Sunday, June 4th marked the return of the mega adoption event in Union Square. Following a three-year, pandemic-imposed hiatus in multi-group adoptions in this iconic NYC park, several hundred pets seeking new homes — including dogs, cats, rabbits, and Guinea pigs — turned out to meet enthusiastic adopters at Petco Love’s Paws in the Park mega adoption event.
Between 2012 and 2019, the Mayor’s Alliance Adoptapalooza pet adoption extravaganza gave New Yorkers a consistent and highly anticipated meet-up for homeless animals and enthusiastic adopters, where thousands of successful matches were made. Petco Love, formerly known as the Petco Foundation, was the Alliance’s major financial supporter and sponsor for Adoptapalooza.
So it is fitting that Petco Love revived this eminent adoption tradition in conjunction with the grand opening of Petco’s new flagship store on Park Avenue South, across the street from Union Square.
“We are pleased and proud to pass to baton to Petco Love,” said Mayor’s Alliance President Jane Hoffman. “Bringing adoption groups together in a fun, family-oriented event was one of the Alliance’s key initiatives resulting in thousands of lives saved. We couldn’t be happier that Petco Love revived that tradition in Union Square.”
Special recognition goes to Susanne Kogut, President of Petco Love, and her dedicated team that spearheaded this exciting, high-energy event. 1010WINS Morning Anchor Susan Richard, a familiar face at many Alliance events in years past, co-emceed Paws in the Park with popular rap star Zeale.
Other familiar faces from the Adoptapalooza era were abundant. Diane Gauld, former Director of Special Events for the Mayor’s Alliance, who today is a certified veterinary technician who divides her time between Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) and Blue Pearl, managed a corps of volunteers that included quite a few former Mayor’s Alliance volunteers in addition to Petco staff and volunteer personnel.
Photos that captured the love and exuberance of Paws in the Park are featured here, courtesy of veteran Alliance volunteer photographers, Carol Zytnik and Dave Lagville, and celebrated photographer Geoff Tischman. Carol and Dave are among the amazing team of volunteers whose photographs recorded Alliance events in years past. Geoff has photographed pets of numerous high-profile individuals and his photographs have graced the walls of the ASPCA’s corporate offices in Manhattan.
If you were unable to attend Paws in the Park but want to adopt a Little New Yorker, check out our adoption page where you’ll find information and guidance to help you find your perfect match.
With shelters and rescue groups bursting at the seams with wonderful dogs, cats, rabbits, and other homeless pets, now is the perfect time to find your newest furry family member.
Editor’s Note:This article is more subjective than our usual Out of the Cage articles. Saying goodbye to a cherished family member is a universal but unique experience for anyone who has lost a pet. No two experiences are identical, but feelings of loss, grief, and healing often are shared by every pet parent who has lost a pet. We hope this article provides some comfort to those who might be facing such a loss or are struggling with the devastating aftereffects of having lost their beloved companion.
Today I received my beloved beagle Sully’s ashes. Sully crossed the Rainbow Bridge earlier this month following a heroic battle with cancer. The decision to humanely end his life was mine. But Sully helped guide me toward the decision. He let me know when it was time to say goodbye, just as he had guided me toward a decision six years ago to adopt an eight-year-old beagle from Animal Care Centers of NYC.
I was fortunate in that my struggle with the decision to let him go didn’t linger. Sully was lively, energetic, and happy until he wasn’t. I am confident that the medical care he received throughout his illness was competent and sensitive to his quality of life. We shared a good life together. And it was important to me that when his quality of life diminished, that I could give him that final gift of release when it was an act of love, and not one of despair.
After the death of a pet, uncertainty and guilt are two of the most common emotions that arise. Could I, or should I, have done more to prevent his or her death? Could I have changed the outcome? Did I act too hastily, or did I wait too long? I’ve heard it said, “Better five minutes too early for me that five minutes too late for my pet.” I rely heavily upon that credo, because it’s powered by compassion.
Grief quickly becomes the consuming emotion. Although grief is a healthy and normal reaction to loss, it’s painful. And we often feel compelled to suppress or outrun it. Don’t. However you experience grief, it’s a necessary part of the journey to healing. There’s no magic bullet to avoid grief. It’s actually a testament to the depth of the love you feel for your pet. Embrace it. Let it settle in your heart. And feel it transform sadness into cherished memories. Because it is there, with you, that your dearly loved companion will remain for the rest of your life.
There’s no to-do list to speed the journey to healing, but there are ways to enhance the journey. A resource which I have found helpful is Coping with the Loss of a Companion Animal, a little booklet published by Gateway Services, Inc., that carries a wealth of supportive and comforting advice.
Among the ideas presented in the booklet are ways to celebrate your pet’s life, such as having a memorial service, saving mementos that remind you of the joys of your time with your companion, and creating a photo collage or scrapbook that chronicles your life together.
Deciding to bring another pet into the home after a loss is a very personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer. Many people choose to honor their departed pet by offering a home to another rescue pet, whether by adopting or fostering. Some people take that step right away. Others choose to wait until they feel they have sufficiently mourned their loss. Again, each person, as each companion pet, is different.
For now, I’m keeping a photo of Sully nearby so I can see his sweet face throughout the day. His ashes will rest in a special place in my home among those of his furry siblings who crossed the Rainbow Bridge before him. And his precious soul has already curled up in my heart where it will remain forever.
“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller
Additional sources of pet loss inspiration and support you might find helpful
We all have our heroes – people who inspire us to be our best selves through their courage, their goodness, and their accomplishments. For NYC’s TNR community, Debi Romano is unquestionably among our greatest heroes.
“Working with Deb on any project is inspiring,” says Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor’s Alliance. “She is one of my heroes.”
Debi has had many passions — her joy of karaoke…her awesome Barbie doll collection…her cherished red Camaro. But above all, Debi’s greatest passion has been the community cats that she has devoted her life to.
For decades, Debi has demonstrated through her tireless, selfless efforts on behalf of community cats what a true hero looks like. As far back as 1976, on her way to a 4th of July rock concert, Debi took a detour to rescue a mom cat and her kittens before continuing on to the concert.
Since then, Debi has gone out of her way countless times to help cats. Always willing to step up and tackle any challenge where a cat was in need – to trap the most elusive cat, to help a fellow caretaker in need of guidance or assistance, to brave inclement weather to get a cat to safety – Debi could always be counted on to get the job done.
A trap-neuter-return (TNR) pioneer (before it was even a concept), Debi at 17 began trapping cats one-by-one and taking them to be spayed or neutered. Later, she created SaveKitty Foundation to provide a permanent source of care for community cats and a vehicle for adoptions. As a result of her trailblazing efforts, more than a thousand at-risk cats who might never have survived on the street found their way to loving homes. And by doing TNR on thousands of cats, Debi prevented the birth and suffering of tens of thousands more.
Mike Phillips, founder and President of Urban Cat League recalls a project in which he and Debi vaccinated 40 cats in an apartment at Amsterdam Houses. “Beyond Debi’s legendary TNR work, she is also an ingenious cat wrangler of really menacing indoor cats. She has helped countless people to get their fractious housecat to the vet when no one else could get the cat into a carrier,” says Mike.
“Then there were the daring rescues that no one else would, or could, do,” says Rosary Immordino, Executive Director of SaveKitty Foundation. “Stopping traffic on the Grand Central to rescue a giant turtle, netting a cat trapped on the wall of the BQE, again stopping traffic. Or running into a burning building or climbing a 40-foot tree to save a cat. It was well known that ‘firemen don’t rescue cats; Debi Romano does.’”
Even after receiving a devastating cancer diagnosis, Debi persevered with courage and determination to continue TNR, feed and care for, and, when necessary, relocate any community cat in need. Her pride and joy is the massive colony at Ravenswood Houses, the NYCHA housing community in Long Island City. For years, Debi overcame relentless obstacles and bureaucratic resistance to ensure that the Ravenswood cats received the consistent and humane care they needed to survive under less-than-ideal conditions.
Over the years, Debi shared her knowledge and experience with countless TNR caretakers and rescuers. Debi and Rosary together have formally trained close to 500 individuals in TNR, and informally, hundreds more. Debi and Rosary were among the talented slate of trainers for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) TNR workshops presented by the Mayor’s Alliance. (The Alliance founded the NYCFCI in 2006 and transferred the program to Bideawee in 2019.)
Sadly, Debi’s illness has progressed, and she is now in hospice care. But she is determined not to leave us without sharing her dying wish for the future of the Ravenswood cats. Debi posted this on Facebook:
“I’m terrified of leaving behind the cats I have been feeding each night for the past twenty years. There are about 50 of them at the Ravenswood Houses in LIC. These cats wait for me. I know their names and I look into their eyes and I feel overwhelmed with fear for their well-being. I literally drag myself out to Ravenswood and other locations each night, even when I’m in agony. I don’t know how long I can continue to do this.
My dying wish is to make sure that these cats I leave behind will be taken care of. It would mean the world to me to know — before I pass on — that there is a successful plan in place for these cats so that I can go in peace.
This is so difficult for me but, in desperation, I feel forced to ask for your help now. I’m asking each person reading this post to please set up a recurring monthly donation of $5, $10 or more if you are able. If you can’t do a monthly donation, please give any amount that you can. This would help immensely with the ongoing care of this colony and will mean more to me than I can ever express.
Rosary Immordino is my other half at SaveKitty Foundation and she, along with Alexia Vullis (NYC Pet Nanny), will oversee this project.
Your gift will provide food, medical care, trapping, and all that’s needed to ensure that the cats will continue to be cared for after I’m gone. Ultimately, our plan is to safely relocate these cats to appropriate settings where they can live out the rest of their lives away from the filthy crawl spaces that have been their homes.”
Rosary recently shared in a message to the community: “We are losing a unique and special human being, and an essential member of our rescue community. Debi has touched so many of our lives. She has trained, mentored and helped so many of us. The thought of losing her is unbearable. Debi has expressed regret that she is unable to respond to the enormous outpouring of love from so many of you but wants us to know that, just as we are thinking about her, she is thinking about us.”
To donate to the project and make Debi’s wish come true, please donate online or send a check, payable to SaveKitty Foundation, to 87-02 30th Avenue, East Elmhurst, NY 11369. Thanks to the generosity of the Linda and Alan Kahn Foundation, your donation will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $10,000 for all donations. SaveKitty Foundation is a 501(c)3 and donations are tax-deductible.
The Mayor’s Alliance salutes our brave hero, Debi Romano, and extends our gratitude to Debi for all the good she has done, for the inspiration she has provided, and for the love and care she has shared with her community and its cats.
Photos provided by Rosary Immordino, SaveKitty Foundation.
When Mariia and her family fled war-torn Ukraine in October 2022, they left behind loved ones, friends, and nearly everything they cherished to seek safety for their family. After settling in Queens, the family began to rebuild their lives and struggle to regain a sense of normalcy.
So when Lary, their beloved 12-year-old Cocker Spaniel, developed a papilloma on his head that was growing larger, Mariia and her family were devastated. Without the funds to pay for the surgery to remove the growth, they feared they might lose him.
“Lary is our member of the family,” said Mariia. “We love him very much. My children can’t imagine their lives without him.”
So they reached out to the Mayor’s Alliance for help.
The Alliance does not provide medical grants. But we routinely refer pet owners to low-cost veterinary clinics and hospitals in the NYC area. So we referred Mariia to a low-cost provider for Lary’s medical care. But the estimate for his surgery was still out of reach for her family’s budget.
As luck would have it, the Alliance’s director of communications, Steve Gruber, had a fortuitous introduction that week to Evan Stoopler, who, with his wife Aimee, founded URvet Care in New York City. URvet Care is a veterinary franchise that provides urgent, specialty, and primary care for pets. With locations on the Upper East Side and Tribeca, and soon-to-come locations in Midtown and on the Upper West Side, URvet Care is a welcome addition to the ecosystem of veterinary care in New York City.
Evan had contacted Steve to discuss the hospital’s goal of working with NYC’s rescue community to provide affordable veterinary services for the animals in their care. Introducing Evan to shelters and rescue groups in NYC fit squarely into the Alliance’s role as a connector, and we were delighted to begin to make introductions to our rescue contacts.
Recognizing Evan’s deep commitment to collaboration to help animals, Steve told him about Mariia’s plight with her dog Lary. Without hesitating, Evan offered URvet Care’s services to help this family in need.
“My family and I have always been supporters of the Ukrainian people as well as in our business, as all of our interior signage is from Ukrainian artisans,” says Evan. “The opportunity to help Mariia’s family was one that resonated with us deeply. We are grateful to our Chief of Staff, Dr. Andrew Karmin, for immediately stepping in and offering to perform the necessary surgery, ensuring that Lary received the necessary and appropriate post-care.”
Mariia is beyond grateful to Evan and URvet Care. “I want to express my great gratitude for the invaluable help Evan has provided,” she says. “Thank you, URvet Care team, for your time and attention to my pet Lary. Thanks from my children – you saved their friend and now they are happy to play again with him. May your kind hearts be happy and loved, and may peace be upon you and your families.”
Evan and the URvet Care team demonstrated the very best of the veterinary profession in providing lifesaving care for Lary. Over the past two decades, the Alliance has worked with numerous veterinary practices and hospitals. We have witnessed firsthand acts of generosity and goodwill on behalf of members of the veterinary community. They are heroes, and URvet Care has clearly joined their ranks.
We are delighted to welcome URvet Care into NYC’s veterinary community and we encourage NYC’s shelters and rescue groups to reach out to Evan to explore partnership opportunities. To learn more about URvet Care and the services it provides, visit URvetCare.com or email Evan@URvetCare.com.
And we welcome Mariia, Lary, and their family to their new home in NYC where they will find New Yorkers to be some of the most welcoming and pet-loving people in the world!
February is the shortest month, but it’s certainly not short on animal related observances. That makes sense, given that it’s the month we celebrate LOVE. And what is more loving than our companion animals?
How each of us repays the love we get from our pets is as unique as we are. But it’s important to recognize how truly remarkable that bond is between humans and our animal companions. It’s a bond always to be cherished and never taken for granted.
With that thought in mind…
February is Responsible Pet Owners Month.
So how can you celebrate? You might start by taking a close look at how you care for your companion animals. Is their food appropriate to their age and overall health? Are your pets overweight? (According to a study cited in USA Today, more than half of cats and dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.)
Do your pets get enough exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation for their individual needs? Have they been spayed or neutered and vaccinated? Are they getting routine vet care, especially as they get older? Are they microchipped to expedite their return to you if they become lost?
These are some key components of responsible pet ownership. It’s a good idea to evaluate your success in giving your pets their best life possible. If you need help caring for your pet, please visit our website’s Need Help?section for ideas and resources to help you better meet their needs.
February is I Love NYC Pets Month.
From 2007 to 2012, the Mayor’s Alliance presented I Love NYC Pets Month. This citywide celebration supported our goals of increasing pet adoptions and spay/neuter surgeries in order to increase the live release rates at our city’s shelters. Throughout February, we and our many rescue partners featured dozens of pet adoption events and other festivities to shine a spotlight on NYC’s homeless pets.
Today, the landscape of NYC’s rescue community is different than it was more than a decade ago, and Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) has maintained live release rates above 90% for the past six years. But promoting pet adoption remains at the heart of the Alliance’s mission. And so, if your lifestyle and finances align with adding a new furry family member, we encourage you to celebrate I Love NYC Pets Month and adopt from ACC or any of the other wonderful shelters and rescue groups in the area.
February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month.
If you’re thinking about adopting, consider adopting a pair of rabbits. (Rabbits prefer the company of other rabbits.) And since February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month, what better way to show you care than to open your home to rabbits in need of love?
Just remember, rabbits aren’t an appropriate choice for every household. They are not good “starter” pets, because they have certain care requirements that make them high maintenance pets for some families. And it’s important to have your rabbits spayed and neutered because…well, they reproduce like rabbits, and before you know it, two become 10! For rabbit spay/neuter information, please visit our Rabbits as Pets page.
New York State law prohibits the sale of rabbits in pet stores, so if you’re interested in bringing a rabbit into your family, you’ll need to adopt from a shelter or rescue group. The adoption experts at ACC, Bunnies and Beyond, or any of the other rescue organizations that offer rabbits for adoption can help you determine if a rabbit adoption is in your future. When you adopt a rabbit from ACC or a reputable rescue group, the rabbit will be spayed or neutered before you bring them home. Please visit our Rabbits as Pets page for information about rabbit adoption and veterinary care.
February is Black Dog Syndrome Awareness Month.
Black Dog Syndrome is a phenomenon that has shown that black dogs (and cats) often are overlooked by adopters. This results in black dogs and cats often experiencing longer shelter stays and lower adoption rates.
But perceptions can be changed. As anyone who shares their home with a black dog or cat will tell you, they are just as loving and wonderful as any other dog or cat. So if you happen to be looking for a new best friend or family member, don’t overlook those beautiful black dogs and cats just waiting to brighten up your life!
February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, and World Spay Dayis February 28.
Of course you understand why you should have your dogs and cats spayed or neutered, right? Today the tougher question is, how can I get an appointment for the surgery, particularly if I need to locate free or low-cost spay/neuter services?
Unfortunately, a nationwide shortage of veterinary personnel and lingering COVID-related delays continue to make the quest for affordable veterinary services just that – a quest. Every day we respond to numerous requests from pet owners looking for spay/neuter services for their pets. If you are among those pet owners, we encourage you to visit our spay/neuter page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll provide you with a list of low-cost spay/neuter resources in and around New York City.
AmazonSmile winds down by February 20.
For the past decade, Amazon has made it easier for customers to support their favorite charities through AmazonSmile. The Mayor’s Alliance has been a proud partner with AmazonSmile, and we are grateful to our many supporters who have used the program to channel funds to the Alliance through their Amazon purchases.
As you might have heard, Amazon has decided to focus its philanthropic giving to programs with greater impact. Effective February 20, the Amazon Smile program will no longer be available.
However, for those shoppers whoare looking for ways to shop more ethically, please take a look at this article.
In case you missed it: Punxsutawney Phil, the nation’s official groundhog who resides in Pennsylvania, spotted his shadow on February 2, thereby predicting six more weeks of winter.
Stay safe, stay warm, and stay healthy. We wish you and all your family members a February filled with love!