09/17/14 8:00am
09/17/2014 8:00 AM
Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter volunteers (from left) Richie Cox, Fred McLaughlin, Denise Lucas and Lindsay Reeve at Stotzky Park's Duke Dog Park Friday. They're holding tickets to the group's three-year anniversary benefit at Suffolk Theater planned for November. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter volunteers (from left) Richie Cox, Fred McLaughlin, Denise Lucas and Lindsay Reeve at Stotzky Park’s Duke Dog Park Friday. They’re holding tickets to the group’s three-year anniversary benefit at Suffolk Theater planned for November. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

They want to move the Riverhead Town Animal Shelter — and they want to move it now.

Volunteers from the nonprofit organization Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, which is led by front-woman Denise Lucas, are shifting their fundraising efforts into overdrive to renovate the future home of the town’s shelter — the Henry Pfeifer Community Center building in Calverton — as soon as possible.  (more…)

08/10/13 6:00pm
08/10/2013 6:00 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Denise Lucas and her dog Duke at Saturday’s opening of the ‘Duke’ Dog Park at Stotzky Park.

Riverhead Town officials and members of the non-profit Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter group officially opened the town’s second dog park Saturday.

The ‘Duke’ Dog Park at the north end of Stotzky Park is named after Denise Lucas’s dog, Duke, a 7-year-old Husky/Shepard blend.

Ms. Lucas is the leader of the Move the Animal Shelter group, which has held dozens of fundraisers to help privately fund the construction of a new, and better, town animal shelter.

But along the way, she and her group also got involved in helping to establish the town’s two dog parks. The Isaac Dog Park off Route 25 in Calverton opened last summer.

“I’m glad it’s done so we can move on with our promise to the community to move the shelter,” Ms. Lucas said. “We’ve got to really work hard with the shelter project.”

Sept. 27 will mark two years since she got involved in the project, she said.

The town turned over management of its animal control department this year to the non-profit North Fork Animal Welfare League. Both Ms. Lucas’s group and NFAWL, as well as the Town Board, support moving the town shelter from its current location on Youngs Avenue to the Henry Pfeiffer Community Center on Grumman Boulevard in Calverton.

NFAWL has received a $300,000 bequest from Patricia Toner Troxel of Mattituck for use in building an animal shelter, but that money can’t be used for a municipal building. The plan is to build a new facility on the Grumman Boulevard site and use additional money raised by NFAWL and Ms. Lucas’s group to renovate the Pfeiffer building into an animal facility.

NFAWL has plans for a cat shelter and spay-neuter clinic, in addition to the dog shelter.

“However NFAWL and Denise want to do it, I support,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Ms. Lucas said the town’s highway department and recreation department, along with Councilman James Wooten, were helpful in getting the new dog park ready.

Mr. Wooten said there are still some things that need to be done, such as putting in picnic tables, hydro-seeding the lawn and connecting it to a water source.

Mr. Wooten said he’d like to build one more dog park in the eastern part of the town, but he has to discuss it with the rest of the Town Board first.


08/06/13 5:00pm
08/06/2013 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Baxter, Misha and Sidney of Selden with their owner Irene Rabinowitz at last year’s dog park opening in Calverton. Riverhead’s own dog park at Stotzky Park will open Saturday.

Isn’t it about time you throw your dog a bone? Riverhead residents now have the opportunity to do just that.

The opening of the brand new Duke Dog Park is set to take place at 1 p.m. Saturday in the upper parking field at Stotzky Park. Councilman James Wooten and other elected officials will be on hand to usher in the latest addition to the Riverhead community.

The park gives residents a chance to let their dogs run free and play in a large, secure fenced-in area. The new park comes just a year after the long-awaited dog park at EPCAL in Calverton opened.

Councilman Wooten worked alongside Riverhead resident Denise Lucas, the founder of the non-profit “Move the Animal Shelter,” or M.T.A.S, who played a big role in raising enough funds to build the park and for supplies.

“I think there is a big advantage to having a dog park in our town,” Mr. Wooten said. “There are a lot of seniors who live in condos who don’t have that space.”

Mr. Wooten said he believes Riverhead was one of the last communities to get its own dog park.

“It gives people a place to go,” he said. “I think there is a real need for it and I see a desire for it.”

The park is free to the public.

02/03/13 5:00pm
02/03/2013 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Riverhead News-Review People of the Year (clockwise from top): Civic person Georgete Keller, Educator Jeff Doroski, Overall POY Denise Lucas, Business person Rich Stabile and Public servant Ed Romaine.

The Riverhead News-Review held its annual People of the Year reception this week, honoring those who were selected in our first issue of the new year.

You can read more about our 2012 People of the Year by clicking on the links below:

Person of the Year: Denise Lucas

Public Servant of the Year: Ed Romaine

Educator of the Year: Jeff Doroski

Business Person of the Year: Rich Stabile

Civic Person of the Year: Georgette Keller

02/03/13 10:23am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) Joel Neumann, Charles Puglisi and Joseph Luck of Absolute Detailing help clean a car with MTAS founder Denise Lucas Sunday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) Joel Neumann, Charles Puglisi and Joseph Luck of Absolute Detailing help clean a car with MTAS founder Denise Lucas Sunday morning.

The Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter organization is holding a car wash Sunday at Riverhead Toyota on Route 58 to raise money to build a new town animal shelter.

MTAS founder Denise Lucas said the store was closed, but five workers from Absolute Detailing got to the garage at 7 a.m. to open up for the day.

“All five of them came to work for free today,” she said. “They came on their day off to raise money.”

The car wash will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs a $10 donation to the organzation. T-Shirts and other goodies are also available for an additional donation.

Ms. Lucas said she has already spoken with the North Fork Animal Welfare League, who will take over running the town’s current shelter this spring, about partnering together to get the new shelter built.


Correction: The fundraiser will end at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon, not 5 p.m. as was originally posted.

01/05/13 8:00am
01/05/2013 8:00 AM
Riverhead Town, Riverhead Animal Shelter, Move the Animal Shelter, Denise Lucas

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Move the Animal Shelter founder Denise Lucas and friend Laurie Milford of Wading River at a fundraiser in summer 2012.

In August 2011, Denise Lucas took her 13-year-old neighbor to the Riverhead Animal Shelter to look at the dogs. The girl wanted to be a veterinarian but was terrified by the barking dogs and the sight of the shelter.

Animal advocates had long protested conditions at the town’s shelter, saying that better facilities were needed to care for the dogs. After her August visit, Ms. Lucas saw the same need.

Instead of protesting, she took action.

The longtime Riverhead resident and dog lover, who had never organized a single fundraiser before, soon began going door to door, business to business across the East End to raise money to build Riverhead Town a new animal shelter.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Denise Lucas of Move the Animal Shelter.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Denise Lucas of Move the Animal Shelter.

More than a year later, Move the Animal Shelter — the organization she founded — has raised thousands to put toward building a new town facility. She’s also spearheaded the town’s first public dog park, with a second park expected to open in the spring.

Ms. Lucas has kept up an impressive pace, holding dozens of fundraisers — from dinners to dog grooming events — and obtaining nonprofit status for her organization while still working her regular job.

It’s that dedication and drive that several town officials and residents have praised, and why Ms. Lucas is the News-Review’s 2012 Person of the Year.

“Denise Lucas came to me about a year ago, and she was on a mission,” said Councilman James Wooten, the Town Board’s liaison to Ms. Lucas’ group. “She was like a spitfire … for me personally, I think she’s just a breath of fresh air.”

Ms. Lucas began raising funds in September 2011; two months later, she had raised $12,000 for the new shelter. The money originally went into a special town fund, but it was later returned to the group once it received 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit.

The new shelter as designed should cost roughly $300,000, Ms. Lucas has said in previous interviews.

While raising funds for the new shelter, Ms. Lucas learned of the town’s efforts to get a dog park built. She immediately opened up another fundraising effort and raised $14,000 to help the town build its first public dog park: Issac Park at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. Ms. Lucas also enticed businesses to donate supplies or pay for various items needed for the park, like fencing and picnic tables.

The dog park in Calverton opened in July; Ms. Lucas is currently raising funds to have another, smaller dog park built at Stotzky Park near the soccer fields.

“This one person has accomplished so much for the town in just one year,” wrote Riverhead resident Jim Seuling, in nominating Ms. Lucas for Person of the Year honors.

On Dec. 18, the Riverhead Town Board voted to privatize the town shelter, putting it under the control of the North Fork Animal Welfare League, a nonprofit group that currently runs the Southold Town shelter.

But Ms. Lucas is not going to give up on her mission; in fact, the move may help her raise even more money to help Riverhead’s pets, officials said.

“This [privatization of the shelter] is probably better for her organization, because she’s going to be working with the North Fork Animal Welfare League,” Mr. Wooten said. “She’s reenergized by it.”