No Stopping Our Exceptional and Affordable Care
Pennie is an inspiring example of how our cutting-edge medical expertise transforms lives. Adopted as a puppy, Pennie — an active, eight-year-old Hound mix — was surrendered to us after she tore her cruciate ligament. Sadly, Pennie’s owners felt that her medical care was not something they could undertake. Pennie began her long road to recovery in our Pet Health Centers and required multiple surgeries to repair her ligament. To help promote faster healing and stimulate her dormant muscles, Pennie was given a series of laser treatments.
Finally, Pennie was ready for hydrotherapy in the LaRocca Wellness Center. This water treadmill is invaluable for dogs recovering from injury. The water provides stability and a safe way to help them learn how to trust their injured leg again. It also gives resistance to help build muscle. Gaining strength and confidence from her sessions, Pennie was eventually zooming around the park. This sweet girl became a favorite in the Center, receiving a parade and cheers from staff as she left to go to her foster family! At the LaRocca Wellness Center, we are equipped to not only provide ongoing wellness care, but also rehabilitation services typically found only at specialty hospitals. Fortunately we are able to make these services accessible and affordable for pet owners.
"Most shelters euthanize parvo puppies because they can’t keep them isolated. The virus is highly contagious and the risk is too high to keep them in the shelter." - Dr. Marina Tejada, Animal League America Supervising Veterinarian (pictured below)
It can take weeks of round-the-clock care for animals suffering from these kinds of conditions to recover. In 2020, the Freed Special Recovery Center treated more than a thousand dogs and cats suffering from extremely dangerous conditions including pneumonia, ringworm, parvovirus, and panleukopenia; requiring a total of 13,413 days of hospitalization. Even under the strain from COVID-19, we never turn our back on a critically ill animal. Our no-kill mission means that we will give them all the time and care they need.
North Country Initiative
Extending the Reach of Our Mission
Since 2015, the North Country Initiative (NCI), located in upstate New York, has worked tirelessly to address cat overpopulation in the area. Our Adirondack Region Cat Rescue and Adoption Center takes a holistic approach to save cats and provide them with new homes. Many of the rescued cats come from difficult situations, such as homelessness and neglect, and they are given vaccinations; treatment for illness or injuries; spaying and neutering; and behavior rehabilitation.
The emergence of COVID-19 did not stop the efforts of NCI, as the team adapted so they could continue to save feline lives. During the lockdown, NCI offered no-contact adoptions. Deborah Oligny, North Country Initiative Director reports, “We reviewed each application intimately beforehand in order to identify an appropriate match. Meet-and-greets and adoptions were coordinated individually and done by appointment only, and the staff followed all safety guidelines.”
It is that commitment and determination which leads to success stories like Daisy’s. Daisy was a feral cat who evaded capture for months until NCI team members were finally able to trap her in 2019. This six-year-old feline was rescued just in time to save her life. Her uterus was infected and on the verge of rupture. Though not particularly social, Daisy could not be returned to the colony since all her infected teeth also had to be pulled. The exceedingly patient staff at NCI did not give up on Daisy, and after eight months of behavior conditioning she finally turned a corner. Happily, Daisy now lives in the safe and loving home of her adoptive family, after being one of the longest residents at the center!
Pomeranians Given New Life After Rescue From Captivity
The 40 dogs we brought to our campus needed extra tender loving care after being severely neglected for years.
When North Shore Animal League America got the emergency call from our shelter partner, Georgia Animal Rescue Defense, to help with 178 Pomeranians who were surrendered from a backyard breeder, our Rescue Team sprang into action.
As soon as they arrived on the scene with our Mobile Rescue Unit, our Rescue Team of Karla Agostinello and Ted Moriates could see that the dogs had been severely neglected. “Every single one of the dogs we rescued was not social,” said Karla. “They did not know the feeling of a loving touch, or a dry, warm place to sleep.”
While some amateur breeders may have good intentions, in most cases these breeders put profit over animal welfare. Female dogs are imprisoned with the sole purpose of birthing litter after litter, without proper medical care or human contact, while the males exist only to breed. The conditions can be indescribably cruel — confined to cramped wire cages day after day.
The 40 dogs we brought to our campus needed extra tender loving care after being severely neglected for years. Heartbreakingly, many pups were caked with feces and had been left outside in all types of weather. After the Pomeranians were given a little time to settle in, they each received a special grooming. Some of the dogs needed to be shaved because of badly matted fur, which can pull on the skin and cause pain. Next, they were medically examined by our Animal League America team of veterinarians.
The final step in the process before adoption, besides spay and neuter surgery, is that all of the dogs undergo behavior evaluations by our Pet Behavior staff. In the end, Animal League America was able to find each Pomeranian the perfect, loving home they deserved.
Addey’s Journey Home
Addey’s life began under the cruelest conditions. Before being rescued from a backyard breeder in Georgia, Addey was treated as a puppy producing machine, and given poor nutrition, minimal medical care, and zero human kindness.
When Addey was examined by a veterinarian at our Pet Health Centers it was discovered she had a small mammary tumor, dental disease – and she was pregnant. A few weeks later Addey went into distress while in labor. “We had to do an emergency C-section for Addey,” said Dr. Kaitlyn Zaino, Staff Veterinarian. “She did well through the surgery but, unfortunately, her puppies did not survive.”
As she was recuperating in the Pet Health Center, Addey caught the eye of Dr. Emily Zhang. “Addey would huddle in the corner of the cage,” said Dr. Zhang. “If you were lucky, she would slowly try to give you her little paw.” Dr. Zhang decided to provide a foster home for Addey so she could continue to heal comfortably.
With care and patience, Addey learned to trust. Addey, renamed Maru, has now been officially adopted by Dr. Zhang’s family. Dr. Zhang reports, “Maru runs, hikes, has puppy play dates, and enjoys all kinds of treats.” After such a horrible start to life, Maru is getting to live out the rest of her years in the happy home she deserves.
Coming to the Rescue in a Time of Crisis
North Shore Animal League America was unwavering in its lifesaving rescue efforts throughout 2020. New shelter partner relationships— both national and international — enabled our Rescue Team to save even more animals who may have been euthanized in overcrowded shelters.
Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) is located in Hinds County, Mississippi — a county with one of the highest animal control pick-ups in the state. Open intake shelters in the area are overwhelmed with owner surrenders and found animals. As a no-kill organization, ARF helps to rescue dogs from overburdened municipal shelters, but becomes filled to capacity very quickly. “The association with Animal League America helps us move dogs out of harm’s way, then out of our facility,” stated Elizabeth Jackson, Executive Director and Founder of ARF. “That opens the door for us to help so many more!”
Responding to help animals when natural disasters strike is an integral part of our mission; and the southern states were hit with a stretch of severe weather in 2020. Even before Hurricane Delta made landfall, our Rescue Team was on the phone with shelter partners in Louisiana and Texas. We knew that these communities were still struggling in the wake of Hurricane Laura, and that even more animals would find themselves hungry, wandering the streets, and in desperate need of our help.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, and then Hurricane Delta, we connected with shelters in Louisiana and Texas, and developed a strong relationship with our newest rescue partner, Paws4Life,” said Karla Agostinello, Rescue Manager. Collaborating with Paws4Life, Animal League America arranged critical mobile rescue transports from hard-hit area shelters, which created more space for the steadily increasing number of homeless animals.
On the island of Puerto Rico, there are an estimated one million stray cats and 500,000 abandoned dogs, according to their Humane Society. The problem has only worsened since Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, earthquakes, and now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, people are abandoning more pets. “Two years ago, we started working with Proud Rescuers of Puerto Rico and it’s grown into such a strong partnership,” said Sylvia Ottaka, Senior Director of Rescue and Community Outreach. “Working together, we’ll save as many animals as possible. So far, we have rescued 200 felines and helped them start new lives.”
Completing the journey for our rescue animals means finding them responsible, loving homes. In 2020, Animal League America saw a surge of adopters. To keep visitors and staff safe, we adapted our protocols, while continuing to ensure an appropriate match is made. Interestingly, we witnessed an increase in senior feline adoptions. “Older animals typically sit a little longer because people want puppies and kittens,” noted Diane Johnson, Vice President of Shelter Operations. “But in 2020, we saw cats who might have been overlooked in the past due to medical conditions or age find homes. It seems that people were more compassionate with everything going on, and had the time to care for more challenging pets.”
Remote Offerings Foster Resilience: The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum
Amid these anxious times, the social and emotional wellbeing of students is more essential than ever.
Amid these anxious times, the social and emotional wellbeing of students is more essential than ever. The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is an innovative Pre-K – Grade 12 social emotional learning curriculum designed to develop empathy, resiliency, and an awareness of oneself and others in the world. The examples of hope and resiliency seen in the rescue and adoption of homeless animals build coping skills in students. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more students and teachers into virtual classrooms, we have been pleased to provide new remote offerings, and free access to all of our digital content.
Every year our Mutt-i-grees Student Ambassador program engages and recognizes students who want to advocate for shelter animals. We are thrilled that for 2020-21 we have 41 Student Ambassadors leading the way across the nation in raising awareness. Spanning the country from New York to California, from nine to 23 years of age, these students are engaging their community on the importance of rescue and what it means not only to animals, but to people as well.
We are inspired by these students coming forth to take action by promoting the importance of spaying/neutering, the plight of homeless pets, and how COVID-19 has impacted shelters. It proves that at any age you can make positive change happen. The Ambassadors continue to amaze us with their ideas, leadership, and commitment. We proudly support our Ambassador Team on their Mission for Mutt-i-grees and their efforts to create a more humane, empathetic world.
Helping Special Pets Thrive
At North Shore Animal League America, we believe every animal’s life is precious. Through our Pet Sponsorship Program, we are able to give them the best quality of life possible. Sometimes when animals come to us, they have been victims of abuse or neglect, or have a condition that requires long-term medical care. Our monthly giving society enables us to offer adoptive families the financial support they need to care for these pets for the rest of their lives; and the monthly giving structure helps us meet operational costs more effectively. Since its inception in 1997, the Pet Sponsorship Program has saved the lives of 206 animals. Our Pet Sponsorship Program donors play an essential part in transforming the lives of homeless animals, and receive regular updates on the ongoing impact of their generosity.
Khaleesi, a beautiful Siamese, was a very sick girl when she was brought to Animal League America as a kitten by her rescuers. Tests and x-rays revealed that Khaleesi has a birth defect called atresia ani. This is a condition in which the anus does not form correctly making it difficult or impossible to defecate. She would have died without emergency surgery. Khaleesi has continued to need more medical interventions as a result of her condition and will require lifelong medication. Now in the hands of a loving adopter, Khaleesi is being cared for; and thanks to the Pet Sponsorship Program, her new owner has the assistance she needs to give Khaleesi a wonderfully joyful existence.
When we first met Kovu, he was skin and bones. Turns out Kovu had a condition called “immune mediated hemolytic anemia” (IMHA), a disease in which the body attacks its own red blood cells. While the disease can’t be cured, it can be managed with lifelong medication. That wasn’t all: Kovu was found to have a heart murmur, Lyme disease, ringworm, and two of his middle toes needed to be amputated! None of that impacted the spirit of this resilient canine, as he greeted every visitor affectionately. We are so thrilled that with the assistance from our Pet Sponsorship Program, Kovu has been officially adopted by his adoring foster family.
See Our Pet Sponsorship Program Video Below!
Creative Virtual Events Kept Our Momentum Going
Supporters United Virtually for Walk & Wag
Despite the restrictions on gathering in-person, our events team was able to quickly develop new ways to gather our community of supporters and friends together in support of Animal League America. North Shore Animal League America’s Virtual Walk & Wag was held from September 1st to October 31st and included fun contests, some friendly competition, and opportunities to get your pet featured in our lifesaving Walk campaign. Tatiana McNeil (wife of all-star baseball player, Jeff McNeil) and their Animal League America rescue dog Willow led the pack as our Virtual Walk & Wag Ambassadors. The event raised nearly $75,000 to save the lives of dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens.
Our top fundraising team, Captain Cory’s Crusaders, hailed from Virginia and raised an incredible $5,655 for homeless animals. The team was comprised of employees from Production Solutions who walked in memory of their coworker and friend, Cory Kramer, who sadly passed away in 2020. Cory loved her dog, London, her three cats, Thorin, Gambit, and Teddie, and was devoted to Animal League America’s no-kill mission.
The First-Ever Virtual Celebration of Rescue
Our very first Virtual Celebration of Rescue was held on November 19, 2020, and raised $300,000 to help us continue our critical work on behalf of homeless animals.
Our very first Virtual Celebration of Rescue was held on November 19, 2020, and raised $300,000 to help us continue our critical work on behalf of homeless animals. An enjoyable evening was had by all, from the comfort of their living rooms. The evening kicked off with an exclusive VIP Party where guests mingled at virtual tables while checking out the items for auction and enjoying surprise pop-ins by adorable puppies and kittens.
The celebration showcased compelling rescues, inspiring stories of animals overcoming adversity, the dedication of our frontline workers throughout our Adoption and Pet Health Centers, celebrity guest appearances, an auction with a unique range of items including one-of-a-kind virtual celebrity experiences, entertainment by international singer-songwriter Joshua Radin, and a lifesaving pledge drive.
VIEW THE FULL SHOW BELOW!
Tireless Dedication and Limitless Love
North Shore Animal League America’s National Spokesperson, Foster Parent, and Board Member Beth Stern lives her passionate commitment to animal rescue every day.
With tremendous empathy and energy, Beth continued her feline foster care throughout all the challenges COVID-19 presented. When there is a dog, cat, puppy, or kitten in need, Beth does her best to help, understanding that all animals are deserving of love and respect.
Through Beth’s foster program, an astounding 296 cats were placed into responsible, loving homes in 2020! That number does not include the many hundreds of adoptions taking place at Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center as a result of her partnership and generosity. Host of our yearly Kitten Bowl with the Hallmark Channel, she brings national awareness to Animal League America and rescue pet adoption. Beth Stern is a shining example of someone who turns intention into action and she continues to be an inspiration for us all.
Thank you, Beth!
Our Volunteers Are in a League of Their Own
The thousands of volunteers who give their time to North Shore Animal League America are truly exceptional. Thanks to their heroic efforts, even throughout the height of the pandemic in 2020 our animals had the care they needed. Animal League America volunteers – who come to us from all walks of life – are critical to every aspect of our organization; from the care and feeding of our dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens to helping match adopters with their perfect new family member.
While a lockdown last year meant the streamlining of operations, our diverse group of volunteers met the new challenges with a positive attitude and fierce dedication to our mission. Recalls Kate Haslbauer, Feline Volunteer Team Leader, “The staff and volunteers really pulled together to be something bigger than the coronavirus that was keeping us apart. Safety precautions and thinking outside of the box kept the whole network of rescue operating, even if remotely, to get our animals into homes.” Because people couldn’t come and browse themselves, they relied more on the knowledge of the volunteers and staff who were working with these dogs and cats every day, to find the right pet for their home.
In addition, our foster families are inspirational with the love and care they provide to our special needs animals. Selflessly, these families open their homes to give temporary care for animals who may be recovering from illness or injury, or need extra attention before they are ready for adoption. Their efforts also help open up space on our campus so we can save even more lives. The work we do just wouldn’t be possible without our amazing volunteers!