03/29/13 8:00am
03/29/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kent Animal Shelter kennel attendant Erin McGrellis holds Walter, a 3-year-old French bulldog surrendered by his owner because he was picking on an older dog in the household. He’s now undergoing training to rid him of his bad habits.

Kent Animal Shelter’s plan to build a 10,000-square-foot facility to replace the aging structure on its River Road property in Calverton took a big step forward last Thursday, when the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a series of variances needed for the project.

Kent Animal Shelter has been operating at its 2.1-acre River Road location since 1968, during which time it has gotten more than 30,000 animals adopted and has treated more than 60,000 dogs and cats through its spay/neuter program, said executive director Pamela Green.

The nonprofit animal rescue organization’s current facilities “are antiquated by any standard,” Chuck Bowman, vice president of Kent’s board of directors, said at last week’s ZBA hearing.

Mr. Bowman is also a land-use planner who is donating his services for the Kent project, Ms. Green later said.

Editorial: Two new animal shelter efforts need local support

“The shelter is 45 years old and the buildings are falling apart,” Ms. Green told the ZBA. “It really would be a shame if we couldn’t continue our services.”

Kent seeks to remove two old buildings near the river and build a 10,000-square-foot facility that would incorporate the functions of several current buildings into one, Ms. Green said. The new structure will have about 60 indoor dog runs and will be sound-proofed, so noise will not travel outside the building.

“The new building will be so much better for the animals and for the people,” Ms. Green said.

COURTESY DRAWING | A rendering of what the new Kent Animal Shelter will look like.

Kent expects the project to cost about $1.75 million. Kent’s funding comes entirely from private contributions, grants and bequests, Mr. Bowman said.

About three years into a capital campaign that launched in 2010, Kent has more than $400,000 on hand, with future fundraising events planned, Ms. Green.

Typically, such building projects are financed over several years.

The shelter still will need a special permit approval from the Town Board, site plan approval from the Planning Board, a hardship exemption from the state’s Central Pine Barrens Commission and sewage flow approvals from the county health department before it can begin construction on its long-held vision.

Those approvals are expected to take another six to nine months, shelter officials said.

Kent had at one time looked for land at another location to build its new shelter, but found that the town’s zoning doesn’t specifically permit animals shelters anywhere, which is why Kent will need a special permit from the Town Board.

“It’s very difficult to site one where you can actually keep all your neighbors happy,” Mr. Bowman said. “So with that, we decided we were going to stay in our existing, non-conforming site, which is on the Peconic River.”

Kent has already received state approval to build near the river, which is located within the boundaries of the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, which limits development near New York rivers.

Kent plans to move the buildings further away from the river, upgrade its sanitary system and build a buffer between the buildings and the river, according to Mr. Bowman.

Kent also purchased a neighboring property to create more of a buffer between the shelter and neighboring properties.

The shelter handles spaying and neutering of animals for Riverhead Town and often takes animals from the town’s shelter and helps get them adopted, Ms. Green said.

Securing approval from the Pine Barrens Commission is expected to be the toughest hurdle facing the project.

At a Dec. 20 hearing before the commission, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, two of its five commissioners, voiced support for Kent.

“They are our de facto municipal shelter,” Mr. Walter said of Kent at the hearing.

But Richard Amper of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society criticized Mr. Walter’s comments and suggested it may be a conflict of interest for Mr. Walter to vote on Kent’s application.

“Kent providing great public service is entirely irrelevant to this application,” Mr. Amper said at the time, indicating that the commission’s vote should be based entirely on whether Kent meets the criteria for a Pine Barrens exemption.

The Long Island Pine Barrens Society is a nonprofit environmental organization and isn’t part of the Pine Barrens Commission, though Mr. Amper is vice president of the commission’s advisory committee and was instrumental in getting the state Pine Barrens Protection Act enacted in the early 1990s.

Those who’d like to contribute to the new shelter fund should contact Pam Green at 631-727-5731 or pamgreen@kentanimalshelter.com.

tgannon@timesreview.com

03/29/13 7:59am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Pam Green of Kent Animal Shelter.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Pam Green of Kent Animal Shelter.

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.

Related: Kent Animal Shelter receives key approval for new $1.75 million facility

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 pamgreen@kentanimalshelter.com.

11/18/12 10:00am
11/18/2012 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Pam Green of Kent Animal Shelter.

Suffolk County National Bank has thrown its support behind the Kent Animal Shelter’s drive to build a new $2.5 million facility in Calverton by participating in the “Pause for Paws” campaign.

Three bank branches — at 6 West Second Street and 1201 Ostrander Avenue in Riverhead and 2065 Wading River Manor Road in Wading River — are inviting employees and customers to contribute money to the effort.

The banks will be selling paper paws to be displayed in their windows through to the end of the year. A white paw costs $1, $5 for a blue paw and a coral paw costs $10.

Money raising efforts for the new shelter have been under way for the past year and a half and about a quarter of the cost has been raised to date, according to shelter executive director Pam Green.

“The bank has been a supporter of the Kent Animal Shelter for many years and we are very happy to join with them in their ‘Pause for Paws’ campaign,” said Brenda Sujecki, SCNB vice president of marketing. “The shelter does tremendous work in finding homes for abused, homeless and abandoned animals and their low cost spay/neuter clinic is vital in helping control the pet population in our community.”

Kent has received state DEC permits for a new shelter and it about to submit plans to the Riverhead Town Board and the Suffolk County health department.

With plans for a major fund-raising push in 2013, Ms. Green hopes construction can get under way next year.

“We may not reach our goal by the time we break ground,” she said about the fundraising. “It will possibly be a phased project. We’re hoping when people see that it’s really going to happen, they’ll contribute.”

09/30/12 8:00am
09/30/2012 8:00 AM
Martha Clara Vineyards, Kent Animal Shelter, Long Island Wine Country

KENT ANIMAL SHELTER COURTESY PHOTO | Wines & Canines revelers Sunday at Martha Clara.

Kent Animal Shelter raised about $30,000 at its third annual Wines & Canines 5k Dog Walk and Run at Martha Clara Vineyards last Sunday.

The event raised money to help animals at the shelter, contribute to programs and to help the shelter build a new $2.5 million facility at its Calverton property, shelter officials said.

Volunteers and staffers at the River Road shelter have been working to raise money for the new facility for about a year-and-a-half, and have raised about a quarter of the money needed to date, said Kent Executive Director Pam Green on Friday.

“A lot of people are expressing interest in the project,” she said. “We’re trying to get more community involvement.”

Ms. Green said the nonprofit organization has already received DEC permits for the new shelter, and is about to submit plans to the town planning board and the county health department. She said they’re planning a big event for next year to help push the construction funding over the top and expects the permitting process to take about six months.

“We may not reach our goal by the time we break ground. It will possibly be a phased project,” she said. “We’re hoping when people see that it’s really going to happen, they’ll contribute.”

byoung@timesreview.com

07/28/12 3:00pm

After more than a month of giving $10 discount vaccines to dogs, Kent Animal Shelter will have crossed the 1,000 mark for the year when its discount program concludes Sunday.

The shelter was scheduled to perform more than 160 vaccinations this weekend alone.

The affordable vaccine clinics were made possible by a $10,000 grant from the ASPCA.

While the schedule is full for the final day Sunday, shelter officials said they will try to accommodate people who call in advance at 727-7797.

Check photos from Saturday at the shelter below:

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | Five-year-old chihuahua Chico with his owner, Lea Schaefer of Baiting Hollow.

Kent Animal Shelter’s vet technician Kim Rivera of Manorville gives a distemper shot to 7-year old chihuahua ‘Skippy,’ held by his owner Kevin Vinas, 9, of Riverhead.

Seven-year-old shepard mix Pebbles with his owner Laura Sforza of Mastic.

Three-year-old pit bull Apollo waits for his shots as he is held by owner Jennifer Sforza of Mastic.

Tom Comstock of Rocky Point comforts his 17-week-old puppy Zeus, as he gets his rabies and distemper shot.

 

07/18/12 3:00pm
07/18/2012 3:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kent Animal Shelter’s adoption manager Kristan McCormick (left) and office manager Liza Coppola holding Susie and Nicole, two of the six dogs rescued by The Sato Project from Dead Dog Beach.

Six dogs rescued from what’s called Dead Dog Beach in Puerto Rico were welcomed with loving arms to Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton Tuesday night.

The dogs, which were saved by The Sato Project rescue group, are now looking for permanent homes.

“They really do a lot for these dogs in Puerto Rico and we want to help them as much as we can,” Kent’s adoption manager, Kristan McCormick, said of the Sato group. “I think we can adopt out these guys fairly quickly and find them loving and caring homes.”

Dead Dog Beach is an area in Puerto Rico where stray dogs are routinely abused, killed or starve to death in the sun.

Kent Animal Shelter executive director Pamela Green said she jumped at the chance to help the dogs.

“When I spoke with the director of the Sato Project and heard about Dead Dog Beach and what happens to these misfortune animals, I knew that we had to help,” she said. “Like many other islands of paradise, it’s no paradise for the strays.

“We can find these animals loving homes, and they don’t have to suffer like that.”

This is Kent’s first rescue in partnership with The Sato Project.

For more information about the SATO Project of Puerto Rico, please visit www.thesatoproject.org

02/10/12 5:00pm
02/10/2012 5:00 PM

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Kent Animal Shelter is running a spay promotion this month.

Kent Animal Shelter is trying to “Beat the Heat” this spring with a new special rate for spaying cats as a way to reduce the number of homeless cats, the shelter announced.

All through February, cats can be spayed at the shelter’s clinic for $20. The program, sponsored by animal non-profit group PetSmart Charities, hopes to spay 240 animals before the peak of “kitten season,” when shelters see more kittens than usual due to cats going into heat.

“Many people don’t know that female cats can have as many as three litters a year, and kittens can breed as young as four months old,” said Pamela Green, Executive Director of Kent Animal Shelter. “It’s our goal to bring female cats in before they go into heat and become pregnant.”

The shelter said spaying and neutering is one of the most effective ways to reduce the homeless pet population, and is medically beneficial for kittens as young as eight to 10 weeks old, reducing the risk of reproductive cancers and infections.

The special rate is available to all residents of Long Island. Pet owners must mention the “Beat the Heat” promotion when they schedule their appointment. The promotion is based on availability.

Visit Kent’s website or call the shelter’s clinic at (631) 727-7797 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

psquire@timesreview.com

09/26/11 8:38am
09/26/2011 8:38 AM

People and their pooches came to Martha Clara Vineyards Sunday for the second annual Wines and Canines 5K run/walk to benefit Kent Animal Shelter. Runners and walkers stayed at the Riverhead winery after the event for a Chinese auction, raffles and dog agility demonstrations.

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KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | A participant in the Wines and Canines event at Marth Clara Vineyards.