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North Fork Animal Welfare League moves into Aquebogue facility

The North Fork Animal Welfare League now has a new animal shelter for Riverhead Town.

NFAWL, which had originally been seeking to build a town shelter at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, has instead purchased a six-acre property on Church Lane in Aquebogue that had until recently been used as a kennel and dog grooming site since 1984, according to executive director Gillian Wood Pultz.

“We realized it was already a shelter, so it was a perfect fit for us,” she said. “It’s six wooded acres and we’re in the middle of it.”

NFAWL is planning to have both dogs and cats at the new shelter. The former Youngs Avenue site was not big enough to handle cats, she said.

Meanwhile, plans for the town-owned EPCAL site were dropped.

“We were trying to make the EPCAL project feasible, because it seemed like a great idea,” she said. “It seemed like a great marriage at the beginning.”

NFAWL had planned to build a new kennel on the southern portion of EPCAL while using the existing Henry Pfeiffer Community Center building as space for cats as well as for offices.

“Unfortunately, based on the geographics of where the site is located, the town needed a variance from both the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Department of Health. And years into this project, and we still weren’t fully permitted,” Ms. Wood Pultz said.

The town’s animal shelter on Youngs Avenue, which NFAWL is moving out of, is located across from the town landfill and next to Crown Recycling, as well as the site where the town buries roadkill.

“We were literally working in the dump,” Ms. Wood Pultz said. “The smell of death was wafting over us all the time, and walking dogs on Youngs Avenue was fairly dangerous with all the trucks going back and forth all the time.”

NFAWL has been in contract with Riverhead Town to operate an animal shelter and act as the town’s animal control department since 2013. The Riverhead shelter has five full-time employees and two part-timers, along with a number of volunteers.

The nonprofit organization also has been under contract with neighboring Southold Town to run its shelter since 1980.

The new shelter is the former site of Scoshire Kennels, whose owners wanted to retire, Ms. Wood Pultz said. They had operated the kennel right up until the beginning of October, and NFAWL began moving into the site the day after the sale was finalized last Wednesday, she said.

“This is so much better already than where we were,” she said. “It’s already infinitely better than the shelter we had before we’d even done a single renovation.”

The animals were moved into the new location by Monday.

NFAWL will not leave dogs outside at night, and it will have a staff member who is a dog trainer living in a home on the site, Ms. Wood Pultz said.

“We will be extremely conscientious of our neighbors, who are pretty far away to begin with,” she said.

NFAWL will continue all the same programs and services it has been offering.

“Everything will be the same, we’re just doing it out of a nicer place,” Ms. Wood Pultz said.

Photo caption: Gillian Wood Pultz, the executive director of NFAWL. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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