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2012-12-05 / Columnists

Pets pet pets

Amid all the sadness of Sandy, many mitzvahs happened behind the scenes. In response to the hurricane, much of this kindness and generosity has been extended to people on behalf of their pets. The list below outlines only a few of the good deeds:

Donations from near and far: As soon as it became apparent that the storm had been devastating, offers of help plus shipments of supplies from corporations and individuals began pouring into animal shelters, especially those on the South Shore. Hempstead Town Shelter and Last Hope next door were on generator power for two weeks. Meanwhile, Hempstead, a municipal shelter, took in well over 300 animals in the last month.

On November 2, an Arizona pharmaceutical company and California shelter contacted Last Hope in Wantagh offering free supplies. Last Hope received a generous “Sandy Grant” from the AKC Humane Fund to defray expenses for additional dogs rescued because of the storm. The fund was created with donations from the American Kennel Club and Westminster Kennel Club.

A rescuer who drove here from Virginia because she was a native Long Islander pulled into our parking lot with a van full of crates and pet food looking for the Pet Safe Coalition, by then moved to the Nassau Emergency Shelter at Mitchel Field. She asked who was most in need because she had funding, and then talked about offering a new heating system to Bobbi & The Strays, because their renovated Freeport facility had been flooded.

Hempstead Shelter became “donation central.” Off-site event adoption coordinator Wendy Cariello spent the last month garnering supplies and making donation/adoption appeals. She helped oversee the intake and dispensing of items. Wendy reports: “Paul Mitchell Company (John Paul for Pets), Purina, Fauna (Eukanuba) foods, AdoptNY, and Best Friends Animal Society were among other large organizations who sent free shipments. We saw local residents coming in with supplies and taking our dirty laundry to clean, as well as collective rescues banding together both to bring supplies and pull pets from as far as Albany, New England, Virginia, and Louisiana. Letters of support and supplies came in from individuals in places like Nevada and California- all of these and much more made it a mind boggling, heartwarming experience. And it enabled us to then turn around and help a lot of other shelters, rescues, displaced residents, and hard hit homes.” You may remember the holistic trainer Roman Gottfried, profiled in “Pets” Beacon 9/20/12 before the Bully Brigade. Roman drove down to the Hempstead Shelter from Connecticut with supplies and went home with a dog.

Share-a-thon: The town shelters and rescue groups tried to share the “wealth” with storm victims, but during the black-outs and gas crisis, it was hard to get the word out, (and even more difficult for people whose cars were submerged.) Hempstead and Babylon Shelters brought pet supplies to distribution areas like the FEMA pods in Inwood and Long Beach, or Shore Road Park in Lindenhurst. Suffolk SPCA drove through flooded areas with more pet food.

Babylon Shelter has a door to door delivery in waterfront areas where owners are staying in gutted homes without power. A young volunteer and her parents did a needs assessment survey. Those interested filled out index cards with specific pet food requests. Animal Control Officers bring the supplies to these houses. The Hempstead Shelter found that many residents refused to leave uninhabitable homes because of their pets. They are supplying storm victims with food, carriers, litter boxes and even blankets for the people who have lost everything.

A few months ago, the Mayor’s Alliance announced that they had a huge stockpile of new, packaged American Airlines blankets because the airline had changed its logo. Hempstead made several trips to the Brooklyn animal shelter to obtain these lovely blankets. They gave cases to Last Hope too, but as the Hempstead Shelter director Cindy Iacopella says- “Who could have foreseen that these blankets would soon be dispersed to LI hurricane victims, staying in their ravaged homes without heat?”

Countless folks are sharing their homes also. For instance, Bonnie Babylon Shelter-retired (how do you like that last name?) had temporary tenants for several weeks when a friend’s flooded Lindenhurst home had an electrical fire. The friend and her 15 Ragdoll cats moved into Bonnie’s downstairs until it was safe to go home.

A Lulu of a Rescue: After securing her cat in the attic as the ocean rushed in, a Long Beach lady ran from her home with only the clothes on her back. The home has been condemned. The Hempstead Shelter returned with HSUS to rescue Lulu the cat from the attic but entering was risky with walls that are now collapsing. Cindy stated that they were able to trap Lulu, and held her at the shelter for a month. The lady and Lulu will be staying in Florida for now. Another flooded Long Beach home had 25 cats (5 drowned), 15 birds, 30 turtles, and four ferrets. The shelter is in the process of placing all the surviving animals.

Poignant Parting Words: One more comment about the corporate donations. When speaking of the charity extended, Wendy at Hempstead Shelter remarked-“Many times over the following weeks I choked up at the overwhelming generosity. But I actually cried while I unpacked Purina’s shipment: five pallets of cello-wrapped canine and feline food and litter. On each pallet, someone in the plant had taken the time to write good will messages like ‘Good luck, our thoughts are with you.’”

Babylon Shelter Dog for Adoption (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: This skinny pup #12- 752 with helicopter ears is too new to name. She was turned in by a couple that said they could no longer care for her.

Last Hope Dog for Adoption (516-783-0030) 3300 Beltagh Ave. Wantagh: “Pork Chop,” a fiveyear old Jack Russell mix, is from a court case in Kentucky. A man left 13 dogs chained up in his 91-year-old father’s yard. The father ran out of food and some of the dogs starved to death. Pork Chop and his sibling “Shara” are now eating well and waiting at Last Hope for loving homes.

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