Pets Alive Westchester – A Year to Remember

By Erin Guilshan, Executive Director
Pets Alive Westchester

 

700 LIVES SAVED
As we close out the last chapter of 2014, we reflect upon the year with both joy and gratitude. We saved hundreds of lives and adopted nearly 700 pets into kittiesloving homes this past year.  If it wasn’t for all of the support that people like you give to us, we could never have done this. We save animals everywhere by any means possible, including those that need medical care.  We have a soft spot for those animals that need us the most like the ones that are put on kill lists because no one wants to treat their medical conditions.  We get in animals with broken bones, ones that required surgeries, and those with chronic medical conditions that sometimes just need proper medication, nourishment and love in order to be healthy again. A little TLC goes a long way.

There are times when animals have come to us so severely neglected that although we can’t undo all that has happened to them in the past, we are able to give them a better future.

 

princess fiona before and afterPRINCESS FIONA – Escapes the Kill List for a Second Chance
She is a wonderful senior Shih Tzu that was just moments from her deadline when we pulled her from the NYCACC Kill List. Instead of treating her, they were going to euthanize her. She has Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Both are treatable. She had lost most of her hair on her body from the diseases she carries, but if she was treated, it would have grown back. Her quality of life would have improved. Some of what she needed was so simple like a bath and to be groomed. These are all things that we are giving to her and we know there is someone out there who will love this sweet girl for the rest of her life. We are able to see through the disaster that she had become because of neglect. We see in her a beautiful girl who will be healthy and will have someone to love very soon. In a matter of a day, this is the the change that was made just to her appearance alone. Imagine what a week, two weeks, a month will bring.

ballMINNIE’S RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY
Minnie is a 16 week old puppy that underwent what is called recto-vaginal reconstructive surgery so that a separation could be made between her vagina and rectum as well as the construction of an anus. She had no anus and her rectum was connected to her vagina and that’s how she was passing feces. She had her surgery and we are happy to report she is doing wonderfully! Minnie’s pre-op and surgery was $3,000 – without this surgery she would not have survived much longer – we had to act quickly. We are happy to report she is doing wonderfully! She was adopted by a loving family where she will live a long and healthy life.

 

LUCKY
He arrived to us as a puppy with a seveLucky Before & Afterre case of Demodex (a form of non-contagious mange) that was left untreated. All he needed was treatment and some time to recover. His coat is now a beautiful one as you can see in his picture. It’s hard to believe this is the same dog. Over time the changes have been stunning. He was taken in by this amazing family when he needed them the most and he never left. A little TLC and a chance changed his life.

 

roxy and rex 2TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE
One of the stories that captured our hearts in 2014 was one about two dogs that were tied up to one of our fences at Pets Alive Westchester. They were left with a note telling us their names were Roxy & Rex and that they were 3 year old siblings. They stole our hearts instantly and quickly became favorite dogs for both volunteers and staff. Roxy & Rex were two huge American Bulldog mixes that got so much attention. Rex loved getting all the attention having his back scratched and belly rubbed while he would grunt and make talking noises for more. Roxy was a sweetheart that was always close-by her brother’s side. We knew that Rex felt a protective spirt toward his sister and they had to be adopted together. They were a bonded pair that we would not separate. This made it harder to adopt them as many people are not looking for two huge dogs. But their time did come and a wonderful couple eventually adopted them and has been giving them a life they could have only dreamed of. Roxy’s and Rex’s mom and dad even bought a new home so that they could adopt them. They had been looking at homes, but pushed it even faster so they could adopt them both as soon as they laid eyes on them. Its heartwarming things that happenroxy and rex like this that give us the incentive to always remember why we do what we do. Why we make sacrifices in our own lives. Why we go the extra mile. So that pets like Roxy and Rex have a chance at a better life.

 

WEATHERING THE STORM
One word has stuck with us through this year and that word is RESILIANCE. We found out something that we had always suspected to be true of us – that we could get through anything together. We certainly had our fair share of “storms” this past year that may have left us a little battered, but not broken.  What we found was that although these challenges were not easy to get through, we could get through them together. What we do at PAW is not a 9-5 job. We come in early. We leave late. We work from home. When we aren’t working you can bet we are thinking about an animal. What one person may call a job we call a lifestyle that can bring great joy as well as heartbreak. There are a certain breed of people that can do this day in and day out – it’s those that do feel the emotional aspects of our business that do it well. Those that are closed off in order to protect their own hearts need to know it’s time to leave animal welfare. Closing your heart is not the answer to help these poor souls that need us the most. Peoples hearts need to be kept open and available to give and receive the goodness that comes from saving these precious lives.  People often say to us, “I don’t know how you do it”. They don’t realize that we cry too at times. That our hearts break as well. We are not shut off from the pain and the suffering we’ve seen. Just the opposite. We understand the pain and suffering that happens is all too real and we want to fix them all. Take care of them all. Save them all.

January 1st 2014 didn’t start off as we had planned. We started the year off with our heat breaking during the coldest winter in our history. With the Polar Vortex looming around NY with beyond freezing temperatures, the heat suddenly stopped working. As it turned out, the oil lines throughout the building were not supporting the furnaces and we needed new lines installed. We all took turns staying overnight for weeks to prime the furnaces and make sure the heat stayed on 24 hours a day until it was fixed. Once it was in working order again, we were incredibly relieved (and exhausted).

constructionsWhile we were getting our heat fixed, we were also under construction. A new roof, insulation and renovated kennels were all happening at once. Being down two of our four kennels we had to be careful on how many new dogs we took in as we had limited space to put them. We are always rescuing animals in need and not being able to do as much as we were used to was very difficult.

By the beginning of March the kennels were ready and the roof was complete. The dogs had moved into the new, spacious kennels with stainless steel fencing that would see us though many years to come.

Marisol & Rob Thomas’ foundation, Sidewalk Angels, funded these projects and without them, we would never have been able to do all of this. We will be forever grateful for all they do for the Pets Alive organization. Their love of animals and those in need is inspiring.

Seeing the dogs in their new runs was by far one of the happiest days of our lives. We waited so long for this day to come that it almost seemed like it wouldn’t actually arrive. We had been making so many great improvements to Pets Alive Westchester and we were feeling on top of the world when the dogs moved into the new kennels. One of the staff members said to me the day they moved, “Now we can go back to normal and rescue more dogs”. This was always on the forefront of everyone’s minds. When we could do more rescuing. Being able to do this full throttle again was such a relief.

new kennels1

I know it might sound silly, but I swear the dogs were smiling as we walked by them in their new dog runs. Maybe they were smiling because we were so happy twiggyand they picked up on our energy and were just living off of those good vibes, but either way we were ALL smiling – including our dogs! For that moment and for days ahead there was an unstoppable feeling of new hope that generated throughout Pets Alive Westchester, the staff and the volunteers. We were better than ever and we were all living off of the natural high of rescuing animals in need, having our dogs in wonderful new kennels and having hope for better days ahead. The love we had for our “home away from home” shined through everyone and it seemed to be a contagious feeling to anyone who walked through our doors.

We felt unstoppable and had many great ideas and plans that we were moving forward with day by day and week by week. A new medical exam room that was donated was about to be put in the quarantine section of our kennels for our dogs. A new cat intake room was just created with brand new donated cages that would prevent disease from spreading and keep our cats in a spacious and clean environment while they were in there. We were developing a new adoption area, creating new spaces for our cats and bunnies as well as a store for new adopters to purchase items from. The new ideas of how to improve and what to do next were unlimited and we were doing them all. The needs had been so great for so long, and the time had come to make the necessary changes. We just kept chipping away at the next project and kept on going with what seemed to be an unlimited amount of energy, creativity and projects. The hard work and dedication from the PAW staff has been so impressive. The staff inspires each other, motivates each other and instills a sense of pride in all that they do. Pride for making PAW what it should. No matter what the task at hand has been, no matter how large of an obstacle that seemed to be in our way, we found a way to make it happen.

We were at the top of our game.

 

ONE WEEK LATER WE EVACUATED THE BUILDING
And our hearts broke.

1888538_620140018056157_2058908690_nThroughout all that we had been through we never for a moment would think that we would ever have to leave our building and find homes and other resources for our animals. But it happened.

It still has an impact on me to even write about this. It was by far one of the most difficult times in our lives. Remember, this IS our life. The animals are one of the biggest and most important parts of our lives.

That day, evacuating our animals out of the building tore our hearts apart. Where there was once hope, pride and joy was replaced with extreme sadness, concern and devastation. There was not one set of eyes for me to look into that didn’t look hollow or weren’t bloodshot from the tears. The words that couldn’t be spoken because there were just no words to express the deep sadness and disbelief was deafening. It all seemed so surreal that day for all of us and to this day we are still recovering from this on many fronts, both emotionally as well as financially. Read more about this in the blog we wrote called Our Greatest Challenge.

You can also see us evacuating our building in this article and video news clip.

Thankfully our animals are back in our building and we have been in full swing of saving lives and adopting them into wonderfulevac homes since July.

During that time, despite having no building, we were still able to save 100 animals and adopt them into loving homes. With or without a building, we never gave up and we never stopped rescuing.

To improve the lives of companion animals everywhere by any means possible, including rescue, adoption, advocacy, collaboration, intervention and education. This is our mission statement that we stand by and live by. This is who we are and this is what we do.

 

gottiBACK STRONGER THAN EVER
Since coming back to our building our dogs have been loving the improved dog kennels. The lives that are being saved are more than ever before in our history and we are back in full throttle saving lives, rehabilitating and making a difference for the animals in our care.

We could not have gotten through all we did without you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

2015 is going to be an exciting year with some great things to come. We have repairs that will need to be done to our building and two kennels that still need to be renovated. There is still so much that has to be done in order for our pets to have the best home until they find a real home. Stay tuned and continue to support these wonderful animals. They need you.

Donate now to help us to continue our mission, to save more lives, give medical care when needed, feed and care for animals. You are all they have.




Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill, Updates, Why we do this by Erin Guilshan on Dec 31, 2014.  There are 1 Comment

One Response to “Pets Alive Westchester – A Year to Remember”

  1. Annette Barletta Says:

    Erin, thanks so much for this newsletter. PAWS does a fabulous job rescuing and rehabilitating animals. You’ve all done a wonderful job in 2014, but, as no one knows more than you, is a job that never ends. These communications are important reminders that we need to continue our support throughout the year. Please keep them coming (Maybe quarterly?). Happy New Year and Heartfelt Thanks to All!

Leave a Reply