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)

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…)

08/12/14 12:00pm
08/12/2014 12:00 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The Pfiefer community center building in Calverton.

The Pfiefer community center building in Calverton. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

Plans to move the Riverhead Animal Shelter to the Henry Pfeifer Community Center building in Calverton have become a bit more definitive.

The nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which operates the town’s shelter on Youngs Avenue, announced it has signed a lease agreement with Riverhead Town for use of the building.  (more…)

06/06/14 10:00am
06/06/2014 10:00 AM
Eileen Kreiling, manager of the North Fork Animal Welfare League's Riverhead shelter, with 4-year-old pitbull Benny, who has been at the shelter since February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Eileen Kreiling, manager of the North Fork Animal Welfare League’s Riverhead shelter, with 4-year-old pitbull Benny, who has been at the shelter since February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

When speaking about his work as an animal advocate in town government, Councilman James Wooten will often repeat a quote widely attributed to Mahatma Ghandi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

On this front, Riverhead Town and Suffolk County governments have each made great strides over the past few years to better care for and protect animals: this in a state that consistently ranks near the bottom in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual report on animal protection laws in the U.S. (more…)

06/03/14 2:00pm
06/03/2014 2:00 PM

liveblog

The Riverhead Town Board will hold a public hearing this afternoon to discuss moving the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which operates the town animal shelter, to a portion of the Henry Pfeifer Community Center, a town-owned building that underwent a nearly-half million-dollar renovation about a decade ago. (more…)

05/14/14 12:38pm
05/14/2014 12:38 PM
After he was missing for six months, Charlie was reunited at home in Mattituck with Kayla and Greg Masem and 18-month-old Wyatt. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

After she was missing for six months, Charlie was reunited at home in Mattituck with Kayla and Greg Masem and 18-month-old Wyatt.
(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

After escaping from her Mattituck home in November, 5-year-old Charlie heard her name for the first time in six months on Friday.

With a wagging tail and lots of kisses, the settler/pointer mix was undeniably happy to be finally recognized by someone, anyone — in this case, a staffer at the Southold Animal Shelter.  (more…)

05/07/14 5:30pm
05/07/2014 5:30 PM
Eileen Kreiling, manager of the North Fork Animal Welfare League's Riverhead shelter, with 4-year-old pitbull Benny, who has been at the shelter since February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Eileen Kreiling, manager of the North Fork Animal Welfare League’s Riverhead shelter, with 4-year-old pitbull Benny, who has been at the shelter since February. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

In a divided vote Tuesday, the Riverhead Town Board scheduled June 3 hearings for two proposals connected with moving the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which operates the town animal shelter, to the property holding the Henry Pfeifer Community Center in Calverton, a town-owned building that underwent a nearly half-million-dollar renovation about a decade go and has been underutilized ever since.

“It was a monumental day in Riverhead for the animals,” said Denise Lucas, head of Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, another nonprofit that has held more than 40 fundraisers in the past two years to offset the cost of finding a new town animal shelter.

The vote took place in a room filled with supporters. And while none of them spoke, they burst into applause after a deciding third vote in favor of the hearings was tallied. Ms. Lucas said more than 30 “animal people” attended.

The 3-2 vote — with Supervisor Sean Walter and councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy in favor and council members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen opposed — technically concerned only two issues: scheduling public hearings on the transfer of the Pfeifer building to the town from the community development agency and signing a no-rent land lease allowing NFAWL to build a new kennel on the town land and use the building as a shelter.

However, the 3-2 split could foretell how board members will vote next month on moving the shelter to the Pfeifer building.

“The [current animal shelter] on Youngs Avenue is inadequate and poorly located,” Mr. Wooten said.

Mr. Gabrielsen disagreed, saying that the Pfeifer building “is a hostile environment for dogs” and adding that it’s in an industrial park next to railroad tracks. He’d prefer that the town sell or lease the property, and use the proceeds in the town’s recreation department.

“We’ve got close to 1,000 kids in lacrosse, football and soccer that need more room … versus 18 dogs in the shelter. Pick your priority,” Mr. Gabrielsen has said in recent weeks.