Riverhead Woman raises $12k for new town animal shelter

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Denise Lucas receives a $2,225 donation from her boss Tom Otis for the Move the Animal Shelter fund.

A Riverhead woman who has made it her quest to raise money to build a new facility for the Riverhead Town animal shelter, has raised over $12,000 for the cause in just five weeks.

Denise Lucas received her most recent donation, a $2,225 check from her boss Tom Oits, the owner of Otis Ford car dealership in Quogue, which brought her to that number Friday. Mr. Otis donated $25 for every car sold at the dealership throughout the month of October.

“I felt very much compelled to take an active interest in her pursuit,” Mr. Otis said.

Ms. Lucas, who raised $3,000 in her first week by knocking on doors and asking for donations, plans on raising $200,000 in the next year for a new municipal facility. She calls the effort the “Move the Animal Shelter” fund or MTAS.

Her vision includes shuttering the Youngs Avenue facility and building a shelter in a location that is not near a landfill and where volunteers aren’t asked to walk dogs around an overgrown sump, as they are at the current shelter. It is not clear how much a new building will cost.

Ms. Lucas said she would like to see larger dog runs, space for the town to take in cats and a shelter that can host school field trips.

“It’s sorely needed,” said Town Councilman Jim Wooten, the Town Board liaison to the shelter.

Ms. Lucas is hosting several upcoming events for the cause. On Nov. 18, a steak night dinner will be held at Polish Hall. Tickets are $35.00 per person and include raffles, door prizes, a cash bar, and a live band. On Dec. 17, there will be a Riverhead MTAS Christmas Party at Eagles Landing Caterers at the Calverton Links golf course. Tickets are $25 per person and include a buffet dinner, dessert, beer and wine tasting, raffles, door prizes, cash bar and a live band.

She is also scheduling fundraisers for January and February. For more information or to reserve tickets call Ms. Lucas at 516-768-7467. Tickets can also be purchased on Ms. Lucas’ website,

“I’m going to to do whatever I can to bring awareness,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton is also embarking on a campaign to raise $2.5 million for a new 10,000-square-foot facility for the private shelter.

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