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2014-11-26 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

It’s time to reflect on my many blessings within the pet realm.

Here is the short list:

*“Pets” column- I am thankful for the privilege of writing this column in the Beacon weekly for over 31 years, and in the Record and Post nine years now. We started the column in 1983 as a vehicle to make the buried treasure pets at Babylon Shelter more visible, and the column has morphed into much more. I was given a rescue forum long before there were bloggers or the internet. Adding up the two poster pets printed each week means that photos of over 3,000 shelter animals have been featured in the Beacon since “Pets” first began.

* LI Town Shelters- Zeroing in on Babylon, Hempstead and Oyster Bay for these accolades, I am thankful for the astounding improvements in our town shelters over the last three decades. Nowadays because of the directors’ adoption mindset, dogs and cats have open-ended stays rather than a “one week stray hold and now you’re dead even if you are the real Lassie”. A brindle Pit named “Drake” spent over three years at Babylon and found his family last November shortly after moving to Last Hope. “Sully” another Babylon boy and “Contessa” the office dog at Hempstead were just adopted after two year shelter stints, thanks to networking by shelter staff and volunteers.

"Drake" spent over 3 years at Babylon Shelter. "Drake" spent over 3 years at Babylon Shelter. Now town shelter pets get “soup to nuts” medical care plus microchips by vets on the premises and are sent out for spaying and neutering prior to adoption. “Flanagan” a Shepherd mix received hip surgery courtesy of Babylon Shelter after being hit by a car. He is recovering in a Last Hope foster home. Babylon dogs are started on heartworm preventive. Being an owner surrender or older pet is no longer a death sentence. Seniors receive medical TLC too, while the shelter advocates for the grey muzzle gang. Presently “Curt” a sweet but older Jack Russell at Babylon is getting medicated baths and antibiotics for skin allergies. The shelters above also have feral cat TNR (Trap/Neuter/ Return) programs available to residents year round, and take in tame cats for adoption. Oyster Bay just installed two glass cat viewing rooms in the spacious lobby which is filled with cat cages.

These shelters send pets to off-site adoption fairs, and reach out to specific rescues to pull dogs and cats from them. Petfinder and Facebook extend that rescue reach. Hempstead pets stay overnight at the huge Best Friends event in Westchester each year. Hempstead volunteers are invited to participate in Buddy Program training lessons offered each week.

*Shelter Volunteers- I am thankful for the many volunteers that give selflessly of their time and talents at municipal and private shelters. For many years only a few of us volunteered at Babylon. We were anomalies. Now there is the crew from Shelter Link which also coordinates offsite functions, and many others who walk and exercise the dogs in all sorts of weather. Certain volunteers are there on holidays when the shelter is closed to the public. Another group of dedicated people groom the matted entrants and socialize the cats. Others foster kittens that are sick or too young to be at the shelter.

Last Hope in Wantagh is all-volunteer. We have over 200 dog volunteers and more than 100 cat volunteers. Shifts start by feeding and walking dogs at 7 am. Others dispense medicines, help at veterinary clinics, clean the cat and dog areas, answer phones, train and socialize pets, drive pets to vets, foster, do home-checks, pick up out of state transport dogs, fundraise….and this is just a partial list.

*Excellent veterinarians- I am so grateful my long-time veterinarians, Dr. H. Schatz and Dr. P. LaPorta (who retired recently), for their compassionate care of my own pets and the countless rescues I have brought them. I wish we could all have personal physicians as kind and knowledgeable as they are.

I am also thankful for the diligent vets who care for town shelter and Last Hope pets. They spend hours diagnosing strays without known medical histories. Vets donate their services at Last Hope free Trap Neuter Return clinics. Last weekend 62 feral cats were spay/neutered, vaccinated and much more. One feral received hernia repair. Via the AMC to the Rescue program, the Animal Medical Center (AMC) in NYC has provided complex surgeries pro bono to four Last Hope pets including “Frankie” the kitten whose deformed eyelids were repaired and “Frog” the Chihuahua who was relieved of chronic bilateral ear infection and pain. The AMC invited “Frankie” to join them at the NASDAQ closing bell ceremony.

*Westminster Kennel Club in Babylon (1880—1904)-Learning eight years ago that Westminster owned Babylon property where Sensation their logo Pointer was buried (but no one knew precisely where) was a gift from the dog gods. My quest to find the site has turned into a labor of love. Thanks to the help of long time Babylon residents, and experts like Mr. Stifel, Westminster’s historian, Mary Cascone and Tom Smith, Babylon Town historians, Karen Blasche, historian for the American Pointer Club, Dr. Dan Davies, Stony Brook geophysicist with his ground penetrating radar readings, just to name a few, we now know so much more. I am 99% sure of the spot where the Westminster clubhouse complex stood, and continue to enjoy the pursuit of more discoveries.

*Working in the Westminster Press Room- I am so grateful for this opportunity. After volunteering at the dog show several years, I was given the chance to work in the Westminster press room in contact with journalists from all over the US. I help arrange for dogs at press conferences and TV appearances. Last year was the first Westminster agility match which included 15 mixed breed dogs and many purebreds that had incredible rescue stories. My task during the regular show is to gather the Best of Breed cards, and then hand them to David Frei, Westminster’s spokesperson during the live TV broadcast. I also collected Best of Breed info at the Philly National Dog Show that you may be watching at noon this Thanksgiving Day.

*For Adoption at Babylon Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon- “Curt” 14-549 the sweet Jack Russell mentioned above and “Newman” 13-681- a well-behaved black Pit who goes to adoption events.

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