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.


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 [email protected] 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.

08/23/13 5:00pm
08/23/2013 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO |  Sue Condreras with her German shepherd Jesse, an experienced rescue dog that was honored with the Award for Canine Excellence as a Search and Rescue Dog.

Sue Condreras of Northville knew something was wrong the moment her German shepherd came out of the brush.

Jesse, who was wearing a vest that marked her as a trained search and rescue dog, was limping and yelping in pain.

The experienced rescue dog had suffered two herniated discs in her spine. But even a six-month rehabilitation process, which involved acupuncture and physical therapy, couldn’t keep Jesse down.

And Ms. Condreras could tell her partner wanted to get back out in the field.

“You can sit in my yard and throw the ball 10,000 times and she’ll bring the ball back 10,000,” Ms. Condreras said, explaining how she knew Jesse was eager to work again.

So Jesse was put back in action and, on her first rescue mission in the swamps of New Jersey, she located a missing hunter.

Jesse and Ms. Condreras’ dedication is now being honored by the American Kennel Club, which has announced Jesse as the winner of this year’s Award for Canine Excellence as a Search and Rescue Dog.

“It’s an honor for us to go out there and receive this award on behalf of all the other search dogs and canine teams that go out there and work,” Ms. Condreras said.

Ms. Condreras has owned German shepherds for years and has practiced obedience training with them, but decided about six years ago that she wanted to train a dog specifically for search and rescue.

She went to a reputable breeder in New Jersey, who showed her Jesse, then a 4-month-old pup.

“It was a match made in heaven,” Ms. Condreras recalled. “She came up to me and wrapped her paws around me.”

When Jesse turned a year old, their training began and the dog eventually became certified as a volunteer live search and human remains detection dog. The two operate through a Long Island volunteer group, going wherever emergency officials need them.

Jesse doesn’t just search for lost people. She also serves as a therapy dog, and has visited hospitals and nursing homes more than 250 times.

“The most rewarding thing is we’re able to do this as a team,” Ms. Condreras said. “There’s a bond that’s gotten that much stronger. Sometimes you look in her eyes and you know what’s going on … There’s a bond I can’t explain.”

Lisa Peterson, an American Kennel Club spokesperson, said Jesse typifies the tenacity of her breed.

“It’s really quite something,” Ms. Peterson said. “Jesse is multi-talented.”

Jesse and Ms. Condreras will accept the award at this year’s annual National Championship dog show in Orlando, Fla. Until then, the two partners are taking a little time to celebrate.

This week, as Ms. Condreras relaxed as part of a short stay-at-home vacation. Jesse couldn’t rest; she was swimming in the pool.

[email protected]

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.