dirt. The feces goes through the dirt and the parasites could be communicable through the dirt. I had one dog in East Hampton that came back positive for three different things. We tested it once, it came back positive for coxcidia [a parasite that infects intestines] and we did another fecal [test] which came back positive for three other things.

How can people avoid contracting communicable diseases?
Pregnant women should not handle litter. You can worm your animal every three or four months, you can do fecal tests from time to time. Try to keep your animal from eating birds and rodents. That’s how the eggs get passed along is through the meat.

Are these diseases transmittable by saliva?
Well rabies can be transmitted that way. Most of the stuff is through the feces and the urine. A lot of them we don’t have here, but people travel all over the place. The big thing with the doctors is getting them to know what is out there. The big ticket item would be rabies protocol and worms. Those are the two big common things.

What about dealing with reptiles –are there any diseases specific to them?

That brings up a good point; there is salmonella you can get from such animals like turtles.

How can you avoid getting these diseases?
Washing your hands after handling them and washing your hands after handling the water that they were in. If you were really interested in finding it you could do cultures on the animal.

What about hamsters, guinea pigs and rodents?
There was the Hanta virus that was over on Shelter Island; that wasn’t that long ago. That was a respiratory disease. But that is another example of something caught from an animal. Or the West Nile virus, which you can get from mosquitoes from birds.

What do you suggest people or physicians need to be aware of?
Having it on their list of differentials – it has to be in the back of your mind. If you are not thinking about it you’ll never come up with it. There is also the flip side, which is the physician goes overboard with it. They will tell the pregnant lady that they have to get rid of their cat. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

What will be the number one thing you would like to tell the doctors at the Southampton Hospital?
Bite wounds is the number one thing, I have an article on that that I will leave for them. But also body-language wise, kids send out all the wrong messages to animals.

What are some signs that something is wrong with an animal?
Every animal is different, but normally step one is eating or not eating. Most dogs eat – if they are not eating that is usually a sign that something is wrong. Or you could take their temperature, 102.5 is normal. But getting up and getting around, check their energy level.