2011-03-09 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

It is official. Last Hope Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation is getting a new home. As of April 1, Last Hope will be moving into the closed Bideawee adoption center in Wantagh, leasing most of the first floor to house our dogs and some of our cats. This is a wonderful opportunity for Last Hope, rescued pets, and animal lovers all over LI because this spacious facility has been empty for two years.

On March 8, 2009, citing decreased revenue during the global economic collapse, Bideawee’s Board of Directors shut the Wantagh adoption center and relocated pets to their Manhattan and Westhampton shelters. The pet cemetery (where President Nixon’s famous Cocker, Checkers is buried) and learning/ training centers (held in the separate former clinic) remained operational at the 3300 Beltagh Ave. location. The veterinary clinic, once open to the public, had closed as a hospital several years prior.

“Lady” ~ Yorkie “Lady” ~ Yorkie Use of a shelter as lovely as this is a dream come true for Last Hope, a smaller, all-volunteer rescue. Last Hope president Linda Stuurman approached Bideawee right away about renting the Wantagh shelter, but at first Bideawee was uncertain about their future plans. They held several adopt-a-thons, re-opening Wantagh on Sundays to promote their NYC and Westhampton pets. After that, the building stood idle except for lending the shelter to Last Hope twice for free feral cat spay/neuter days.

Last Hope and Bideawee have been in rental negotiations for almost two years. The building is huge, so affording all of it is beyond our budget. At first, Last Hope wanted a smaller section, leasing the lobby with three glass enclosed Meet n’ Greet rooms and food prep areas for cats; and then retro-fitting the cattery with our fiberglass dog runs. We were not considering the kennel side until converting the cattery for dogs became too tight and difficult. Now Last Hope will be using 12 of the existing kennel runs for the dogs, and the original cattery plus other rooms for felines.

“Leo” ~ Basset Hound “Leo” ~ Basset Hound The Wantagh site gives Last Hope the chance to expand and centralize. Last Hope, founded in 1981, is a grass roots group with various programs manned by approximately 100 unpaid helpers. Shelters for dogs and cats have always been separate. The move to Wantagh brings Last Hope foster pets together under one roof as a full-fledged, or should I say, full-furred, dog and cat shelter. We will become “bi-petual” with the dog and cat volunteers now able to work side by side.

The main Last Hope Cat Center has been at 581 W. Jericho Tpke. in Huntington while additional cats are showcased inside seven pet food retailers throughout Nassau and Suffolk, the largest being PetSmart in Huntington Station. (I oversee the cat cage at Petland N. Babylon.) Last Hope’s Huntington Cat Center will stay open for now; the satellite stores will not change.

Since 2005, the Last Hope Dog Center has been adjacent to Basic Pet Care in Lindenhurst. The ten raised, fiberglass dog runs were a generous gift from the Hymans of Alure Construction years before TV’s Extreme Make-over showed the nation their kindness. By April 1 all Last Hope dogs will be in Wantagh. We are extremely grateful to Dr. Peter Lugten and his staff for the care and devotion shown our foster pups over the last six years.

The big move, though thrilling, brings many challenges. First, Last Hope relies on donations and grants to finance all programs, including public outreach such as subsidized Fix-A-Feral certificates. Operating costs will be much higher now so more fundraisers will have to be added to an already crowded calendar. Visiting and outpatient vet care is still in the planning stage because Last Hope dogs will no longer have a veterinarian as a landlord and neighbor. New arrangements must be made for a.m. and p.m. feedings.

The Wantagh shelter is in an interesting location, right next to the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, which provides a study in contrast. It is unfair to compare a municipal shelter like Hempstead (responsible for public safety and animal control) that must take in all strays to a private rescue like Bideawee or Last Hope that can be selective about animals accepted. Last Hope will have 12 dogs at a time maximum, whereas Hempstead Shelter always has at least 100.

Over the years, Last Hope and Hempstead Shelter have worked cooperatively. Abandonment is a fact of life outside all pet establishments. Animals dumped at our doorstep will be taken next door for legal and ethical reasons. All Last Hope dogs come from town shelters but we will continue to assist various towns, including my first loyalty-Babylon.

Last Hope’s name recognition in Wantagh will come slowly. Bideawee owns the vast property and maintains the cemetery and community center so we must share signs. People do get confused. The ASPCA stopped running the NYC municipal shelters decades ago but visitors still mistake NYC Animal Care & Control for the ASPCA.

Presently, many Last Hope volunteers help out near their homes. Some will be reluctant to go with the flow because of driving distance. We realize certain folks may not want to travel to Wantagh, but we are also hoping to attract dedicated, former Bideawee volunteers who have been just waiting for the shelter to re-open. To request a Last Hope volunteer application: visit www.lasthopeanimalrescue.org or call 516-935-0503; 516-935-6545.

This new venture coincides with Last Hope’s 30th anniversary in rescue. Cleaning and painting begins in Wantagh next week. As Stuurman says: “All hands and minds are asked to join us in this exciting chapter in Last Hope’s history.”

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Two purebred poster pups this week include “Leo” #92924 a two-year-old Basset Hound and “Lady” #93925 a three-year-old Yorkshire Terrier. Each is fabulous, but I am biased. They are “Babylon Beauties”.

Male: “Valentino”- smooth Akita mix pup with a broken leg; “Fanto”- handsome German Shepherd.

Female: “Kit” #93910 a skinny Hound enjoying home cooking at the shelter; “Lydia” #93376- lovely Pit; “Xena” #93832-Rottie; “Ali” #93828-brindle pup.

Cats: choice of purrsonality pluses such as “Jules”, “April”, “Snowball” and “Kitty” the calico.

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