Archives for No-kill category

Pets Alive Seeks Justice for Abused Horses

This is a story about how the legal system failed. This isn’t fiction. This isn’t something that happened somewhere you have never heard of, in some place far away. This happened here, in our back yard. This happened at Pets Alive.  It’s not about someone who made a mistake, or about people who didn’t know better. It’s about willful maliciousness. It’s about someone who was knowingly cruel. It’s about someone who starved animals intentionally. Someone who let horses be crippled and rabbits freeze to death and chickens live with missing limbs. It’s about how the laws that were supposed to protect these animals failed, and about why. It’s about corruption and it’s about money It is also about how whom you know influences what crimes you are capable of getting away with.  This story is about our community.

In early December, 2014, Heather Hallack and Gene Hecht from the Hudson Valley SPCA contacted Pets Alive. They were seeking placement for five horses and a pony about to be seized from Johanna Kloer of Blooming Grove. We knew about Johanna. Pets Alive Farm Manager, Cindy O’Brien, had been to her property before, in 2014 when she was contacted by a Good Samaritan who was attempting to help out some of the animals under Johanna’s care. This Good Samaritan had multiple concerns about the treatment of the animals on the grounds and was seeking help specifically for a pig whose hooves were so overgrown that she could no longer stand. Cindy spoke to Johanna about surrendering the pig to our sanctuary, and when Johanna told Cindy that there was no better place for the pig than under her care and kicked Cindy off of the property, there wasn’t much we could do. We did what we could. The pig disappeared. We can only assume what happened to her. Nothing happened to Johanna. This pattern has repeated itself for many years. People file complaints. Write letters. Make phone calls. Get frustrated. Collect evidence. Take photos. Time and time again it was been proven that the conditions on Johanna’s property were and are horrendous. And nothing would happen to Johanna Kloer. She has gotten away with it over and over again.


002And then finally Cindy got the call out of the blue in December that someone was finally paying attention to all of the allegations that had been brought against Johanna for years, and she was being brought up on cruelty charges. Her animals would be seized. They would be safe. Could we help with placement? Of course we could.  Plans were made for the horses and pony to arrive within days. Cindy, along with  Andrew, our amazing part-time barn worker, threw themselves into their work to get ready for the horses to arrive.  Everyone on the team pitched in. Blankets were bought, hay and feed ordered, vet appointments made. Stalls and barns made ready. Fences reinforced. Meetings held, plans made. Optimism. Faith that a new life would be had for these animals. Pride that we could be a part of it.


When the horses arrived, our hearts broke. One horse, only ten years  old, could barely walk. Another had teeth so rotten he could not eat. Hipbones were visible. Their coats were dull and matted. Their spirits were broken and their eyes were dark. These horses had not known joy in a long, long time. Cindy and Andrew, with help from the rest of the Pets Alive team set about making the horses well. And they got better. They gained weight – over 100 pounds each. They pranced around in the pastures. They knew gentleness and love. They received immediate and constant medical care.  They knew a life without pain for the first time in a long time. They were safe.025

While the horses were busy recovering, the trial began to take shape.  Assistant District Attorney Theresa Cayton was assigned to the case, and that should have been our first indication that Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler wasn’t taking this trial seriously.  Hoovler, who touted “Zero tolerance to animal cruelty in Orange County” as part of his campaign platform, assigned Theresa Cayton to the case. Cayton had never handled an animal cruelty case.

One of the first things that happened was that all but 8 of the counts of cruelty Miss Kloer had been charged with were dropped, with the DA’s office pursuing only the counts against the horses. This was despite overwhelming evidence of cruelty to the rabbits and chickens on the property. This evidence included rabbits living in hutches with no shelter of blockage from the wind. These hutches were filled inches deep with urine and feces, and that was covered with snow. Several of the rabbits were found alive, frozen to the wire bottoms of the cages. Chickens were discovered to have resorted to cannibalism, having been starved for so long that they were eating each other alive. None of this information was presented in court because in New York State, chickens and rabbits don’t have many rights.

006 Our farm manager Cindy was called to testify at the trial and tried her best to assist the ADA, who knew next to nothing about horses. One of the key witnesses in the case was our farrier, who saw the horses on the day of their arrival. He likely would not have been called to testify at all had Cindy not suggested him.

Despite the evidence that was NOT presented in court, Judge Stephen Smith still found the evidence brought against Kloer serious enough to convict her of FOUR counts of cruelty and neglect. Even though this isn’t nearly sufficient, since Miss Kloer is clearly a monster who cares nothing for animals, it was better than nothing and it should have, at the very least, been enough to prevent her from reclaiming the very animals she had neglected, tortured and starved, especially since all of the facilities holding the animals (including ours) had offered to provide safe permanent homes.

Except it wasn’t.

In an unprecedented decision, Judge Stephen Smith decided to return the animals to Miss Kloer with “special circumstances.”

Yes. You heard me right. Judge Smith gave the animals BACK to the woman who starved, neglected and abused them. He imposed four unbelievably lenient and ridiculously useless “special circumstances” on Miss Kloer. These “circumstances” are that Miss Kloer is subject to just four unannounced visits from humane law officers, and that she must record medical care the horses receive for a period of one year. That’s it. Four visits by Humane Law over 365 days.


So it was that on March 8, 2015, David Hoovler’s offices called and let us know that by law, we must allow Miss Kloer onto our property without incident to reclaim her horses. We had no choice.  Judge Smith ordered they be returned immediately EVEN THOUGH MISS KLOER WAS NOT YET SENTENCED.

Our staff stood helplessly by while this monster entered our barn and loaded her horses into a trailer. Solingen was still recovering from lice, which we told Miss Kloer when she arrived.  She shoved her into the trailer alongside the other 4 horses and pony – likely giving ALL of them lice. A trailer that was meant for 5 horses. She pulled off the blankets we had purchased for the horses and threw them aside with no regard to the freezing temperatures, despite the fact that we offered them to her. Apparently her horses don’t need to be warm. She was cruel in even the simplest of tasks.

We were outraged. We were heartbroken. We were ANGRY.  Our options are limited as a holding facility in this case. Since we are not the organization bringing the lawsuit forward, we cannot file an appeal. We cannot ask for a mistrial. What we CAN do is let our community know that this happened. Orange County Humane Law is doing a good job of pursuing justice on their own. We can’t discuss all that is happening, but please know that on their end, they are doing everything they can to make this right. So are we.

Judge Stephen Smith is an elected official. So is District Attorney David Hoovler. Please help us tell them both that this is NOT JUSTICE.  Tell them that we, citizens of Orange County, want Johanna Kloer in jail. We want the horses returned to us. We want JUSTICE.

Let them know that we want officials who TRULY believe in zero tolerance to animal cruelty in our county.

We’ve set up a few simple ways that you can help bring justice to these horses:

1.  Send a FREE photo postcard with a photo of you and your pet on the front to Judge Smith using this simple app from Postcard.

Take a photo of you and your pet, and write a message explaining why you want Johanna Kloer put in jail for animal abuse. We will then use your photo and message to create physical postcards, delivered directly to Judge Smith at the Blooming Grove Town Hall. Your postcard will help Judge Smith to realize the gravity of this situation, and will help return these horses to safer care and conditions. Click HERE to send a postcard.


2.  Sign our online petition to Judge Stephen Smith and let him know that you want Johanna Kloer to go to jail, and never be allowed to have animals again.

3.  And finally, join us at Johanna Kloer’s sentencing hearing on May 7 at the Blooming Grove Courthouse. As soon as we have more information on that, we will post it on our Facebook page. You can like us HERE.

Filed in Call to Action, Legislation, No-kill by Audrey Lodato on Mar 31, 2015.  There are 9 comments.  

From a Legacy of Survival to a Legacy of Love

rosie - Copy

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.  

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.  

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.  

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.  

Rescuing Dice

This is a story about Dice, a cat who had the bad luck to break his leg in Brooklyn. It’s the story of how we saved his life. It’s also a story about believing in the no kill movement, and about how Pets Alive saves the lives of animals every day.

There’s a group called Urgent that works to save lives of thousands of animals stuck in New York City’s Animal Care and Control. They are volunteer run and work tirelessly at all hours of the night to help dogs and cats in danger of being killed. They are kind people with big hearts who truly believe that No Kill is inevitable, like we do here at Pets Alive. Urgent works with the New Hope team at the NYCACC facilities. The New Hope Department at NYCACC works with various rescues to save animals that are slated to be killed. Collaboration saves lives.

What Urgent does is compile the profile information of all of the animals that are slated to be killed, and publish them every night on social media. They call this the “Urgent List.”  Good samaritans all over the country then network to help the animals on the list by sharing them, contacting rescues who might be interested in saving them, and helping people through the rescue process.

Dice’s profile the night he was on the list looked like this:

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Now, as you can imagine, working at Pets Alive I encounter hundreds of pictures daily of animals in need of rescue. Although every one is heart breaking, some tend to resonate with you more than others. I don’t know what it was about Dice. Maybe it was the way that he held his broken leg up in the photo. I knew his injuries would be expensive to treat, but I could not stop thinking how scared he must be, all alone and in pain. I checked his intake date again- November 13th- I checked my calendar November 16th.  This poor boy had been sitting with a broken leg for 3 days already.

I asked Sue, Adoptions and Intakes Team, to contact New Hope and let them know Pets Alive wanted to pull this cat immediately. Three very anxious days went by before we finally received a response on November 19th. We were terrified they had already killed him. We contacted them multiple times throughout those three days- begging for a response or an update on his status- FINALLY- we received a response that he was still in their facility and that we were confirmed to pull him.10351967_1021754597840021_6365816307284172016_n

Dice arrived to Pets Alive on November 21, after spending a total of 8 days with animal care and control. Although he had a splint, he had not had any medication for the pain. He was immediately rushed to the veterinarians office and received a full work up.

X-rays revealed that his front leg was broken in two places. Since he had been so long without proper medical care, his bones were beginning to set incorrectly. He would need a new cast every week or two until his leg healed, with multiple follow up x-rays to monitor his progress.

We cannot even imagine the stress Dice has encountered since that fateful day he was brought to CACC. Knowing he sat in a cage in pain and fearful of his surroundings. Then he was placed in a cardboard box and took the hour and a half car ride to Pets Alive only to be immediately rushed to the vet’s to diagnose, set and cast his injuries. But after spending even just a few moments with Dice you wouldn’t know how much he had been through. He was so happy to be in comforting arms. He loved the attention (and probably the pain medication too!).


Unfortunately all of the trauma of the entire ordeal may have caught up to Dice.  He has not been sleeping well. He trembles when he is frightened.  I’ve seen him forcing his little eyes open to stay awake, he seems to be afraid to go to sleep- like all of this warmth, love and comfort will somehow disappear and he will be back in that cage waiting to die. We knew the best place for Dice was in a foster home where he could get appropriate peace and quiet,  so I took him home to my house. There he will stay until he is well enough to be adopted. Dice enjoyed a well-deserved sleep last night and some cuddle time on the couch.

10806278_1022961837719297_7523853671359728601_nBecause of the extent of Dice’s injuries he will need multiple follow up x-rays followed by re-casting. We know his care will be very expensive and we need some help. We thank you all so much for your support.

When Pets Alive, and other rescues, partner with groups like Urgent and New Hope we all work towards the common goal of saving the lives of animals in shelters and giving them the chance they deserve to heal from their injuries, illnesses or behavioral needs. We will continue to support the NYCACC when they choose LIFE over DEATH. We will continue to partner with New Hope, Urgent and all of the groups who work tirelessly to network those who are in danger of being placed on the next nightly kill list. Your support helps us to help them. Your support will help us reach the goal of a No Kill New York. Thank you for all you do and thank you for helping us save Dice and the thousands of others that still need us!


Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill, NYCACC by Audrey Lodato on Nov 25, 2014.  There are 0 comments.  

What’s happening now at the Port Jervis Humane Society?

photo 2-1Many people have been wondering what is happening now at the Port Jervis (Deepark) Humane Society.
You’ll remember that we did a series of blogs a few months ago about some really horrid conditions there, and the people that were running it.

In the months that followed, there have been some really fantastic changes to be noted at the Port Jervis Deerpark Humane Society.

The first positive thing to come of the whole mess was that the previous director, Bill is gone. Retired, forced out, left, quit – many different versions of what happened but it doesn’t matter. Bill is no longer there. He was the person responsible for the management and care of the animals there for the past 35+ years…and the person I would hold mostly responsible for the way things were.

My own experiences with trying to stop him from killing a dog that pets Alive could save was documented in a blog I wrote a number of years ago.

The fact is that if you don’t support no kill and don’t support NOT killing animals in your shelter then things can never really change.

When we first started our diatribe against the PJHS and all the horrors there, they had just recently hired a new shelter manager, Katrina who was working with Bill. Katrina, Bill….was all the same to us. The pictures and videos stood for themselves.

But once Bill was out, something beautiful happened.
Katrina, and the board that was left, decided to change things.

It wasn’t an overnight change…but they were committed to it.

One of the first things they did was reach out to us and arrange a meeting.
And we talked for a couple of hours.
Katrina, myself, some of the board.
And they seem to have been pretty unhappy with things there too.
They asked for a cease fire and a chance to make things better.

I know a snow job when I see one, and most of this meeting wasn’t a snow job.
We opened up a dialogue and started talking a LOT about many things.

Last week I went down to their facility to check things out for myself. We had heard from some volunteers that things had changed dramatically for the better and I wanted to write this blog if it were so. I reached out to Katrina and she took a lot of time out of her day to show me around and discuss the changes there and what her plans were to continue improving conditions.

photo 1First thing I noticed that all the animals had clean food and clean water. (Yeah, really – that wasn’t always so!).

Cat litterboxes and cages were clean. Cats were mostly one to a cage and not over crowded or on the floor in crates. They all had something to lie on – a towel, piece of carpet…something. Cleaning protocols and rules were in place. Signs and cage cards and notes were up and visible.

All the SICK cats were NO LONGER with the healthy cats in one room. All the sicks cats were in a separate room in the back medical ward. It also looked like they were all getting medical attention for their illnesses. Staff had a good grasp on what was wrong with each, and what medications or care they were receiving.

There is still no cat room where cats can wander free and have a place to socialize with each other. That is always sad to me in typical shelters, as our cat rooms are such happy places for our cats to hang out together on couches, or climb cat trees, or romp with toys, and it is a nice place for people to volunteer and visit with them and groom them. It is a happy place to visit a cat, and potentially to choose a cat to adopt.

(Note: the beautiful cat pictured below is available for adoption. She is declawed and has some litterbox issues but would be perfect for a person that perhaps had an outside catio! Can you help this gorgeous cat find a home?)

photo 5-1Seeing cats living full time in cages is just sad to me…but the hope is still there that they will find a place to create such a room in the future, and Katrina did seem to support the idea.

She did mention to me that vets they had spoken to didn’t like the idea of a cat room because then if a cat got sick how could you tell which one it was that was vomiting or had diarrhea? Well, on the surface that does seem to be a valid point, but in reality that doesn’t make that much sense. First, cats that are happy and socialized get sick LESS often…cutting down on your medical bills (cats in cages can often be stressed and this can cause them to have chronic upper respiratory issues). Also, if that is the belief than how do you validate adopting out a cat to anyone that already HAS a cat or two at home? How would THEY tell which of their OWN cats were sick?

The answer in all the catteries I have know of or have visited, ours, Best Friends, Karma Cats, Mid Hudson animal Aid – is that you KNOW your cats. You pay attention to things like who isn’t as active today or who is laying in a spot that is not their “normal” spot, and you spend extra time in that room watching for a cough, or a litter box visit. We will actually send volunteers into our cat rooms and say – “hey watch for a while and let us know”. The major organizations that have cat rooms don’t have an unnecessary issue with this at all. So it shouldn’t be a reason to stop any caged cat shelter from considering a cat room. We hope that PJHS will continue to consider an open cat room, and I do believe that they are leaning this way. But in the meantime the cats appeared to be well cared for and segregated properly.

I reiterate that there is no place for a cat volunteer to really spend time cuddling, grooming or playing with a cat though and if that was possible, it might also result in increased adoptions. One thing at a time though!

We then went to check out the dogs. The dog kennels are old and outdated, and unfortunately there is nothing any of us can do about this without spending a lot of money. At Pets Alive we lasted five years with absolutely deplorable kennels and we had dogs injured or fighting through them before we raised enough to redo them. It was horrible and every day we came in, in fear that dogs had broken through and killed one another. That didn’t happen, but still it was a fear and we hated our kennels. When we finally raised enough to redo them (thank you SideWalk Angel’s Foundation!) we could only afford to redo the INSIDE kennels – the outside are still horrible and need to be replaced. Again…one step at a time, for us too!

It is the same thing at the PJHS. The kennels are old and wearing down and need to be replaced for the safety of the dogs but that isn’t going to be something that can happen quickly or easily. In the meantime the dogs seemd to be in clean environments and all had clean water. Most seemed to be in good health but the stress of the kennels was also apparent for some for the dogs. Again, this is a tough situation with the old kennels and something we had issues with too (and STILL do in the outside part of the runs).

The answer? More volunteers to get these dogs OUT and walked and some time spent with them. They need more volunteers to help with the dog socialization and they especially need these volunteers DURING the week. If you can help and live nearby, consider giving some of your time to these dogs.

I was disappointed to see that only one dog in the kennel had anything to lay on. No bedding or blankets or Kuranda beds for them. Just the cement floor and in some cases they had smaller dogs in some LARGE kennels and some very large dogs in some narrow kennels. Not sure why that was. This week we did drop off a bunch of hospital pads that we had an excess of, so maybe they can lay something down for the dogs…or maybe people can donate items that work for the dogs to lay on. Laundry is a HUGE ordeal at our shelter and it is overwhelming. Katrina did mention that people donate HUGE comforters to them sometimes and they can NOT wash them in their smaller washing machine, hence they can not use them. So maybe that is why the dogs don’t have anything to lay on but the concrete floor. The massive amount of laundry it generates every day, and the fact that many items won’t fit in the washer. Kuranda beds would be the answer but admittedly they are costly.

They had a mama dog that had just given birth there. She was very comfy with lots of bedding for her and the pups to lay on, and had been moved to a quiet room away from the noise and bustle of the kennel. THAT alone was a great sign to me. I hate going into shelters and seeing puppies just born laying in kennels with their moms and all the other dogs barking and the daily work just going on around them. I was really thrilled to see that this dog had been moved to a bathroom inside a much quieter area at the shelter.

photo 1-1

The tour continued to seeing the drop off room where Animal Control officers leave animals overnight, and the medical room and medical ward for the sick cats. There is also a separate area for the court ordered dangerous dogs. They also have an outdoor farm animal area. While they do not currently have any farm animals they do have a few nice barns with decent enclosures for farm animals.

We discussed a lot of things. You’ve all read Dr. Roeder’s (their veterinarian’s) letter by now. Katrina had some things to say about that. I won’t address ALL of the charges that Dr. Roeder made, but I do feel that since I put her letter out there, that PJHS deserves equal time in regards to their side of it. Let me first say that Dr. Roeder is a very well respected veterinarian in this area. She was their vet on record for 30+ years….but according to Katrina, she didn’t go there to the shelter. Ever. That struck me as a little odd – if you are the veterinarian on record for 30+ years, why haven’t you regularly give a look-see to the facility and the care that is being given to the animals? Is that her job to come onsite? No. She isn’t their STAFF veterinarian, but in my world, it seems to make sense that she would come down to look things over now and again. As a vet, if she had been onsite regularly, could she have stopped the conditions and treatment that some of the animals were subjected to, much earlier?

photo 2The PJHS advised me that as to her comment that she had revoked Katrina’s license to perform euthanasia’s – they say she had no power to do that. Only the licensing board can revoke a license. She COULD and DID revoke her “recommendation” for Katrina, but she couldn’t take away the license itself, so Katrina did nothing wrong by continuing to do euthanasia’s after Dr. Roeder’s removal of her recommendation.

In regards to selling illegal drugs on their website and at the shelter, Katrina advised that this was flea and tick medication. She admitted that they DID do this, but when their drug rep advised they could not do so, they removed it.

In regards to using drugs they were not legally permitted to use without a veterinarian, they admit that they did do that on one occasion and the story they told me had me wondering if I wouldn’t do the exact same thing. Their version of that story is that a dog came in that was picked up by a police officer. The back of the officer’s car was saturated with blood and the dog was bouncing around like crazy. Repeatedly they tried to calm him enough to see where the blood was coming from so they could wrap it and get him to an emergency vet, but they say he was rapidly losing blood and was too hyper for them to get calmed down. So they sedated him with a drug they weren’t supposed to use, and they were able to staunch the blood flow, wrap the wound and get him to Dr. Roeder’s for exam and repair.

At this point, I am not saying what is true or what isn’t…but both sides tell a compelling tale and both sides are still battling it out. I’m going to move on from that but I felt since I posted Dr. Roeder’s letter, that it was only fair to also post their side of the issues discussed in that letter.

Some of the positive changes? We are working quite well together now. We held a seminar together on feeding bottle babies and trying to get some additional fosters to step up and help these orphaned or abandoned baby kittens who previously were killed. We have taken in an animal or two that they needed help with. We are sharing our donations with them if we have things they can use there, and we are communicating and working together on a regular basis.

We are even working together in regards to some pet shops in Port Jervis that sell dogs – and are developing a plan for a way to try to work with them to make sure these animals are cared for properly, or at least altered prior to “sale” (we are still working on that – more to come soon in regards to that incident), and we share texts and emails on a wide variety of things.

Other improvements in the past months?

  • Katrina advised they have a regular volunteer program now. Orientation is the first Sunday of every month from 12-1.
  • They offer a constant Adopt-One-Get-One free for all cats (ongoing special).
  • They are doing offsite adoption events every week.
  • They are developing their board again with responsible, animal-loving people.
  • Staff moral is much improved
  • The overall health of the animals has improved.
  • Relationships with volunteers have improved.
  • Dog training classes have started. Similar to our “Improving Adoptability” classes they recently held a seven week class with volunteers geared at helping shelter dogs.
  • Katrina is attending seminars in shelter enrichment programs.
  • They are working on building relationships with rescues to pull animals from them.
  • They recently signed up for the ASPCA M.A.P. program (which helps shelters connect with each other).
  • They created a catio for cats to spend some time in our of cages and with access to the fresh air.
  • Nursing moms and babies are NO LONGER euthanized – they are fostered out!
  • They are starting a TNR program for feral cats
  • They have not euthanized any dogs for space since Katrina has taken over.
  • They are trying to get the dogs more Kong toys
  • Trying to get donations of Feliway for cats
  • Working on a stereo/music system for the animals to decrease stressphoto 4-1
  • They are doing a T.A.R.A spay/neuter clinic for the public on August 1.

Goals for the future include not killing feral cats. Feral cats that come in are still being killed but they are developing programs to talk to the public and do TNR for these cats instead of killing them. They are encouraging the public to re-release them if they (PJHS) take care of the altering.

Some other positive things to mention – they will always take their animals back. Recently they drove all the way to Maryland to pick up a dog that had been adopted from them years before and picked up as a stray. They are committing to their dogs for life, even when this is inconvenient.

While I was there a litter of bottle baby kittens came in. The staff immediately sprang into action heating water bottles, getting bottles ready and reaching out to find a foster to bottle feed. If none could be found they were not going to kill them – instead a staff member would take them home for the night.

What they need now is mostly donations and volunteers. We beat them up when they were doing it wrong, now let’s get out there and support them for doing it right. They especially need dog walkers. They especially need volunteers during the week.

photo 5My final appeal is for you all to look at this cat, Morris, they have there. (I am sorry I took such a bad picture!) Morris is a beautiful guy that wanders free at the shelter. He is SUPER friendly and always wants to be wherever you are following you all over the place and trying to insinuate himself in whatever you are doing. He was returned to the shelter for being “too needy”.

I hope that someone who reads this blog will go and adopt Morris today. Tell them you read the blog, you support all the positive changes and you want to help give a needy cat as wonderful as this guy a home. You’ll be glad you did.

Filed in No-kill by kerry on Jun 26, 2013.  There are 10 comments.  

You Can Save Them All: An Introduction to Canine Hospice, Senior, and Special Needs Care

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Do you have an interest in providing hospice (end of life) care for dogs but aren’t sure how to get started, or what the experience is like? Are you interested in adopting a senior animal but you’re a little hesitant? Would you be interested in adopting a special needs dog who needs just a little extra help?

When Pets Alive took over the old Elmsford Animal Shelter, we found hundreds of dogs that were seniors. Some had even arrived ten or twelve years before – and no effort was made to ever get them a home. They have lived their entire lives in a cement run, and now some are at a very advanced age, and some have medical conditions that mean they would be so much better off in homes.

The staff at Pets Alive are desperate to get them into homes, and many of our volunteers have stepped up and provided hospice and senior care for the animals most in need. The experience has been very rewarding and very heart wrenching. There is no greater respect, nor admiration that we could have – than for our volunteers who do this for our dogs (and cats!).

This picture is Nyko, a litte angel of an 15 year old Shiba Inu. We are looking for a home for him, and we will continue to cover all his expenses including his medical expenses. What does that entail?

Come to Pets Alive Westchester on Friday, June 14 at 7pm for an introduction to the principles and practice of canine hospice, as well as senior and special needs care. Experienced practitioners will take you through the process, there will be a Q&A for questions, and Pets Alive Westchester staff will be on hand to explain how they can support your efforts.

There is no obligation.
No expectations of you.

Please just come and learn what it is all about.

This seminar is free!

Please RSVP to It is not necessary to RSVP – if you find yourself free that night, please just come, but we are requesting RSVP’s to make sure we have enough bottled water and snacks for everyone, and that there is enough interest to host this seminar.

Pets Alive Westchester is located at:
100 Warehouse Lane South
Elmsford, NY 10523

Filed in No-kill by John Sibley on Jun 06, 2013.  There are 0 comments.  

Results are in – 214 animals find homes this weekend from Pets Alive via Maddie’s Adoption Event!

What a crazy weekend. In all my years of volunteering, or working at animal rescues, I have never seen anything like it. Ever.


I think that was the feeling of all of the staff, volunteers, and yes, even the adopters at this weekend’s Maddie’s Adoption Days Event.

At Pets Alive we placed 214 of our precious animals into homes.
Two HUNDRED and fourteen.
214 animals that last night slept in homes, in beds, on couches, and wrapped in blankets and the arms of families that would love them…instead of going into a cement run for the night.

I can’t tell you what that means to all of us.

At Pets Alive when we heard about this event we KNEW we had to get in on it. We KNEW we had to be a part of it and we couldn’t wait to see the results.

kittenadoptedAll of our staff worked so hard in the weeks leading up to the event. We pre-approved HUNDREDS of adoption applications. We bathed and groomed our dogs. We scheduled four offsite events so that we could reach people that weren’t close to our two physical locations in Elmsford and Middletown….or that weren’t aware of the event and would see us out there and take advantage of such an amazing “deal”.

We called up the press and had them write stories about the event, and we advertised it everywhere we could. Our volunteers took flyers and postcards and put them in all the local establishments – grocery stores, animal feed stores, PetCo, PetSmart, deli’s – anyplace that would let us tack up a sign or leave stacks of cards at the register. We put out HUNDREDS of flyers. We put sandwich boards on the corners and put up huge signs outside our facilities. We pulled in tons more dogs and cats, and made multiple trips to the CACC in NYC to pull as many as we could from them. We reached out to all the local shelters and told them to send us whatever animals they had been having trouble placing. We made multiple trips to the vets office to get all the animals vetted, and altered, and we pre-filled out tons of adoption and required paperwork for every animal on the property – to save us time in the event they did get adopted that weekend. In the two weeks leading up to the event our staff and volunteers were already exhausted.

Did I mention that on Saturday we also had our annual Fur Ball Fundraiser? The BIGGEST event of the year for us. We already utilize ALL our volunteers and staff to plan and execute that event, and they were to fall on the same weekend!! I admit, I had doubts we could really pull it off. Would our volunteers be burned out? Would they not come back the second day? After the late night of the Fur Ball on Saturday, would anyone show up to help us on Sunday morning?

Most of our staff had to miss the Fur Ball this year. We opened our facility from 9 am to 9 pm to get in as many adoptions as we could, and we wanted to be open and available when adopters might be able to come. Indeed we wound up opening even earlier and staying open even later as adopters just kept coming through our doors! We were NOT going to turn them away!

checkinSaturday, the day of the event showed just how awesome the Pets Alive staff and volunteers are. When I arrived at the Middletown location at 8 am, they already had tents and signs up.

There was a reception area on the lawn with laptops, and paper applications for adopters that were not already pre-approved. There was brochures and flyers out all about the event. There was signage at all the major intersections leading to Pets Alive. At the kennel, all the dogs were out in our spacious outside Camp Tyler runs. All of their runs were already clean and their pools filled with water and their toys and bandanas on. They all looked ADORABLE!

Volunteers were hustling about setting up, and people started to drive in around 8:30 am.

Our parking lot QUICKLY filled up and we had to open up one of our horse fields for the overflow. ALL weekend there would be four to seven adoptions being processed at the SAME time. In the cat house, in the dog office space, in the lounges, out at picnic tables. Our volunteers were helping to process and explain the adoption agreements, and while that was going on other volunteers and staff were showing at least 20 other families ALL AT THE SAME TIME the dogs and cats. In some cases the cat rooms were so filled, we had to have people WAIT before they could go in, for other families to leave the room.

People were actually ARGUING over some of the dogs – that THEY saw them first and they wanted to be sure the OTHER family couldn’t get that one! LOL! It was crazy, but crazy GOOD! We watched as seniors, who had been over-looked for so long, were met by families who had come to adopt a puppy – and they fell in love with the soulful eyes of an old dog. In some cases they adopted that dog AND the puppy they originally came to see. All in all between our two locations 6 senior cats went home, and 26 senior dogs went home. And 14 sick cats went home. The new owners opting to care for them at home, rather than leave them in the shelter. That alone would have made this event a success in our eyes!

oliviaIt got so packed that we created a “staging area”. So we could let about 20 families be down at the dog area at one time, but any more than that were held at the staging area where we brought dogs up to THEM to play with and interact with while we tended to the 20 or so families we already had at our dog area. Some of those dogs wound up getting adopted – including Olivia! Olivia was a sick and emaciated dog that had come to us from a cruelty case. She had put on weight and was looking better… but she still had some weird issues going on and her blood work was still all over the place. It didn’t matter. This family met her and fell in love with her in that staging area and they adopted her. They never even made it to look at the other dogs!

We also had fosters adopted. Many of our foster families that had been fostering for us were reached out to and we asked them to consider adopting their long term fosters. Almost ALL agreed, and that day those fosters became OFFICIALLY adopted…including three staff members who had been fostering a dog or a cat – they too decided it was time…and officially adopted them.

We even had GREAT results in placing our pitties. Often the most difficult dogs to place due to the lack of understanding about this truly WONDERFUL type of dog. Families would come in and just fall in love and take them home, and we were so happy to see all the love that was being showered on them.

danihenriTwo of our FAVORITES, Dani (tan) and Henrietta (white) went home TOGETHER! You may remember that Henrietta was pulled from a NYC kill shelter that was at an event that we also attended. Henrietta did NOT get adopted at the event and would have to be euthanized when they returned. We decided to take her back with us to Pets Alive instead, and yesterday – SHE WENT HOME!!!

And Dani? Dani was tied to a pole near a NYC police precinct. A kind officer found her STILL there when he left from work that night. He didn’t want to call animal control because he felt she might not make it out of the city shelter alive, and she was such a sweet dog. He took her home and fell in love with her but his landlord wouldn’t allow her to stay. He loved her so much he was considering MOVING! In the end though, that wasn’t practical for him, and so he drove her up to Pets Alive. And yesterday, this wonderful girl went home WITH Henrietta.

I really could just cry at this …and all the other adoptions that occurred.
It was miraculous.

maddyOur staff is exhausted.
Our volunteers completely fried…but no one stopped, no one gave up. They were there until after 10PM last night and at our Westchester location they were still there processing adoptions at 10:30 PM! We simply weren’t going to leave until EVERYONE that wanted a dog or a cat, HAD one.

Is this the answer?
Is free adoptions the answer to the killing in shelters?
I don’t honestly know.
Would it be effective if it was EVERY day?
If no fees were EVER charged?
I don’t know.

But I am going to carefully watch the results of this as Maddie’s and the Mayor’s Alliance post those results.
And maybe this is just ANOTHER part of the programs that need to be developed to stop the killing in America’s shelters.

Our days are not over.
saltyWe head back to work this morning because all the adoptions have to be entered into our database.
All the files have to be counted and recounted and all our numbers and paperwork have to be accurate.
We have to get all our adopters their medical info, and copies of their adoption contracts, and so today our volunteers and staff will CONTINUE to work and commit to the animals.

And do you know what our staff was doing last night at 11PM?
They were still at work, combing the euthanasia lists of all the local shelters to see how many we could commit to …so that tomorrow none would die and we could fill those 214 spots with MORE animals that could now get a second chance at a life …a family … a home.

Thank you to Maddies’ Fund for this day.
I know we have NEVER placed 214 animals in one weekend and I can’t imagine we could ever do it again.
But THIS weekend….we DID.
THIS weekend…they ALL went home.

Filed in Animal Rescue, No-kill by kerry on Jun 03, 2013.  There are 6 comments.