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Welcome center for animal shelter to be named after husky-shepherd, Duke

Following its “Last Bow Wow” fundraiser earlier this month, a nonprofit group dedicated to creating a better shelter for the town’s homeless animals has made its final donation.

The group formally known as Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter donated $72,650 toward creating a welcome center for the town’s animal shelter set for Calverton. The donation marks the disbanding of the organization founded in 2011 by Denise Lucas. The group changed its name in 2015 to Riverhead Making Towns a Success as a way to expand its efforts to additional causes.

“I’m more than excited about everything,” Ms. Lucas said last Thursday. “I’m thrilled to death that [Supervisor] Sean Walter has totally worked hand-in-hand with us to get the project moving forward.”

The welcome center is set to be named after Ms. Lucas’s 11-year-old husky-shepherd Duke, as outlined in the terms and conditions under which the town is accepting the funds.

“Hopefully he’ll live long enough to be at the grand opening of that lobby,” Ms. Lucas said.

The town is also required to give progress reports on the project. Any funds remaining after two years are to be paid to the RSVP Inc. Animal Welfare & Rescue group, although the supervisor said he suspects “that money will probably be spent pretty darn quickly.”

The Town Board will vote to accept the donation at its first meeting in September, Mr. Walter said at last week’s work session.

The funds will be put toward outfitting the Henry Pfeifer Community Center on Grumman Boulevard in Calverton as a welcome center, with indoor kennels, a cattery, veterinary services and meet-and-greet rooms, Ms. Lucas told the Riverhead News Review earlier this month. A new animal shelter will be built by the North Fork Animal Welfare League, which runs the town’s shelter, on land next door.

Ms. Lucas said she owes the project’s success to RTMAS volunteers and support from the community. About $3,000 the group raised was split up and went to other causes, she said.

“My group and my volunteers were totally amazing and without all of them it wouldn’t have been possible,” she said. “I’m totally blessed to have the people around me that I do.”

Photo caption: Denise Lucas pictured in 2015 with her husky-shepherd, Duke. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

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