10/01/14 4:30pm
10/01/2014 4:30 PM
Gillian Wood Pultz (right) and another African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) volunteer prep a satellite clinic to administer rabies vaccines to dogs in the city of Voi, located in southern Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Gillian Wood Pultz (right) and another African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) volunteer prep a satellite clinic to administer rabies vaccines to dogs in the city of Voi, located in southern Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Most people look forward to spending their precious vacation days enjoying rest, relaxation and the occasional cocktail, but that’s not the case with North Fork Animal Welfare League director Gillian Wood Pultz.

Twice a year since 2010, Ms. Wood Pultz has boarded a plane to Mexico to help spay and neuter 1,600 animals in just six days.

But this year, she decided to take her efforts even further away — about 8,000 miles, in fact — to Africa.

Armed with a sleeping bag and mosquito net, Ms. Wood Pultz flew from Mexico to Kenya on Aug. 19 to volunteer with the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), which had been working to stop the Kenyan government from using what Ms. Wood Pultz called an inhumane euthanasia practice in an effort to control the spread of rabies.

“The Kenyan government decided that in order to keep rabies at bay in humans, it had to reduce the population of stray dogs,” Ms. Wood Pultz said. “ANAW got involved and started a vaccination campaign.”

Gillian Wood Pultz said the highlight of her trip was helping children and families learn how to better care for their dogs, which included a tutorial on belly rubs. (Courtesy photo)

Ms. Wood Pultz joined a group of helpers from around the globe to vaccinate nearly 2,000 animals against rabies in just five days, sleeping on the roof of a building with other volunteers in order to save money.

The vaccinations replaced the Kenyan government’s use of strychnine, a form of poison that had been used to kill hundreds of stray dogs until March, when ANAW stepped in, according to the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals.

“It’s an oral poison, and it is a really harsh form [of euthanasia] — a horrible way to kill dogs,” Ms. Wood Pultz said.

NFAWL, which operates shelters in Riverhead and Southold towns, donated medical supplies and about 400 soon-to-expire vaccines that otherwise would have been thrown out, she said.

To help instill animal welfare, Ms. Wood Pultz said, “it is hugely important that everyone works together. We need cooperation and collaboration locally, nationally, and globally.”

She said her mission in Kenya went well beyond simply vaccinating animals.

“We want to change the way owners think of their animals,” she said.

Ms. Wood Pultz explained that dogs are treated as agricultural animals in that part of the world and frequently used to protect homes and herd cattle.

“Dogs are not considered pets. They are not allowed in the house,” she said. “It was so clear to me that they just didn’t know they were supposed to pet their dogs; they really weren’t sure.”

Ms. Wood Pultz said she set out to change that mindset.

“We started teaching the kids to rub their dog’s tummy,” she said. “One here, another there — and then, all of a sudden — all these kids had their dogs rolling in the field on their backs, wagging their tails.

“All you need is one of them to really get it and it can change an entire community,” she said.

cmiller@timesreview.com

Second photo credit: Gillian Wood Pultz said the highlight of her trip was helping children and families learn how to better care for their dogs, which included a tutorial on belly rubs. (Courtesy photo)

06/08/14 8:00am
06/08/2014 8:00 AM

gaspo_dog

Monday we had to say goodbye to our dog, Luke. He was 14 years old and until very recently, I was convinced we would be able to claim ownership of the world’s oldest dog. I honestly thought sometimes that he’d outlive us all.

He looked great up until the last couple of months, when he finally began acting like a nonagenarian (in dog years). He came upstiars less and less, and it took a beat or two to jump up onto his couch (yes, his couch, because he was spoiled), so when the end came, it was sudden but not surprising.  (more…)

06/03/14 3:07pm
06/03/2014 3:07 PM
Barnum, a cocker spaniel, was rescued from a puppy mill in 2009. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Barnum, a cocker spaniel, was rescued from a puppy mill in 2009. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Suffolk County is poised to become the first county in New York State to regulate the sale of animals, as the county legislature unanimously approved a measure on Tuesday that sets a framework for discouraging pet retailers from buying from unsafe breeders.

(more…)

05/15/14 3:33pm
05/15/2014 3:33 PM
The Suffolk County Legislature passed a measure regulating the tethering of dogs. (Credit: Freephotos.com/pexlo)

The Suffolk County Legislature passed a measure regulating the tethering of dogs. (Credit: Freephotos.com/pexlo)

The Suffolk County Legislature voted unanimously Tuesday to strengthen protections for man’s furry friend by changing how dogs can be restrained outdoors.

If signed into law by the County Executive, pet owners could no longer secure their dogs outside to a stationary object for longer than two hours in any 12-hour period, according to the legislation sponsored by Legislator Lou D’Amaro (D-Huntington Station).   (more…)

03/15/14 8:00am
03/15/2014 8:00 AM

After Chipper, a 10-year-old border collie, was found in downtown Riverhead, a North Fork Animal Welfare League volunteer made him a wheelchair. He’s with kennel attendant Tammy Henderson on shelter grounds last Friday morning, before Chipper was flown to his new home in Illinois. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photo)

Not too long ago people talked more about conditions at the Riverhead Town Animal Shelter than about the dogs there who were up for adoption.

But ever since the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League took charge at the Calverton shelter, contracting with the town through 2015, a lot more volunteers can be seen walking the dogs along Youngs Avenue.  (more…)

01/05/14 3:30pm
01/05/2014 3:30 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town's animal control building on Youngs Avenue.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town’s animal control building on Youngs Avenue.

As the old saying goes, no news is good news.

And while we in the news industry might not agree with that statement as often as others might — try telling that to the people of the year, for example — staying under the radar can often be a pretty good thing.

Case in point, the Riverhead Town animal shelter.

Just over a year ago, the Riverhead Town Board contracted with the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which has long run Southold Town’s facility, to take over operation of the Riverhead shelter March 1, 2013.

The decision came after years of controversy at the shelter, which had earned a reputation among animal advocates as an unhealthy, unfriendly environment. Critics chastised police chief David Hegermiller, who somehow ended up in charge of rounding up stray animals. Stronger criticism was focused on the head animal control officer, especially following the late 2011 killing of a shelter dog named Bruno, which most agreed was unnecessary. After months of avoiding the public spotlight, the officer eventually resigned.

Frustrated with the way things were being handled at the shelter, Denise Lucas launched a campaign all on her own to raise funds to ‘Move the Animal Shelter’ (the name of the nonprofit she formed for the cause). Ms. Lucas — the News-Review’s Person of the Year for 2012 — has since succeeded in establishing public dog parks in Calverton and at Stotzky Park, and continues to raise funds for the eventual relocation of the shelter. And on Tuesday, Ms. Lucas was over at the shelter adopting a German shepherd of her own from the facility.

But in the months since NFAWL took over, the shelter has rarely, if at all, found itself in the headlines. No controversial personnel; no news of unwarranted euthanasia on the front page of the paper; no protests outside the facility.

Staff at the NFAWL-run shelter has increased from two full-timers and two part-timers before March, to a current staff of four full-timers and two part-timers. Meanwhile, the number of regular volunteers has tripled and NFAWL has received 600 hours of community service through the courts and the county. The shelter has even spayed more than 150 pit bulls for free, a service NFAWL offers to help reduce future populations at both shelters, where 75 percent of the dogs are pit bull mixes.

So, hard as it is to admit, no news has pretty much been good news at the Youngs Avenue shelter itself.

Perhaps that was most recently evident in the week leading up to Christmas. A shivering, emaciated 10-year-old border collie was found on the side of the road in mid-December, its back legs paralyzed. And while we here at the News-Review documented the shelter’s efforts online at bringing the dog back up to speed, we didn’t learn about Chipper until two weeks after he’d been found, when we came across his story on Facebook. (When the town ran the shelter, it didn’t even have Facebook page. In fact, picture-taking had been banned at the shelter.) Volunteers at the NFAWL-run shelter had been quietly rehabbing Chipper, trying to get him adopted. One generous volunteer even took the time to modify a wheelchair-like cart at the shelter to help him roll around, as opposed to dragging the lower half of his body.

It’s hard to say how Chipper’s story would have ended had the town still been in control. But it’s hard to argue that the town could offer the same services NFAWL has; in fact, those previously tasked with running the shelter will probably tell you the same thing.

In a political environment here in town that can get pretty hostile at times, the nonprofit’s takeover of the Calverton shelter seems to have been a quiet no-brainer.

An entity running smoothly isn’t typically the type to make headlines.

Joseph Pinciaro is the managing editor at the News-Review. He can be reached at jpinciaro@ timesreview.com , or directly at 631-354-8024.

11/02/13 6:36pm
11/02/2013 6:36 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO |  More than 100 animals were available for adoption Saturday at Polish Hall.

Polish Hall in Riverhead was transformed into a giant pet adoption center for four hours Saturday, as the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons teamed up with five other non-profit or municipal animal shelters for a Pet Adoption and Agility Expo.

“We want to make pet adoption as easy as possible,” said ARF’s Executive Director Sara Davison.

The expo provided “one-stop shopping” for people seeking to adopt dogs or cats from the six participating agencies, which included ARF, Kent Animal Shelter, North Fork Animal Welfare League. RSVP, Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation and  Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter.

The dogs were outside the building, the cats inside. More than 100 animals were available for adoption.

In addition, there were agility courses on site for both cats and dogs. All animals at the event were spayed, neutered and vaccinated, and checked by a veterinarian.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A few cats relax Saturday while waiting for adoption.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Dressed for the occasion.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A Persian cat available for adoption.

 

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Cats try their luck on the agility course.