01/07/16 6:01am
01/07/2016 6:01 AM

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For hours upon hours every year, local volunteer firefighters train for worst-case scenarios. They prepare for smoke-filled houses and out of control fires. They drill again and again how to handle each type of emergency call — hoping they won’t have to answer one anytime soon.

Nearly a year ago, on Jan. 29, 2015, that kind of worst-case scenario training was put to use. READ

12/10/14 5:00pm
12/10/2014 5:00 PM
Daniella Ferina, Riverhead Foundation staff biologist, administering warmed IV fluids Wednesday morning to a sea turtle. (Credit: Riverhead Foundation)

Daniella Ferina, Riverhead Foundation staff biologist, administering warmed IV fluids Wednesday morning to a sea turtle. (Credit: Riverhead Foundation)

After rescuing two endangered sea turtles in just 24 hours, biologists with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation are asking residents to keep an eye out for cold-stunned sea turtles following Tuesday’s nor’easter.

High tides along the north shore after 3 p.m today could leave turtles stranded on north facing beaches, exposing them to frigid water and air temperatures, according to the organization.

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11/27/14 2:00pm
11/27/2014 2:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOOliver is awake (briefly).Before Oliver, a 2-year-old tabby, was adopted in 2012, he was a stray kitten doing his best to survive in an old barn behind a Southold church.

Now, the blue-eyed beauty is Mr. August 2015 in North Fork Animal Welfare League’s first calendar.

Photographed by volunteer photographer Katharine Schroeder of Cutchogue, the “Adopt Love!” calendar features portraits of cats and dogs that have been adopted from or are still waiting at NFAWL, which operates shelters in Riverhead and Peconic.

NFAWL director Gillian Wood-Pultz said the calendar, which is available for purchase at both shelters and at three local businesses, is selling well. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit group.

“They’re great gifts for Christmas,” she said. “Everybody needs a calendar.”KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOCamo caught in mid-yawn.

Ms. Schroeder, a freelance photographer for Times Review Media Group, said photographing the animals, who were chosen using a lottery system after interested owners sent in pictures of their pets, was “very challenging but lots of fun.”

“Most of the dogs were so friendly they charged right at the camera, trying to lick either me or the lens,” she said. “I used treats and sound effects to get good expressions from them.”

Ms. Schroeder said one dog, a beagle named Bailey, liked having her picture taken so much that she led the photographer to various locations throughout the house and “posed and posed and posed. I never saw anything like it.”

Not surprisingly, getting the cats to cooperate was a bit trickier.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOLayney.“Oliver falls asleep when he gets stressed or loses interest in something,” Ms. Schroeder said. “After taking only a handful of shots of him, he nodded off and there was nothing we could do to wake him up. Luckily, one of the shots was perfect.”

“Adopt Love!” is available for $10 at NFAWL’s Riverhead and Peconic shelters and at Groom and Gear in Mattituck, Dog Town in Southold and Harbor Pets in Greenport.

The calendar is also available for $15 (price includes shipping costs) at nfawl.org.

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Captions: One-year-old Camo (top, right) was adopted by the Schoenstein family in 2013 and is much more canine than feline, his owners say. Layney (middle, left), a 3-year-old pit bull mix, loves playing with the dogs in her neighborhood.

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.

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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)

09/20/14 1:29pm
09/20/2014 1:29 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 1.27.21 PMA kayaker was rescued about five miles off the coast of Riverhead in the Long Island Sound this morning, saved quickly due to a radio beacon she had on hand in the event of an emergency.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the female — identified as 60-year-old Martha Bailie of Cheshire, Conn. — sounded a distress signal around 10:30 a.m.

Kevin Brooks, first assistant chief with the Riverhead Fire Department, said his crew received a call, though the woman had already been saved before they could get their boats in the water.

The USCG said a Suffolk County Police Department helicopter was the first to respond, making contact with the woman at 11:08 a.m. through the use of her Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, which gave off a signal of her approximate location.

Shortly after the Suffolk chopper arrived, a rescue boat crew sent from Coast Guard Station New Haven helped the woman out of the water.

The woman was evaluated and was not in need of medical assistance, according to the Coast Guard.

“Her preparedness was a major factor in us rescuing her today,” said Chief Petty Officer Frank St. Pierre. “We hope that others who are looking to go out on the water take into consideration that they should be prepared for the worst, because being prepared could help save your life.”

07/22/14 10:52am
07/22/2014 10:52 AM
(Credit: Carrie Miller)

A fire gutted a home on Dogwood Drive in Wading River Tuesday morning. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A Wading River woman and her family’s two dogs were rescued from a structure fire that “significantly” damaged a Dogwood Drive home this morning.

About 60 fire personnel from seven different departments responded to the two-story home shortly after 8:20 a.m., Wading River fire officials and Riverhead Town police said at the scene.   (more…)