Riverhead Town is finally moving in the right direction when it comes to caring for its animals. The town animal shelter is now being operated not by the police department but by a nonprofit humane group with plans to move from its antiquated and inadequate Youngs Avenue building. Donations through the Move the Animal Shelter fundraising group plus a $300,000 bequest from the Troxell estate in Mattituck will help transform the Henry Pfeifer Community Center property into a modern, comfortable and temperature-controlled shelter for both cats and dogs.
It wasn’t easy to reach this point; some might argue it’s taken decades, and many thanks must go out not only to recent Town Board members who helped make this happen — especially James Wooten — and the North Fork Animal Welfare League, which agreed to take over the shelter, but also to a long list of people who volunteered in varying capacities. The are too many to name.
Thanks are due to those at RSVP, established in 1996 as the Riverhead Shelter Volunteer Program and now a regional animal welfare and rescue group. Volunteer trainers and personnel from RSVP and other humane groups have helped dogs at the existing shelter, either getting them adopted or making their lives a bit more comfortable in Riverhead. And then there are those who established and have helped run the town’s animal advisory committee. Along with trying to hammer out policies, such as the one for euthanasia, committee members have served as citizen watchdogs for the town’s shelter management.
And all along, staffers and volunteers at the private Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton have been quietly caring for the town’s shelter dogs and stray cats. Before NFAWL took over the town shelter, Supervisor Sean Walter called Kent the “de facto municipal shelter.”
So while all the press has gone to the trouble-plagued town animal shelter over the years, little attention has been paid to Kent Animal Shelter. It also deserves community support in its quest to raise money and win approvals needed to build a new shelter at its Calverton property. The new facility would be farther away from the Peconic River than the existing facility and would have upgraded septic systems, temperature control and sound-proofing elements.
Kent was recognized as America’s Shelter of the Year in 2009 by the North Shore Animal League, a Port Jefferson-based rescue and adoption group. The local shelter was honored in 2010, at the 55th annual Purina Pro Plan Show Dogs of the Year Awards in NYC, where officials praised Kent’s policy of accepting animals from around the corner and around the globe.
As far as dog and cat shelters go, Kent is a gem, something all of Riverhead can be proud of and should support as it moves forward with plans for its new $1.75 million shelter.
Those who’d like to contribute should contact Pam Green at (631) 727-5731 or [email protected].