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Group works to help save fellow New Yorkers’ pets

Jenny Olsen, a Katie’s Kitty pet sitter and co-organizer of Safety Net, works with pet owners to help them keep their pets in hard times.

NEW YORK — Sitting in an animal shelter’s lobby for six hours with a crossword puzzle is a good day for Jenny Olsen.

It means people aren’t surrendering their animals to the shelter — and that Olsen doesn’t have to talk them out of it.

Monday morning was relatively uneventful for the co-organizer of Safety Net, a New York City Animal Care and Control program devoted to catching desperate pet owners when they fall under financial constraints.

“Surrenders are on the rise, but adoptions are, too,” said Olsen, her eyes automatically shifting to the swiveling doors of the ACC’s 110th street shelter, scanning for hesitant owners and pets.

“People come in and we talk to them. We say, ‘If we could help you solve your problem, whatever your problem is, would you want to keep your pet?’ “

More often than not, the answer is no. Of the hundreds of people that Olsen and other Safety Net volunteers encounter in shelter lobbies each month, around 60 percent of owners still surrender their pets.

But then there are the hundreds of other New Yorkers who are willing to fight for their pets, those who pave a way through disastrous situations.

Safety Net, established two years ago, provides New York City pet owners with almost anything needed to prevent a surrender: low cost veterinary fees, food, animal behavior training, legal assistance, boarding and foster homes.

The condition for eligibility — aside from dire financial strain — is simple.

“If people don’t want to work with us, it won’t work,” Olsen said. “We can’t do it all for them.”

What Safety Net does, though, is quite a bit. With the help of 40 volunteers, it operates a seven-day-a-week hotline service, fielding calls about everything from fleas to foreclosures.

The necessity of the go-to network is clear: in January, 115 pet owners called seeking assistance. Last month, 240 people picked up the phone in the name of their pets.

[…]

Queens native Tony Aponte is one Safety Net client who certainly falls under the “trying” category. Within the past two months, both Aponte and his fiance lost their jobs. Last week, they were evicted from their studio apartment in Jackson Heights.

Aponte brushed off their ongoing stay at a local homeless shelter, focusing only on who he described as a “very, very good boy”: Rocky, his 7-year-old American Pit Bull.

“My concern was not having a place for him to be beside us. Just to lay down with us in the bed,” Aponte said.

Rocky had been living in the couple’s van for the past week, as their shelter does not allow pets. Aponte has been trying to spend as much time as he can with the dog, leaving him alone only after 11 p.m., the shelter’s curfew hour.

As Aponte described his dire situation during a phone interview, he was driving around Manhattan in the van, with Rocky snoring in the backseat.

“On Tuesday morning, we walked Rocky and put him in the van and people called the police, thinking the dog was abandoned. The police came and it was this whole big show, saying that we couldn’t be leaving him there,” Aponte said.

With the looming threat of abandoning Rocky in a shelter, Aponte called Safety Net’s hotline. Olsen, whom he dubbed an “angel from above,” sprang into action with the rest of her team, including co-organizer Joy Friedman.

Like the majority of their volunteers, Olsen and Friedman, who hold full-time jobs, consider themselves “unpaid employees,” Olsen says.

Their work led to Rocky’s recent placement in a temporary boarding center, which costs around $80 a week, with the hope that a more permanent foster home will soon become available.

[…]

Safety Net, Olsen says, is still trying to recruit additional volunteers and foster homes. For more information, visit NYCACC.org/safetynet.htm.

Read more about Safety Net at Zootoo.

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Chihuahua wins NYC masquerade contest

Peanut may be little but she’s a big celebrity these days…

Talk about a “rags to riches” story — Peanut, a rescue Chihuahua from North Brunswick, took first prize at the Times Square Dog Day Masquerade held in New York City on Oct 19.

Dressed up as Elle Wood from “Legally Blonde,” Peanut won “Best in Show,” and bested more than 85 canines, 20 of which were Chihuahuas.”

Last year’s winner was a Chihuahua also, and people said there was a conspiracy,” said Peanut’s owner, Heather Scheffold, a North Brunswick resident and member of the North Brunswick Humane Association (NBHA).

The 4-pound pooch sported a blond wig, tiara, hot pink sweater and sunglasses, although the glasses were an afterthought.

“That was a fluke. She was squinting and those were mine and I put them on her and she never shook her head once,” Scheffold said.

Peanut, 8, was fostered two years ago by Scheffold when the dog was brought into the Old Bridge Animal Shelter. Her humble beginnings started at the North Brunswick Dog Walk-a-Thon. She’s walked in the North Brunswick Memorial Day parades, and won the 2007 L’Oreal “Your Dog’s Worth It, Too” costume contest, but the Times Square contest put her on the map.

[…]

The Chihuahua’s owner learned of the Times Square event through the New Jersey Chihuahua Meetup Group, a group of 70-80 dogs she co-founded one year ago. She’s also championing NBHA’s Project Shelter effort.

This is where Peanut’s “parading” comes into play.

“I do it to socialize her and I want to get the word out that you can find a purebred Chihuahua in a shelter — there’s no need to go to a pet store,” Scheffold said.

Peanut is the NBHA’s official mascot, and emceed its dog walks in 2007 and 2008.

Upon getting the pooch from the shelter, “I didn’t want to leave her home when I first got her, so I brought her to NBHA meetings dressed in a sweater, and they encouraged me to make her our official mascot in their parade,” Scheffold said.

Read more about Peanut.

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Marathon runners raise money for pet charity

This year’s NYC Marathon included runners who were raising money for the North Shore Animal League…

Dari Passarello would never say running a marathon is easy, but she’s found something that helps her keep going.

Passarello is part of a 20-member team running Sunday’s NYC Marathon to raise money for the North Shore Animal League, the Long Island shelter for abandoned and abused animals.

“Running for charity keeps you motivated,” said Passarello, a Richmond native who attended St. Joseph Hill Academy and now lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “All sponsorship money goes directly to benefit the NSAL’s mission, which is provide permanent homes for orphaned animals,”

The NSAL team includes the league’s spokesperson Beth Ostrosky, who recently married radio personality Howard Stern. The Go Beth O team had set a goal of raising $262K, but according to Passarello and the group’s Web site, they already have pledges totaling almost $291K.

“I knew Beth was organizing the team,” said Passarello, vice president of business and legal affairs for The Nielsen Company, better known to most as the TV ratings company. “I adore animals and I’m athletic, so I’m happy to combine the two.”

The Staten Island Advance has the rest.

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Adopting a dog from a breed rescue group

by Mary “Tief” Tieffenbrunn – CCHS Humane Education Chair and volunteer for Illinois Bird Dog Rescue

What is a breed rescue group?

A breed rescue group is usually a group of volunteers that work together to shelter and rehome dogs of a specific breed. Most breed rescue groups obtain homeless dogs from over crowded animal shelters, impound facilities, and owner surrenders. Most breed rescue groups keep their rescued dogs in “foster homes” rather than in a kennel environment. This way, the dog’s quality of life immediately improves upon entering the rescue and he has the opportunity to learn how to be a well-behaved house dog before he is adopted and goes to his new “forever home.”

A few things you can expect:

Many breed rescues are run entirely by volunteers. Sometimes you will not get an immediate return phone call or email about your inquiry or application because the volunteers are very busy taking care of dogs and their other responsibilities. Dealing with a breed rescue can require some patience.
Breed rescues charge more for adoptions than the average animal shelter. These small non-profit groups spend a lot of money transporting, caring for, and sometimes providing medical treatment to the dogs that they rescue. For that reason, they often ask for a substantial donation from their adopters.

A good rescue group will . . .

A good breed rescue group will tell you both the wonderful and the “challenging” characteristics of the breed. The rescue will want you to understand what it is truly like to live with this type of dog. Successful adoptions happen when expectations match up with reality! The rescue should also be forthcoming with information about the breed’s genetic predispositions for health problems.

A good breed rescue group will carefully determine which dogs are suitable for adoption and will not warehouse dogs. The responsible rescue is careful to be sure that the dogs it offers for adoption are of sound temperament.

A good breed rescue will have a thorough application and interview process. Many breed rescues include a home visit as part of the application process and will not approve your adoption until the home visit is accomplished. The rescue might also contact your veterinarian as a reference.

A good breed rescue will want to hear from you after you take your new dog home and will require that you return the dog to the rescue in the event that things do not work out.

Questions to Ask a Breed Rescue Group:

  1. When and how did the dog come into rescue?
  2. Does the dog have any medical conditions?
  3. Is the dog current with vaccinations?
  4. Is the dog spayed/neutered?
  5. Is the dog on heartworm prevention?
  6. If the dog has been in foster care, ask to speak to the foster guardian about the dog’s personality and how it behaves in the home. You’ll want to know . . .
  • Is the dog housebroken? Crate trained?
  • Is the dog good with children? Other dogs? Cats?
  • Does the dog walk nicely on leash? / Has he had any training?
  • Does the dog have any fears: men? thunderstorms? riding in cars? being left alone?
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Litter box training

All felines CCHS puts up for adoption are known to use the litter box. However, it is desirable to confine your new pet to the room with the litter box when she is first brought home, so she can learn its location.

  • Buy a litter box for each cat in the household, since some cats will not use a box used by another cat or may prevent other pets from using a particular box.
  • Place the litter box in a quiet location that is easily accessible to your pet. If disturbed or frightened while using the box, your pet may start eliminating elsewhere. Your pet may avoid using the box if it is too far away or takes a lot of effort to reach.
  • There are several types of litter available. Most cats prefer “clumping” litter over clay litter.
  • Reduce litter box odor by removing solid waste daily, and, if you use clay litter, changing all the litter at least weekly.

Common reasons cats may start eliminating outside the box include:

  • Urinary tract obstruction or other health problem. Call your veterinarian immediately! Your pet’s life could be in danger.
  • The litter box is too small or too dirty.
  • Your pet is spraying urine to mark territory or reduce anxiety.
  • Something about the litterbox, litter, or your household has changed and your pet objects.

To correct inappropriate elimination, confine your pet to a bathroom or large crate with the litterbox until you can correct the cause. Many things can trigger this problem. CCHS or your veterinarian can help you pinpoint the cause and suggest appropriate corrections.

Thanks to Humane Education Committee, Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 East Main, Urbana, IL 61801 USA

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Keep your cat indoors

Although cats are smart, alert, and adroit, they are no match for the many perils that await them outside. That’s why the average outdoor cat lives only a third as long than the cat who’s kept safely inside. Consider these threats:

Disease – Feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus are only two of the diseases that are passed from cat to cat and, once contracted, result in the eventual death of the pet. Outside cats are even more likely than dogs to dome into contact with rabid wild animals.

Parasites – Outdoor cats suffer from fleas, ticks, ear mites, and worms that indoor cats are not generally exposed to.
Poisoning – Poisons are found in lawn chemicals, bait left out to kill rodents, antifreeze, and other sources.

Other Animals – Fights with other cats, dogs, and wildlife often leave cats maimed or injured.

People – In our own community as well as others across the nation, cats have been the victims of burning, ritual torture and other abuses.

Cars – Cats often crawl into warm car engines in cold weather and are killed or badly injured when the unsuspecting driver starts the car. Most outdoor cats die prematurely from auto accidents. It is a myth that cats are “streetwise” about cars. No matter how alert, a cat is no match for a fast moving vehicle. Unaltered cats allowed to roam and mate account for millions of the cats who must be euthanized each year because there aren’t enough homes for them.

Becoming Lost or Trapped – Few cats reported missing are recovered by their owners. Some people who notice a cat in the area assume it can find its way home. Others assume the cat is abandoned and care for it without attempting to locate the owner. Cats may become inadvertently trapped for days as they explore a neighbor’s shed or a dumpster.

Cats can be completely happy inside if you provide them with toys, good care, and lots of love and attention. If you have a kitten, start out right by never letting him outside.Older cats often make the transition to being indoor pets easily. Some, however, will take extra time and attention. Gradually reducing the amount of time your pet is allowed outside, increasing play time with your cat, taking it out on a harness and lead, or constructing or purchasing and outdoor enclosure can help ease the transition.

Thanks to Humane Education Committee, Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 East Main, Urbana, IL 61801 USA

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Dog runs & off leash areas in NYC

New York City parks are dog friendly. The Parks Department has designated certain areas within parks welcome dogs. Park hours are 9am-9pm. When using dog friendly areas, the Parks Department requires that owners have proof of current dog license and rabies vaccination. Two types of areas exist which allow the owner and dog to enjoy NYC parks:

Dog Runs: Large, fensed in areas in which dogs can excerise unleashed. These runs are designed for play, while providing good drainage, safe lighting, and health plantings.

Off Leash Areas: Dogs are permitted to be off leash from 9am to 9pm. Park Rules must be observed at all times.

Dog Runs

Carl Schurz Park (2 runs)
East End Ave. from East 84th to East 89th Sts.
Upper East Side
www.carlschurzparknyc.orgChelsea Waterside Park
11th Ave. and 22nd St.
Chelsea
www.hudsonriverpark.orgColeman Oval Park
Pike and Monroe Streets
Downtown
www.nyc.gov/parksDeWitt Clinton Park
West 52nd to West 54th Sts (10th to 11th Ave.)
Clinton (Hell’s Kitchen)
www.nyc.gov/parksEast River Park Dance Oval
East River at East 60th St.
Upper East Side
www.nyc.gov/parksFish Bridge Park
Dover St. between Pearl & Water Sts.
Downtown
www.nyc.gov/parks

Hudson River Park
Leroy St. at NE corner of Pier 40
Greenwich Village
www.hudsonriverpark.org

Hudson River Park
Pier 84 at West 44th St.
Chelsea/Midtown
www.hudsonriverpark.org

Madison Square Park
East 23rd to East 26th St. (Madison to Fifth Ave.)
Flatiron
www.madisonsquarepark.org

Peter Detmold Park
West of FDR Drive from East 49th to East 51st St.
Turtle Bay
www.nyc.gov/parks

Riverside Park (3 runs)
Riverside Drive at West 72nd, West 87th & West 105th St.
Upper West Side
www.nyc.gov/parks

Robert Moses Park
First Ave from 41st to 42nd St.
Turtle Bay/United Nations
www.nyc.gov/parks

Theodore Roosevelt Park
Central Park West at 81st St.
Upper West Side
www.nyc.gov/parks

Thomas Jefferson Park
East 112th St. at FDR Drive
East Harlem
www.nyc.gov/parks

Tompkins Square Park
First Ave to Ave. B from East 7th to East 10th St.
East Village
www.nyc.gov/parks

Washington Square Park
Fifth Ave., Waverly Place, West 4th St. between McDougal and Thompson Sts.
Greenwich Village
www.washingtonsquarepark.org

Off Leash Areas

Central Park
Midtown/Upper East & West Sides
www.centralpark.com

East River Park
Montgomery to 12th St. at FDR Drive
Lower East Side/East Village
www.nyc.gov/parks

Riverside Park
Riverside Drive at 72nd St.
Upper West Side
www.nyc.gov/parks

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