From Broken Spirits to Thriving Lives!

By Erin Small-Guilshan, Shelter Manager Pets Alive Westchester

I have heard these words countless times by Pets Alive staff and volunteers, “This is why we do what we do”. We save lives. Give medical attention when it’s needed. Sit with the shy ones, snuggle with the animals craving attention and provide them with love. In turn, we get to see them thrive and it’s when we see them go to a home, that’s when we say, “This is why we do what we do.”

We do all we can to better the lives of animals by all means possible.
This is who we are. This is what we do.


This is the first picture of Mitsy that I saw when I was looking on the NYCACC (New York City Animal Care & Control) list for animals that we could potentially save this past week. She looks like any other healthy tabby cat. But it was in the next picture that what I saw shocked me.


We knew we HAD to get her to Pets Alive Westchester as soon as possible! She needed medical attention IMMEDIATELY and we could provide it for her. We could help her. There was no question about it. We were going to save this girl and get her eye taken care of as soon as possible. She had been at ACC for 3 days and who knows how long prior to her arrival that she had been suffering.

It was 7:20 pm. ACC closes at 7:00 pm. An email was immediately sent to ACC to tell them that we could get her the medical care she so desperately needed. I then tried to call hoping that maybe, just maybe someone would still be there. How could anyone just allow this poor girl to suffer? By the way it looked in the picture, her eye was about to rupture if it hadn’t already.

I called them and got their answering system. Here’s what I heard:

“Press 1 if you would like to adopt an animal.
Press 2 if you would like to surrender an animal.
Press 3 if you would like to report neglect or abuse of an animal”.

I could say a few things here about what I was thinking at the time, but I think I’ll save that for another day. I shook my head and hung up the phone realizing they were all gone for the day.

poodleJohn Sibley does all of our transports from NYCACC. He had been working all week with me to help pull animals and transport them to Pets Alive West. John rushed to get Mitsy first thing in the morning and brought her to us where she received immediate medical attention. When he got to Pets Alive and we examined her, we could see that her eye had indeed ruptured at this point. Despite the discomfort she was in, she was alert and very affectionate.

Here’s what our plan is for Mitsy:
mits3We need to fight the infection in her eye. If we performed surgery immediately we would have risked her becoming septic. We also want the swelling to go down as much as possible prior to surgery. We need to be safe and look at all the factors. She is also a bit malnourished, and she should be as nutritionally sound as possible. She will be on antibiotics and eye drops to take away any pain for the next week. This will help reduce the swelling and will get rid of the infection prior to surgery. Her surgery is scheduled to be done on Thursday, 5/16 and we will be sure to update everyone on her progress on our Facebook page!

In the meantime, she is getting so much love and attention from the staff at Pets Alive West. She is an amazing girl with a great spirit about her! We have a lot of hope that she will do well in surgery, make a full recovery and be placed in a loving home. She deserves this.

A Chance at Life

We pulled 25 animals from ACC this past week. Monday through Thursday there was not a day that John wasn’t there to transport them. I went with him a couple of days since I had never been there before. I’m still very new at this shelter chimanager thing, but I do know that in the past it was fairly easy to be able to pull many animals very quickly as the ACC really needs to have as much space as they can for new intakes. I was SHOCKED at how difficult it was for us to pull any dogs. We must have requested up to 40 dogs that we wanted to save, and in four days time we were able to save just 4 dogs. They have now put in place an additional hold for animals to have time to be available for adoptions, which means they will be holding them there longer. I understand they would like to have an opportunity to adopt them out, but I’m wondering what will happen as their space fills and the animals get sicker and sicker. I think we all know the answer to that. The kill list will get larger and larger. This may not go the way that they have planned.

We were able to successfully pull 4 dogs, 10 cats, 11 kittens plus a momma cat had 4 kittens who were born at Pets Alive West yesterday.

mama4 of the kittens we took are bottle babies that are only four weeks old – one bottle baby was only a day old when we took her. It’s rare that a baby so young will live without the mother. Even feeding by a bottle, it’s just not the same as having the mother there to feed and nurture her the way a baby this young needs in order to survive, but we had to try. We immediately found a volunteer willing to take care of her. There are times when you wonder how it will all work out, and then you realize that it will, because if there is a will, there is a way. The pregnant mother cat had her kittens. What luck! We hoped that she would accept the bottle baby into her litter too. If she accepted her, we knew she’d survive for sure. She immediately accepted her into her litter of babies, and you can see it here.


ging1We were checking the urgent lists every night. On Wednesday we saw a cat named Ginger that had a leg injury with a bandage on it. The information on him said that his leg may need to be amputated. This could be a VERY costly expense. I continued to look at others but kept going back to him. I kept reading the short write up and thinking of the possible scenarios that could happen with his leg. We’d have to find an orthopedic surgeon if the leg had to be amputated. The ACC didn’t do an x-ray to see if it was broken or what the issue was, they simply wrapped it, took his picture and posted him to the internet. I decided that we couldn’t leave him like this. No one else pulled him. We needed to. Like many others, Ginger needed our help. Ginger was saved yesterday and brought to the Animal Hospital of White Plains immediately for an x-ray. The results were that he has a fractured leg, and no surgery is necessary. He also had an injury that wasn’t attended to on his paw, so at the hospital they flushed it out and treated the wound. They wrapped up his leg and he will be on light rest for up to 4 weeks. That was the best news we could have heard. We rescued this sweet 1 year old boy, got him treated and soon he will be adopted into a loving home.

That’s when you hear “This is why we do what we do.” We don’t give up. We won’t ever give up.


We could never have saved so many lives, could never have taken in animals that needed so much care this week without you. Your support is what enabled us to do this and enables us to keep doing it. You truly are the lifeline for these animals. Thank you for all you do to help support them so they can have the lives they deserve.

We want to keep doing this. We will keep doing this. We want to be able to continue to save animals with or without medical issues.

We can’t do this without you.

Please consider making a donation to the Critical Care Medical Fund today. Together we can be the difference between life and death.

Filed in Animal Rescue, NYCACC, Why we do this by John Sibley on May 10, 2013.  There are 3 Comments

3 Responses to “From Broken Spirits to Thriving Lives!”

  1. Pet Care Says:

    Thank you to everyone who does something to help neglected and abused animals!

  2. Dale Says:

    I adopted a beautiful dog from NYCACC Brooklyn last June! Jeter is thriving in our home, and I can’t imagine life without him! I hope more people become aware of what happens to the animals they bring to Animal Care & Control of NYC. God bless all of you at Pets Alive for doing what you do! I volunteer and live right around the corner from your Elmsford, NY location. Volunteering is a wonderful thing people can do to help, as well as support Pets Alive in so many different ways. Thank you so much!

  3. Jo Ann Simko Says:

    I have been trying to track down this kitty..I had pledged $5.00 toward her rescue. I will honor my pledge today. I am so sorry it took so long to find her. I am very happy to see that she has had the surgery and is doing good. I share a lot of cats and dogs and couldn’t remember which shelter she was in. I wish I could donate more. Thank you for getting this little sweetie out. I only wish they all could be saved.

    Jo Anan

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