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Top stories of 2018: Dog shelter gets new digs

In October, North Fork Animal Welfare League moved into its new location on Church Lane in Aquebogue.

The six-acre site was formerly home to Scoshire Kennels, whose owners sold the property and retired. Referred to on their website as the “Taj Mahal of kennels,” the property boasts 24 interior kennel runs and 16 outdoor runs, along with exercise areas and showers for larger dogs.

“We realized it was already a shelter, so it was a perfect fit for us,” executive director Gillian Wood Pultz said.

Riverhead Town has contracted NFAWL to operate their animal shelter and act as the town’s animal control department since 2013. The group has operated the Southold Town animal shelter since 1980.

The contract was renewed for three years in 2016, paying NFAWL a total of $714,405. The contract will expire at the end of February 2019.

With a new property, the town will cease to operate the shelter on Youngs Avenue, located across from the town landfill and next to Crown Recycling.

“We were literally working in the dump,” Ms. Wood Pultz said, adding that walking dogs on Youngs Avenue was dangerous due to frequent truck traffic on the roadway.

Prior to purchasing the Church Lane property, NFAWL had plans to build a new kennel on the EPCAL site in Calverton, using the existing Henry Pfeiffer Community Center for cats and office space.

It would have required variances from the Suffolk County Department of Health and state Department of Environmental Conservation to proceed.

The new Church Lane facility offers a much more secluded, quiet area for the animals. “This is so much better already than where we were,” Ms. Wood Pultz said.

NFAWL plans to house both dogs and cats at their new shelter, and will not leave dogs outside overnight.

Small renovations are planned, including creating a cat adoption center.

The former shelter could not accommodate cats.

Even without the renovations, Ms. Wood Pultz said the location is “infinitely better” than the Youngs Avenue shelter.

Photo caption: Executive director Gillian Wood Pultz at the new shelter. (Tim Gannon photo)