Archives for Animal Rescue category

Sweet, Scared Licorice

About ten days ago my neighbors knocked on my door. I live near a dog park in the South Bronx, and it’s not unusual for dogs to be dumped there. A black lab puppy had been dumped in the park and was acting aggressively towards people who tried to get near him.

IMG_1102I grabbed my slip lead and my treat bag and headed over to find a very frightened young man. I knelt down and gently slipped the lead over his head. He would not take my treats for a long time; he was very suspicious of me and was especially focused on my movements and my hands. My guess is that someone’s hit him.

Slowly he warmed to me. First he allowed a few chin scratches, then some stroking. He started to show some interest in my treats. After fifteen minutes or so he rolled on his back for some scratches, then climbed into my lap and started licking my face over and over. We became fast friends.

I put him in my car and went down to Pets Alive Westchester, where Executive Director Erin Guilshan loved him just as much as I did, and he loved her.

IMG_1119Licorice is a very special puppy – less than a year old, an active and healthy young dog. We don’t believe he will do well in a kennel, so we are looking for a very special foster home for him. Someone, somewhere let him down. Someone didn’t understand that if you move slowly and get to know him, you’ll be friends for life and he will lavish you with his love. Instead of the love he needed and craves, someone treated him poorly and then abandoned him on the streets, leaving him to fend for himself. Right now he needs a place where he can decompress and where everyone is nice, sweet and kind to him and he gets careful, slow introductions to strangers. Licorice is just a frightened puppy, and my heart hurts for what’s been done to him – but I know it can be fixed. He is still a wonderful, affectionate dog and given the right environment, he will learn to trust again.

I believe in him. Can you help us help him? Please email me at – you’ll have my cell phone number; I will be on call for you 24 hours a day. I love Licorice. Please help us save him.


John Sibley
Board President and Chairman
Pets Alive

Filed in Animal Rescue by John Sibley on Apr 28, 2015.  There are 0 comments.  

Saving a Kitten in the Middle of the Night

By Audrey Lodato, Executive Director at Pets Alive

Companion animals in trouble don’t have a lot of options. This is especially true for cats. There’s animal control, if you live in a town lucky enough to have animal control for cats. Sometimes a particularly compassionate police officer will step in to help a cat that’s injured. More often what happens is that rescue groups like Pets Alive rescue these animals. We find out about the animals because a Good Samaritan calls the sanctuary, or a friend of a friend knows one of our staff members and passes the message along. Or, in the case of Briar, someone tagged me into a Facebook post about a cat in need of rescue. This all began with someone posting this:

“OK friends… This poor little guy was in my driveway dragging his two back legs… Gave him some food and water and for now he is hiding under the shed… My heart is breaking…” – along with this photo.


This was posted at about 8:00 pm Monday night, April 14, and it went on for a few hundred comments until someone tagged me at about 10:15 pm. I was home with my husband watching TV when I heard my phone ping. I picked it up and saw the post.

I didn’t really think about whether or not I was going. Of COURSE I was going. Any one of the Pets Alive staff would have gone immediately. It’s what we do. We have different titles and job descriptions but there’s only one title that matters to us. It’s “Rescuer.” That’s what we are, and that’s what we do. I went to rescue the kitten.

The kitten was under a bush when I arrived, but quickly realized that I was interested in catching her. She and scrambled back under the shed, dragging her mangled back legs behind her. I didn’t have a choice but to set a Hav-a-heart trap and wait. Many hours later, I finally caught her and headed off to the Animal Emergency Clinic.


X-rays revealed that the kitten, who I named Briar, had a fractured vertebra, and that was causing partial paralysis. She was dragging her hind legs. She needed to be seen by a surgeon, but it was 3:00 am. I took her home, popped up a crate, gave her some food and water and the softest kitty bed I have, and tucked her in for the night.

The next day, Janet, our Veterinary Liaison, took the kitten to see our medical director, Dr. Joe. He confirmed that Briar indeed has a broken back. She can move her back legs a bit so she is not completely paralyzed. She can’t support her weight but she can move around and use her legs. She’s actually pretty fast! She doesn’t seem to be having any trouble using the litter pan. She’s eating and drinking and she’s not in any pain. She also has the advantage of being very young and adaptable. Briar is only four months old.

We’re not sure what caused Briar’s injuries, although they are consistent with the type that cats often get when they crawl under car hoods and onto car engines to get warm. When the car is started, the cat then gets tangled up in the moving parts. These injuries are often fatal.

11071943_1118536778161802_4399998944152781032_nBriar also has some superficial wounds on her back paws that we are treating and is underweight, but otherwise she is doing well, especially considering all that she has gone through. We’ve determined that there may be some surgical options for her that will help her mobility. We are looking into those but this comes with a cost. We will give Briar every chance to have a full and happy life.

At Pets Alive, the word “Rescuer” really matters to us. We save lives every day, but we could not do it without your support. Please consider giving a donation to help us pay for Briar’s extensive care. If you check the small box to the right of the dollar amount, you can make your donation reoccurring, which will help us save even more companion animals like Briar.

Filed in Animal Rescue by Audrey Lodato on Apr 17, 2015.  There are 0 comments.  

From a Legacy of Survival to a Legacy of Love

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Each of the dogs that come through our doors has a story of their own to tell. Quite often we are sure their stories would make us very sad to hear. We don’t need to hear them though, we can see from their body language what some have been through. We can see it when they arrive underweight, with signs of neglect and with fear in their eyes. Once in our care, they learn that they are safe, loved and they are able to begin to heal.

As we help better the lives of the new dogs that come to stay with us, we also focus on a group of dogs we refer to as the Legacy Dogs at Pets Alive Westchester. These are the dogs who spent most, if not all of their lives at the shelter, many of whom are now senior dogs.

And you can help us help them by fostering a Legacy Dog and/or sponsoring one with a monthly donation. Read on to find out more about these dogs and how you can support them.

The Legacy Begins

Five years ago, Pets Alive Westchester took over the shelter that had been in existence for many years. The building was built at the current location in 1995 with the capacity to hold under 200 dogs. When we took over this shelter in 2010, there were 600 dogs living there.

vanillaThey were completely overrun with animals. The majority of these dogs at the time were deemed aggressive and had lived in the shelter almost their entire lives. Some were even born there. They were subjected to living a life that was devastating to their mental health and emotional well-being. Vanilla was one of those dogs. She arrived at the shelter completely emaciated at a year old when her owner was incarcerated and she spent the next 8 years of her life waiting for someone to bring her home.

Over time she had endured much and her trust in people was so damaged that she felt the need to be protective of the people she loved. The volunteers and staff were the only “family” she’d ever had. She has always loved certain people she trusted and those are the ones that helped to give her the best quality of life. The only way she could be adopted into a home was if her adopter fully understood how protective she could be. That person would need to get to know her first before bringing her home. Her chances of leaving the shelter were not looking good for her — but we never give up hope.

Like all of the Legacy Dogs, we have been Vanilla’s family. The staff and volunteers are the ones that spend time and give love to each of these dogs. Like Vanilla, some of the other Legacy Dogs have that protective spirit as well and will need time, dedication and love from a prospective adopter.

One thing we never lose at Pets Alive Westchester is HOPE. We have bared witness to some wonderful moments watching our pets find loving homes after waiting many years for that magical moment. We had one of those moments a few weeks ago when the stars aligned just right for Vanilla and she got a home!

vanilla2Joe, who is now her new dad, has been a volunteer at Pets Alive Westchester for the past couple of years. He immediately fell in love with Vanilla and the feeling was mutual. For 2 years, Joe would come just to see her, spend time with her and to give her as much love as he could. His heart ached each time he said good bye.

Eventually he brought her home on some overnights to see how it would go. After 2 years of loving this girl, Joe was able to give her the home she deserved! Vanilla had a pretty rough start but this is a new beginning to a new life for her. A dream came true for Vanilla, but it also came true for all of us at PAW on the day she went home – a day we had all hoped would happen for this wonderful girl.

There are still 35 Legacy Dogs remaining out of those original 600 that we started off with 5 years ago. For some of them we fear that we may be the only family they will ever know. We want them to have a real family in a real home.

You may be wondering how you can help them. Here’s how:

  • Share this story and others. The more you share the greater their chances are at finding a home.
  • Foster a Legacy Dog for a day, weekend, week, month or forever. Help them enjoy their senior years to the fullest.
  • Sponsor and give support for them to have all they need in their golden years. Your monthly sponsorship pays for food, veterinary care and medications.

Click the image below to check out some of our Legacy Dogs available for Foster!


 Sponsor the Legacy Dogs and Help Save More Lives


Although, part of their legacy speaks about how much they had lived through over the years and how they survived it all, we can also add to that legacy the love that they have in their lives. We provide this to each and every one of them, but we cannot do this without you. YOU are their voice. YOU are their support. YOU are making the legacy of love.


For more information on the Legacy Dogs and Pets Alive Westchester visit









Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill by Erin Guilshan on Mar 15, 2015.  There are 0 comments.  

The Tortorella Foundation Gives Grant To Help Save More Dogs

twosheds Pets Alive was very fortunate to recently be chosen to receive a grant to purchase two large sheds from The John and Christine Tortorella Family Foundation.  John and Christine Tortorella founded their family foundation in an effort to help those who protect children, animals and our environment. Supporting animals in need, specifically those who are in need of behavioral training and support is a very important part of the mission of their foundation.  The Tortorella’s see the value in exposing our dogs to new environments as part of their training and wanted to give us the opportunity to be able to better prepare dogs for forever homes.

BearWe named the sheds in honor of the Tortorella’s dog Bear, who has recently crossed the rainbow bridge. One shed has been named “Bear’s Bunkhouse” and the other “Bear’s Den.” The sheds have been outfitted to resemble rooms in a house. Each shed is heated, has electricity, a tiled floor, and is sheet rocked and painted. They feature normal furniture like couches and end tables and even have artwork on the walls. Since they have power, we are able to do things like hook up televisions, appliances and other items that dogs may not have encountered before. Essentially each shed has become a home environment that will assist our training staff in teaching our dogs the skills they will need to be adopted into loving and forever homes.


We often rescue dogs that have never been in a home before. Having the opportunity to let them get comfortable with these unfamiliar things will ensure that the dogs have the best chance possible at getting adopted and staying with their new family. It’s amazing to be able to do these things right here at the sanctuary. The buildings also serve as a quiet place for dogs to to take break from the stress of the kennel and have some time alone. Kennel life can be incredibly stressful and giving dogs the opportunity to decompress is essential for their well being.

One of our first shed residents is a lovely dog named Sherman who came to us from Westchester SPCA for some hands on work with our  adoptability team. Sherman will be working with our trainer Robin to get ready for a new home. The additional shed has provided a MUCH needed area for our volunteers to spend time with the dogs during the winter.

JohnshermanannaMany, many dogs will benefit from these buildings. We are so grateful to the The John and Christine Tortorella Family Foundation for this gift. We are so blessed to be on the receiving end of this donation, which will change the lives of dogs for many years to come. We invite you to thank them for their support, their generosity and their contribution to life saving rescue.

Filed in Animal Rescue by Audrey Lodato on Jan 31, 2015.  There are 0 comments.  

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

            If you’re reading this, then you care about animals and you care about saving them. You already understand what it means to be an advocate. So I’m going to get straight to the point.

We need your help. We’ve been slammed from every side in the last few months with building repairs, medical bills and the mounting costs associated with running a sanctuary. The past year has brought a ton of change and we are scrambling to get our feet underneath us.  We’re getting a little worried.Dicepic

We’ve never stopped saving lives. It’s always been our priority. But we need a steady stream of income to keep us on our feet. So we are asking you for a favor. Donate one hour ‘s worth of your pay to Pets Alive each month in the form of a monthly sponsorship .

Monthly sponsorships allow us to breathe a little.  To know that there will be money coming in. To say yes when we might otherwise have to say no. For just a few dollars a month you can make a significant impact to the animals in your own community.  And it DOES make a huge impact. Every time I see a new sponsorship I cheer inside. I think about how that donation brings us one more step closer to being able to achieve a no kill community.  I think about how we can pull that kitten, save that horse. Get that dog out of a deplorable situation.

When we say we need you, we don’t mean that in the same sense that the bigger rescues on TV say they need you. There are no expensive ad campaigns to pay for or multi million dollar payrolls here at Pets Alive. We need you to put food in the mouths of the animals we rescue and to keep the doors open.

10488081_1038937702788377_1242868735467348935_nFor just a few dollars a month you can make a significant impact to the animals in your own community. We will always spend your money wisely and you can come here any time to see where it goes. I will personally show you around.

A sanctuary is built of brick and mortar, and a sanctuary is built of love. They are two very different things, and both are necessary for us to be successful at saving lives. When you sign up for a monthly sponsorship, you are giving both of these things. You become the hands that hold the power to save lives. You are the hammer and the nail that holds the roof over the heads of those who have nowhere else to go. The feet that take the dog outside when he has never seen the sun before. You are the one kneeling on the floor that calms down a trembling kitten. You are those same tears we cry when we have to say goodbye. You become one of us. A rescuer.

You can sign up for a monthly sponsorship below. Just click the link and check “Make this Recurring (Monthly).” You choose the amount. You make the difference. You help us take a step back from worrying about the bills and focus on how many more animals we can save. Thank you for always being there for us, for them, thank you!

Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill by Audrey Lodato on Jan 24, 2015.  There are 0 comments.  

Know Where Your Money Goes

This week, we had to say goodbye to one of our long time canine residents, Nori.

10929080_1064719200210227_6236007269875716523_nWe lost him to cancer. He was an awesome dog that relied on Pets Alive to be his home. He wasn’t an easily adoptable dog, because he had some issues with aggression. Although the team here did their best to find Nori a home, the reality is that Nori lived almost his entire life at Pets Alive and Pets Alive Westchester as a sanctuary animal.  That’s not to say that his life was sad. He got to experience love and joy just like every pet. He had toys and fun and love. He had his own humans too – us. We became his family. Like any family, we loved Nori and when it was time to say goodbye to him, we wanted him to be comfortable. We opted for local veterinarian Josh Furman to come and do a home euthanasia here at the sanctuary. Nori passed away surrounded by his family – us – and in the comfort of a room he knew well, with his toys, and his blanket.  We cried and talked about Nori and celebrated his life together like any family would do.

10929255_1064719170210230_3917567849437571974_nBeing present at euthanasia is not something that anyone ever looks forward to, and it’s not fun to talk about either.  Being present at a euthanasia is just what we do because it’s what you would do when ANYONE you love is passing.  You are there for them until the end. You support them and love them and send them on their way KNOWING that you did everything you could and that you would have done anything. WE would have done ANYTHING for Nori.

I’m telling you about Nori today and his death because I want to tell you about something else, too. In order for you to fully understand it, I want you to just close your eyes and think for a minute about how we said goodbye to Nori.  All of us in that room together, crying, and loving him. I want you to understand how much it takes out of us for us to say goodbye to ONE animal here at our sanctuary. I want you to think about how hard it was for YOU to read this story.

And now lets talk about PETA. Yup- People for the Ehtical Treatment of Animals.  I know, right? Didn’t expect that? Just stay with me. I recently came across PETA’s 2013 euthanasia numbers. In 2013, PETA took in 2175 dogs and cats at their facility in Virginia…and they euthanized 1792 of them. Yes. That’s right. They took in 2175 dogs and cats and they killed 1792 of them. Yes, I’m serious. They killed 82% of the dogs and cats they took in. Ok I’ll pause and let you think about that for a moment. Don’t believe it?  Here’s the REPORT

PETA kills animals because they say that euthanasia is the best option when an animal is “terminally ill” or “unadoptable.”  You can decide for yourself what you think, but to me, any shelter that has an 82% euthanasia rate isn’t trying very hard to do anything but be a slaughterhouse. There is literally NO shelter where 82% of the intakes are unadoptable. We’ve proved this with our adoption numbers over and over again. We PRIDE ourselves on placing hard to adopt animals. It’s what we DO. We know how because we LEARNED. We TRY.

I would go so far as to say that any shelter that kills 82% of their intakes is not treating animals ETHICALLY.


Those 2013 numbers really resonated with me. I want to tell you why.

At our combined facilities in 2013, we took in 1158 dogs, 523 cats, 22 rabbits and 7 farm animals. And we adopted out 1167 dogs, 531 cats, 21 rabbits and 8 farm animals. No really. We ADOPTED OUT 99% of the animals we took in. You can see our 2013 Annual Report. We did lose some to terminal illness, but that can happen when you are trying to save the animals that need you the most. Those that are in the worst situations. Those that have no one else.

What does PETA claim? To be a voice for the voiceless?  To advocate? To PROTECT animals? To step in when others will not?

PETA LIES. They have been lying, they will continue to lie, and if you ask them about it they will lie to your face.  They are not ETHICAL. They are not ADVOCATES. They are not RESCUERS. They are MURDERERS.

sleepy kitten And people are paying them to kill animals. People that they have deceived with their expensive ad campaigns that are designed to make you believe that they step in when no one else does.

We could never do that here at Pets Alive. Our hearts would be destroyed.  We go home from each and every euthanasia in mourning. Our hearts break every time we have to say good bye. And they should. If they didn’t we wouldn’t deserve to do this work.  That is the future of animal rescue, and the future of no kill. It’s the future we believe in.

On their 990 in 2013, PETA claimed 34 MILLION dollars in income. Yup-not a typo  34 MILLION DOLLARS see that HERE on Guidestar (you can sign up for a free account).  They got paid nearly $19,000 for every animal they killed. Their payroll is well over 7 MILLION and they spend on average nearly half a million annually on fundraising. Talk about an incredible return on investment. At Pets Alive we struggle for every penny we raise. We constantly have to make really tough decisions on staffing, fundraising, repairs and improvements to our facilities, benefits for our devoted employees. Why? Because we have to save more animals. We have to be their safety net. We have to utilize every resource we have to ensure that we can give them all of the medical, emotional, and behavioral rehabilitation they need. Our employees don’t drive fancy cars or fly around the country spewing status quo rhetoric to the masses of how its better for an animal to be dead then to find them appropriate and loving homes.

smiling pittyOur employees show up to work in an ice storm to make sure their animals are cleaned, fed, medicated and loved every single day. Our employees come in on their days off, volunteer their time in other departments, join groups or committees, they give their time, their hearts, their pride to the animals in our care. They bring their children to help socialize and play with the animals (and yes we do use them to kid test!!) Our employees are the heros in animal rescue yet each one of them would be mortified to see their names in lights.

Just think about what Pets Alive could do with 34 Million dollars. How many animals could we save? How much more do we care? How much harder would we work to achieve a no kill nation? Which group would make the bigger impact? I’m not going to lie- it’s been a tough year at Pets Alive. Even with all of the incredible life saving rescues and happy forever homes we are struggling to continue to pay the bills that are always mounting. We spend about $60,000 a month in animal care and operating expenses. While we continue to work on reducing our budgets there are some things we refuse to put limits on- like veterinary care for our animals. That will never happen here. It just can’t. We are one of the few true NO KILL rescue and sanctuary in the country. Our animals are our family and we promise each one of them to do WHATEVER it takes to give them a second chance. We know you believe in us. We know that you agree. We need you now more than ever.gray kitty

When you look at such a major national organization like PETA and compare them to Pets Alive take a moment and think to yourself- who is more ethical? Who believes that life is precious and that it is our duty to be the voice for the voiceless. To be their protector, their guardians, their friends, their family.

Know where your money goes.

Donate to Pets Alive and YOU WILL SAVE animals.

Filed in Animal Rescue, Call to Action, No-kill by Audrey Lodato on Jan 21, 2015.  There are 2 comments.  

Lara, Cleo and June Need Your Help to Get Homes!

Meet Lara, June and Cleo. They’re three dogs looking for what so many dogs are looking. A home. All three are sweet tempered, loving, and get along great with other dogs and cats too. They love to play and they don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. So why are they still here? Well, they need a little work, and we need your help.

Lara, Cleo, June when rescued off the beachThese dogs were sent here from a rescue group in Puerto Rico. They reached out to us after reading one of our blog posts, hoping to make some connections to the states. Although Pets Alive no longer has a facility on the island, the plight of the dogs of Puerto Rico is still close to our hearts. We were eager to help this group with their first transport to the states.

According to the rescue group, the seven dogs were all raised in foster homes. They were supposed to be well socialized, walk great on leashes, and be very easy placements. Four of them were, and we found new homes for them within two weeks. The other three dogs were a different story. They cowered in fear in the back of their crates, shaking. They would not come out at all for the first two weeks. They weren’t housebroken, and they were terrified of a leash. Any attempt to put a leash on them resulted in the dogs rolling around in fear, desperate to get away.

10922627_952825601413068_939084073722453093_nWe immediately contacted the rescue that sent the dogs to us to gather more information. It turns out that while the dogs were indeed in foster homes they had basically lived in a pen in the back yard. The rescue group meant well, but it turns out the dogs were basically feral. Now that the dogs were in our care there wasn’t much we could do about their temperament’s but work with them. We would do what we always do here at Pets Alive and focus on giving them everything that they need to be successful in getting a new home.

We had a staff meeting and developed a training plan for the dogs. Afraid that the dogs would be too fearful in the kennel to make any progress, we outfitted our quarantine room for their home. Volunteers took shifts sitting with the dogs, talking to them, feeding them hot dogs by hand, and teaching them that it is OK to be pet. After two months of what amounts to round the clock socialization and interaction they’ve come a long way. They still don’t come out of their crate for new people, but they will come out and eat from the hand of someone they know. They will play when we aren’t in visiting with them or if a trusted person sits for a long time with them.  We were fortunate enough to find an experienced foster home for Cleo, who was the most fearful. She’s made great progress in housebreaking and is now able to walk on a leash, too. The problem with working with these dogs in a quarantine room is that it doesn’t get them ready to live in a real home.

10915172_777018299000210_3106907051929260161_nSo what we’re asking is for some help. We really need to find either foster or forever homes for all three of these dogs. Ideally, we’d like to find three separate homes for them because they will progress more quickly without each other to fall back on. We’d love for the homes to have a dog that’s good with other dogs and a fenced in yard would be ideal.  It would be perfect if we could place them with someone who works from home so that someone is around all the time with them. Neither of those things is absolutely necessary. The things that are necessary: You or your family must be patient, kind, and understanding. We will provide you with what you need to get started, as well as all the time you need with our staff trainer. You provide the love. If you are interested in fostering these dogs, please email us at and we will  be in touch as soon as possible. Thanks for participating in the rescue of these girls. They deserve every possible chance for success.

Fostering saves lives! With your help we can remain committed to these sweet girls and still continue to pull more like them to safety.


Filed in Animal Rescue by Audrey Lodato on Jan 09, 2015.  There are 2 comments.  

Pets Alive Westchester – A Year to Remember

By Erin Guilshan, Executive Director
Pets Alive Westchester


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 comments.  

Help Bennett Bounce Back

By Audrey Lodato, Executive Director

BennettACCThis is cat A1022805. We call him Bennett. He was found in a box at a firehouse in Manhattan and brought to New York City Animal Care and Control.  He’s safe with Pets Alive now, just so you know. I’m telling you this because some of what follows is not so nice, and so I want to assure you ahead of time that it will work out fine.

The NYCACC publishes a list every night of all of the animals scheduled for euthanasia in the morning. It’s a horrible part of our jobs to look at this list but look at it we do, because if you don’t look, you can’t save them.  The rescue group Urgent publicly shares the lists.  You can see the cat one HERE and the dog one HERE – but remember that the people from Urgent are the good guys who are doing what they can to help the animals in NYC shelters. Be nice to them, because they aren’t the ones killing the animals.  They are the ones working their tails off to get them safe.

Bennett showed up on the list last week and Sue, who works in our adoptions and intakes department, sent me a text with a link. “Look at this poor cat.” It said. And here was the photo of Bennett that came with it.  Now, here’s a secret about me. I CAN NOT STAND it when an animal is skinny.  I freak out and have an overwhelming urge to immediately feed them ten cans of food. It’s my kryptonite, and now you know. So when I saw in the description that Bennett weighed FOUR POUNDS, I immediately told Sue to pull him so that I could get him into foster at my house as soon as possible. Without hesitation Sue put in a pull request for Bennett and we waited for him to arrive.

Bennett1When we pull a sick animal, we spend some time feeling REALLY anxious. You never quite know what will happen when the animal shows up.  The big fear is that they will be much sicker than what the information provided let on, and that we may not be able to get them well. There is literally no worse feeling in the world than an animal finally getting to safety and then not making it because they were just too far-gone. Sometimes we get lucky and they look better than we anticipated. Bennett did not.

Bennett arrived via New Hope transport on Friday afternoon. I took the carrier into Janet’s office, and opened it. Inside was the most pathetic little cat I have ever seen – and that’s saying something. This poor guy was covered in his own feces. It was absolutely caked on. He was light as a feather. Dehydrated.  Stumbling and having a hard time staying upright. And he also was purring. He poked his tiny head up and pushed it into my hand to be pet.

bennett3It took Sam, one of our volunteers, and I the better part of an hour to wash the feces off Bennett. He stood there like a champ the entire time, just letting us bathe him.  I can imagine it must have felt nice. When we got him as clean as we possibly could, we wrapped him in towels, held him until he was dry, and then I took him home.  He was so matted we couldn’t even brush him. We just cut off the largest ones and planned on him being groomed in the very near future.

With a vet appointment scheduled for the next morning, Bennett spent night one of his rescue bundled in a fleece blanket, on a heating bad, on a cat bed, in a crate in my spare bedroom. He slept like a rock.

The next morning I took him to Middlehope Veterinary Hospital in Newburgh, where they ran a myriad of tests. Bennett got IV fluids, a sedation and shave to remove all his matted and filthy fur, and a ton of medication to stop the diarrhea. He stayed hospitalized for two days while our vets tried to figure out what was causing the loose stool. ALL of Bennett’s testing came back negative or normal. Whatever happened to him, we think Bennett just didn’t have enough to eat.  Bennett’s upset stomach seems to be caused by not eating for a LONG time, and then being free fed at NYCACC.

Bennett is now resting comfortably in his crate in my spare room. With no fur, he looks like an odd cross between a cat and a rat. It’s not the most attractive haircut, but it will grow out. You can see every bone in his painfully thin frame, but he’s already gained a half a pound.

Bennet2Bennett has a long, long road ahead of him, and we hope that he makes it through. Being as severely malnourished as he is, it will be touch and go for a while, and we’ll all be praying that he gets better. There are some things we DO know about what’s next. Bennett won’t die covered in his own feces, alone, with no one to love him. Bennett won’t need to be afraid any longer. Bennett won’t be uncomfortable.  Bennett won’t be hungry.  Bennett won’t be cold. Bennett won’t be sad. Bennett will have all the love he wants, and then some.

When you support us financially, you make all of these things possible for EVERY animal we save. YOU ensure that NO ANIMAL we rescue is frightened, hungry, cold, sad or alone. We may have the hands that do the work, but we do it on behalf of all of our supporters. The love Bennett has now doesn’t just come from me. The love that Bennett has comes from you, too. YOU make it possible for us to save lives. So thank you. For Bennett. For all of them.

We firmly believe that there will come a day when every animal like Bennett is safe.

Thank you for helping us get one step closer each and every day to completing our mission.

If you’d like to sign up for a small monthly sponsorship and help save animals  every day, you can do that HERE.

We truly appreciate your support and Bennett will too! We will post updates on his progress!

Filed in Animal Rescue, NYCACC by Audrey Lodato on Dec 26, 2014.  There are 2 comments.  

Why someone ought to adopt MacKenzie

By Audrey Lodato, Executive Director

 10858385_1038858366129644_3890238734641233742_n-1Meet MacKenzie. She’s 10, and she’s living in my office. She’s actually next to me right now. Her tiny bed is pulled as close to my feet as I can possibly get it, and she’s asleep. She’s even snoring a little. When I started here two months ago, MacKenzie was the dog that barked and growled at me when I opened the door to the grooming room, where she was living. I learned some things about her right off the bat from the staff. I knew that she was grouchy. That she bit. That she hated it if people took the leash off her. Or put it on her. Or touched her. Or tried to pick her up. I knew that she was difficult.  That she’d been adopted and returned a few times. That no one could seem to find her a home. That she got her two walks a day, but that it was a big challenge to even get her outside some days.

So, I’m the Executive Director. And I’m supposed to problem solve. And MacKenzie was, to put it lightly, a problem. A difficult dog is a tough thing. The thing about them is they take up space. A dog has to live someplace, and when a dog can’t get adopted the place they live is the place where another adoptable dog could live while waiting for a new home. And then another. And then another.  You get the idea. So a difficult to adopt dog means that some other dogs aren’t getting saved because we don’t have a place to put them. Now, we don’t have a million dollars. (Do you? You can donate it HERE)  We don’t have the option to build a big huge kennel to house all the difficult dogs we encounter – and we don’t want dogs living in kennels for the rest of their lives anyway. It’s stressful for them. The option we have is to place these dogs in an appropriate home, and free up the space. So that was my problem.

Here’s a quite disagreeable little 10 year old shih tzu that I couldn’t even touch, and I need to find her a home where she would be loved for the rest of her life. Cute, right?

10348357_1038938332788314_1764372462503346100_nI figured at first I had to get to know her a little.  So on a Sunday when it was quiet, I lured her out of her kennel and into my office with some treats, and I shut the door. There’s a big crate in my office that’s set up all the time, and MacKenzie ran into the crate, all the way to the back, and growled and barked at me for two HOURS before she settled down. When she quieted down I put some kibble in there for her. And the first thing I learned was that MacKenzie REALLY likes treats. No matter how many kibbles I gave her, she would always want more. So OK, check. MacKenzie likes to eat. She growls if you come near her food, though. So, check. Resource guarding.

A few hours later she came out of her crate, and so I tried to put a leash on her. And she tried to bite me. So I waited until she calmed down, and I gave her some more kibble, and then I tried again…and I got the leash on her. Barely, but I did it.  And guess what? She PULLED me to the door. We have a lovely dog trail here at Pets Alive, and so I took Mackenzie for a good long walk. She LOVED it. She was SO happy! She even ran part of the way. Her tail was wagging, she was sniffing around, jumping, bouncing like a little puppy. So, check, MacKenzie likes going outside for walks.

I managed to take her out twice more that day and go for REALLY long walks. She was noticeably calmer, but she still tried to bite me when I took the leash off her.  Then after multiple trips outside Mackenzie seemed to care less and less about the leash. What I learned was that she just wants to be outside a lot. If she gets her outside time, she doesn’t care so much about the leash being taken off. She also figured out pretty quickly that if I put the leash on her, we were going outside for a long time and its going to be fun. So, once she figures out that the leash + you = fun, it’s fine.

The next day, Monday, our volunteer coordinator Andrea came in. She shares an office with me. She was pretty surprised to see MacKenzie in there, but she was a good sport about it after I assured her we had a lot of treats on hand. She also told me where MacKenzie came from.

10612952_1040146346000846_3240170523046241248_n-1MacKenzie was found in a foundation of a house about a year ago in the middle of winter. The couple who was building the house came to check on the property and found her crouched in a corner. She’d been out there for a long, long time. She was very, very skinny, cold, weak, sick and covered in mats. The couple had a hard time getting her into the box they used to bring her in. She was barking and biting…but can you blame her? It was February. She’d been out there ALL WINTER. It must have been hell for her. So was she grouchy? Yeah. You would be too. So, check. This dog had a hard, crappy life before she came to Pets Alive.

I noticed that she seemed to like it when Yogi, a little grey shih tzu, was walked through the office. She ran to the baby gate to see where he went. I figured maybe she might like to have a friend. Robin and I had a play date in the play yard, and mostly they ignored each other  but they did play for a few minutes. So, check. MacKenzie likes other dogs. Or at least THIS other dog.  I think she’d probably be OK with a dog friend as long as her new owner was careful.

So we’ve been going on like that for a few weeks now.  Things she likes: Going in the car, bagels, sleeping in a blanket, toys that squeak, running up and down the driveway, playing with Yogi, music, sticks.  Getting pet. Eating kibble from my hand. Belly rubs – when she is in the mood. Attending morning meeting. Haircuts.

Things she doesn’t like:  Anyone (or any dog) near anything that belongs to her, ever. And she HATES when someone pets her and she is not expecting it. But that’s it, really. 10628616_1040146459334168_5253874303516867367_n

What are the things that are great about MacKenzie? Well, for starters she is ADORABLE. I mean, look at those bulgy little eyes and crooked teeth. Who could possibly resist that? Secondly she loves to go outside and is AWESOME on a leash. If you love to walk, she’d love to walk with you.  She also likes to be pet, and I think she even has the potential to turn into a real snuggler – someday. She loves to go in the car and she is very, very brave. This morning she even barked at one of our horses, and if it had been up to her I think she would have ran right up and checked him out. She’s smart and funny and quiet, too.

MacKenzie needs a home with no children and preferably experienced dog owners. She is great about being crated so if you had children visiting, she could be crated without trouble. She needs people who are active and willing to take her out for long walks a couple times a day. She needs people who can respect the fact that she has a really, really bad resource guarding problem and that it needs some work.  Luckily, we have a trainer that can teach you how to work through it. She needs some people that will be PATIENT and UNDERSTANDING. She needs someone who will love her unconditionally and understand that she will love you too, even though she has a funny way of showing it sometimes.

She’s not perfect, but who is? This is a dog who deserves to have someone love her as much as the world has mistreated her. She deserves a family. Her own bed to sleep in. All the cuddles she wants…when she wants them. If that’s you, you can apply to adopt MacKenzie HERE. I’ll be happy to introduce you. I’ll even talk to you on the phone every time she acts up. We’ll help you through it if it’s rough, because that’s our commitment to MacKenzie.

10868294_1040157972666350_4765256168046103787_nThe writer Alana Massey says it better than I ever could, so I’m going to leave you with this quote from her.

“I have come to realize that success in rescue animal companionship is not measured by how much they end up loving you but by the simple fact that you stood by them when others would or could not. That you recognized that they were independent beings with heartbreaking histories over which you might have no control to alter for the better. That you loved them when they couldn’t muster the capacity or the inclination to reciprocate. And that by being present for them, you made good on the promise of unconditional care and love.”

Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill by Audrey Lodato on Dec 21, 2014.  There are 0 comments.