A Tale of Two Sisters

Liz Keller of Glen Wild Animal Rescue trained Farrell and her sister Starr to work in the Dog Assisted Therapy Program for inmates at Rikers Island.

Liz Keller of Glen Wild Animal Rescue trained Farrell and her sister Starr to work in the Dog Assisted Therapy Program for inmates at Rikers Island.

by Liz Keller, Glen Wild Animal Rescue

In February 2013 I received a call from Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) asking if I could take three Pit Bull mix puppies. Glen Wild Animal Rescue normally works with adult dogs, but I had recently founded Rescue Dogs Rescue Soldiers and thought this would be a great time to start training some pups.

The three pups arrived — thanks to transport arranged by AC&C’s New Hope Department and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s AnimalsWheels of Hope program. Looking back over their arrival and their time here with me, it’s obvious they were sent here to fulfill a purpose.

As part of our program we name our dogs in training after fallen soldiers, with the families’ blessings. With great honor, we named one of the pups Farrell (after Sgt. Shawn Farrell), and the second pup was named in honor of Don Starr (the deceased father of one of our trainers who had served in the military).

The third pup was a beautiful male with blue eyes, tall and strong. I had a feeling he would be a good match for Manny — a young college student who works in my Shelter Dog Training Program. In fact, the pup, now named Rocky, has found a great permanent home with Manny.

Back at the sanctuary, I began training Farrell and Starr — who I called “the sisters.” Soon, they started to accompany me and my adult dogs to two upstate juvenile detention centers. The pups loved these visits, and what amazed me is how they instinctively knew what to do. Once at the facilities they would jump out of the van and run and play with the young men we were visiting. At the same time they were being socialized and receiving basic training. I did not realize at the time that all this was preparing them for a very important job!

Pit Bull mix puppies, Starr, Farrell, and brother Rocky, were taken in from AC&C by Liz Keller for training.

Pit Bull mix puppies, Starr, Farrell, and brother Rocky, were taken in from AC&C by Liz Keller for training.

The training with the pups was going very well and I knew that Farrell would make a great service dog, as she loved to retrieve. Starr was very sensitive and was looking good as a therapy dog. I knew that these pups were special and, when the time was right, I would know what to do in regard to their placement.

A few months into their training, I was contacted by a Deputy Commissioner at Rikers Island (part of the New York City Department of Correction). She had heard about my Dog Assisted Therapy Program and was hoping I could bring it to Rikers.

I agreed to meet with her and her staff at the jail. I must admit I was a bit nervous. Accompanied by one of my therapy dogs, Tasha, we were welcomed with open arms. I am proud to say it was an historic day. Tasha was the first therapy dog to step “paws” on the Island, and she even got to visit one of the juvenile boys’ units, which was a great success. I was thrilled. I was invited to bring the program to Rikers.

As I drove home, I began to plan for this incredibly important initiative. I needed dogs who would be comfortable with large numbers of people in a busy environment, the many checkpoints, and the loud noises as the gate opened and closed (pretty much like the noise you hear on Law & Order).

Then the proverbial light bulb went on in my head — the sisters, Farrell and Starr!

Their first visit was unforgettable. The sisters slept most of the way on the drive from Glen Wild to Queens. But, as we approached the jail’s security gate, I asked them, “Are you Rikers ready?” And although they had never been to a jail before, they instinctively knew it was time to go to work.

Farrell, Starr, and their Glen Wild Animal Rescue handlers visit Rikers Island, 'Home of New York's Boldest,' every week to work with the inmates.

Farrell, Starr, and their Glen Wild Animal Rescue handlers visit Rikers Island, ‘Home of New York’s Boldest,’ every week to work with the inmates.

They forged ahead, marching right up to the front door. The “PISSSSHHHHHHHHHHH” noise of the lock popping open did not faze them one bit. They stormed the hallway — chests out front as if to say, “We are here!”

Our first unit was the adult male mental health unit. One by one, with Correction Officers close by, the residents came up to the dogs and were visibly happy to meet them. We heard stories of how many of them missed their dogs at home; one resident even ran and got a picture of his dog.

There was one inmate who, according to his clinician, never came out of his cell. Yet, he did for Starr and he even touched her! My nervousness subsided and I saw how much love and happiness Farrell and Starr were bringing to these men who really needed it.

Then we went on to visit the juvenile boys and girls, and the women’s jails. Farrell and Starr’s tails never stopped wagging, and the residents participated and totally enjoyed the experience.

After our first visit, weekly visits were set up and we have continued to see more and more involvement by the residents we visit. They appreciate what we do and they love our dogs.

As I drove off Rikers Island, I noticed the large sign at the entrance. It stated “Home of New York’s Boldest,” and I thought, yes, these sisters are bold and they are doing a job that they were put on this earth to do.

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Animal Care & Control of NYC, Dogs, Wheels of Hope | Leave a comment

Just in Time for Easter: Rabbit Adoptions & FREE Spay/Neuter

(Photo by PawPrintsbyDave)

(Photo by PawPrintsbyDave)

Back by popular demand, a free spay/neuter clinic for rabbits will be held in Manhattan on March 28, and rabbits will be available for adoption from New York City shelters and rescue groups all spring.

Rabbits can make wonderful pets for people who are ready to meet their unique care needs, but many people who impulse-purchase bunnies as Easter gifts are ill-prepared to meet the challenge. When their maturing new pets’ care demands and prolific breeding habits become evident, many end up releasing their bunnies outdoors, unaware that domestic rabbits cannot survive in the wild. Others give up their pets to animal shelters like Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) or its rabbit adoption partner, NYC Metro Rabbit, the adoption program of Rabbit Rescue & Rehab. These organizations alone take in roughly 600 rabbits each year, making rabbits the third-largest animal shelter population after cats and dogs.

In December, the New York City Council passed a law banning the sale of rabbits in pet stores. The measure, signed into law by Mayor de Blasio, goes into effect on June 17, 2015. This law will help reduce the number of unwanted rabbits who are brought to shelters or released outdoors. Starting on June 17, any New York City resident interested in getting a rabbit as a new pet must adopt from a shelter or rescue group. Even before that date, we encourage New Yorkers who are prepared to add a rabbit to their family to adopt rather than purchase a bunny from a pet store. All pet rabbits should be spayed or neutered to prevent nuisance behaviors, overpopulation, and displacement.

Oscar was neutered at last year's free rabbit spay/neuter clinic at the Humane Society of New York. (Photo by Sandra DeFeo, The Humane Society of New York)

Oscar was neutered at last year’s free rabbit spay/neuter clinic at the Humane Society of New York. (Photo by Sandra DeFeo, The Humane Society of New York)

Have Your Rabbit Spayed or Neutered for Free on March 28!

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, in conjunction with the Humane Society of New York, will once again offer a free spay/neuter clinic for rabbits — just in time for Easter!

Saturday, March 28, 2015
The Humane Society of New York, 306 East 59th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), NYC

Appointments must be made in advance by calling (212) 752-4842. Rabbit owners may be asked to bring their rabbits in for a free check-up a few days before the surgery.

   

(Photo by PawPrintsbyDave)

(Photo by PawPrintsbyDave)

Don’t Shop. Adopt a Rabbit This Spring!

Jane Hoffman, president of the Alliance, encouraged New Yorkers who are considering adding a bunny to their families to adopt from rescue groups and shelters instead of buying rabbits from pet stores.

“Adopting provides many benefits,” explains Hoffman. “Like all New York City shelter animals, shelter rabbits are spayed or neutered before they are given to their adopters to take home. Also, adoption counselors are expert matchmakers, and they can provide guidance on how to care for rabbits, which is very different from caring for cats and dogs.”

Among the many places New Yorkers can adopt rabbits are the Humane Society of New York; the Manhattan location of Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C); Petco’s East 86th Street and Union Square stores and some Petland Discounts locations, which have rabbits and adoption counselors from NYC Metro Rabbit; Brooklyn’s Sean Casey Animal Rescue, and Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group.

If you see a rabbit below who you would like to meet, please contact his/her shelter or rescue group for more information.

   

   

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Events & Campaigns, Pet Adoption, Press Release, Rabbits, Spay/Neuter | 2 Comments

Meet the NYC Feral Cat Initiative Team: Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips teaches 'Taming Feral Kittens for Adoption' and other workshops for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals. (Photo by Marc Birnbach)

Mike Phillips teaches ‘Taming Feral Kittens for Adoption’ and other workshops for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. (Photo by Marc Birnbach)

Mike Phillips, a long-time champion for pet and community cats, has been working with the NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI), a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, since its inception in 2005.

Mike’s current focus is on education and community outreach. He is an instructor for several NYCFCI workshops, including Taming Feral Kittens for Adoption, Building Shelters for Outdoor Cats, Enhancing Neighborhood Relations Surrounding Community Cats, and Advanced Trapping Techniques. He helped develop and also teaches the organization’s TNR caretaker certification workshops. In addition, Mike shares the responsibility of responding to e-mails from those seeking advice on how to help feral cats and who want information about what the NYCFCI has to offer. “I almost always recommend that those new to feral cats take the TNR caretaker workshop and get certified,” says Mike. “It’s a fast-track first step toward understanding what services are available to help them take positive action.”

At a recent workshop, Mike demonstrated the tools, materials, and methods used to build simple winter shelters for outdoor cats. (Photo by Marc Birnbach)

At a recent workshop, Mike demonstrated the tools, materials, and methods used to build simple winter shelters for outdoor cats. (Photo by Marc Birnbach)

In fact, getting more folks certified is one of Mike’s major goals for the NYCFCI as it moves forward. “Ongoing monitoring of a colony is most efficiently done when caretakers are certified and understand the process and our program’s services,” he affirms.

Mike is a Licensed Veterinary Technician as well as the President and a Co-founder of Urban Cat League, a non-profit organization founded in 2002 that is dedicated to humanely improving the lives of street cats. In addition, he has a career as a theater director and choreographer that has spanned several decades.

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

Posted in Cats, Feral Cats & TNR | Leave a comment

Become a Certified Caretaker for Stray & Feral Cats in Queens

(Photo by Maggie O'Neill)

(Photo by Maggie O’Neill)

Free Workshop Provides TNR Certification

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – Queens, NY – On Saturday, March 7, and Saturday, April 4, 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Queens residents (18 years and older) are invited to attend a free TNR certification workshop where they will gain the knowledge and skills needed to help the feral and stray community cats in the neighborhood and in any part of New York City. Through live demonstrations and informative video presentations, participants will learn about feral cats, how to distinguish feral cats from stray cats, their history and behavior; the steps of humane trapping; and how to care for feral cat colonies. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will become Certified TNR Caretakers and will be eligible for support and resources to help them maintain their community cat colonies, while immediately improving the lives of the cats.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the most effective and humane approach to managing feral cat colonies and reducing the number of cats over time. During TNR, cats are humanely trapped by trained volunteer caregivers. They then are brought to veterinary clinics, where they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, marked with an “eartip” to identify the cat as sterilized and vaccinated, and then returned to the exact location where they were trapped. TNR greatly reduces nuisance behaviors while maintaining the benefit of natural rodent control that the community cats provide. It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of community cats throughout the five boroughs.

The workshop is designed by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, the ASPCA, and Alley Cat Allies, and hosted by the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, CSM Stray Foundation, and SaveKitty Foundation.

Advance registration is required.

Saturday, March 7, 2015
11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Queens Library – Far Rockaway Branch, 1637 Central Avenue, Far Rockaway
RSVP Online: bit.ly/TNR150307
Saturday, April 4, 2015
11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Queens Library – Steinway Branch, 21-45 31st Street, Astoria
RSVP Online: bit.ly/TNR150404

   

Learn More & RSVP Learn More & RSVP


Mayor's Alliance for NYC's AnimalsAbout the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals®
The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that works with more than 150 partner rescue groups and shelters to offer important programs and services that save the lives of NYC’s homeless animals. We are supported entirely by donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals and receive no government funding. Since our founding in 2003, we have remained committed to transforming New York City into a no-kill community by 2015, meaning that no dogs or cats of reasonable health and temperament will be killed merely because they do not have homes. www.AnimalAllianceNYC.org

Media Contact

Courtney Savoia, LAK Public Relations, Inc.
Phone: (212) 329-1408
E-mail: csavoia@lakpr.com

Posted in Cats, Events & Campaigns, Feral Cats & TNR, Press Release, Spay/Neuter | Leave a comment

“New York Live Pet Project” Celebrates Five Years on NBC New York

   

New York Live Pet Project1,000 Shelter Dogs Adopted During the Past Five Years of Pet Adoption Weekly Segment

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 – New York, NY – NBC 4 New York’s daily lifestyle show, New York Live, is proud to celebrate its fifth year of the beloved New York Live Pet Project. The weekly Thursday segment is responsible for the adoption of 1,000 shelter dogs since its 2010 launch in partnership with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

New York Live’s anniversary of the New York Live Pet Project will air February 19th at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC 4 New York.

The New York Live’s Pet Project anniversary show will be entirely dedicated to animal adoption, and will celebrate the success of the New York Live Pet Project with longtime supporter, the SPCA of Westchester. In addition to celebrating the segment’s fifth anniversary, New York Live anchor Ben Aaron will celebrate the birthday of his dog and animal advocate Jill Rappaport — host of the upcoming adoption special, Best in Shelter with Jill Rappaport — will lend her support as a live guest.

New York Live is proud to support the adoption of so many worthy animals from shelters across the tri-state area,” said Nick Veneziale, Executive Producer of New York Live.

New York Live continues to work with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to promote a “No-Kill” policy in New York City, in which no shelter animals of reasonable health and temperament be euthanized.

Every week, the New York Live Pet Project showcases both pure and mixed breeds. The audience is presented with each dog’s name, age, breed, personality, history, and “quirky” facts. The shelter’s contact information is clearly posted so that viewers can inquire about adopting the featured pets who have warmed their hearts. In addition to tips on caring for animals and information about shelters and events in the tri-state area, viewers are informed of previously featured dogs that have been placed in “forever homes.”

The New York Live Pet Project’s five-year anniversary show will feature highlights from the segment’s best moments and follow a New York Live viewer through the process of adopting at Bideawee Animal Rescue.

The New York Live Pet Project has encouraged viewers to adopt and given new pet owners the chance to experience how amazing these animals can be.

Follow New York Live on Twitter @newyorklivetv and your co-hosts Sara Gore @sara_gore and Jacque Reid @jacquereid.


NBC 4 New YorkAbout NBC 4 New York
NBC 4 New York is one of the NBC Owned Television Stations. In addition to NBC 4’s primary channel, other programming outlets include COZI TV, the station’s multicast channel, and out-of-home platforms including TV screens in taxi cabs and N.J. PATH trains. NBC 4 New York’s award-winning broadcasts feature news, lifestyle, weather and sports programming. For more information, visit www.nbcnewyork.com.

Media Contact

Dawn Rowan, NBC 4 New York
Phone: (212) 664-5247
E-mail: dawn.rowan@nbcuni.com

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Cats, Dogs, Events & Campaigns, Pet Adoption, Press Release | Leave a comment