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Animals

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Partisanship is a distressing topic these days. We are a divided country on so many issues, and savvy candidates in the upcoming elections try to sooth that aggravation by offering to reach across the aisle to get the nation’s business done. But here is an age-old question that is simply unbridgeable: Which are smarter, dogs or cats?

Now many of us have heard of Chaser, a border collie from Spartanburg, S.C., who understood 1,022 nouns. His owner was John Pilley, a scientist who studied canine cognition and trained his pet as part of his work. There was also a border collie named Rico who could identify 200 items. These dogs helped us reach the conclusion that dogs were extraordinarily intelligent and certainly smarter than cats. But had their partisanship colored the verdict of remarkable canine smarts on the part of owner-scientists?

Currently there seems to be a study for every question, and this one is no exception. Stephen Lea, an emeritus professor in the psychology department of the University of Exeter in Devon, England, along with Britta Osthaus, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, England, conducted one such study, according to a recent Laura Holson article in The New York Times. The results are published in the journal Learning & Behavior. In the interests of full disclosure, Lea confessed that he was a cat person. Nonetheless the scientists tried to impartially compare dog cognition with three similar groups: carnivores, social hunters and domestic animals. Among those selected were wolves, cats, chimpanzees, dolphins, horses and pigeons.

Here is what they found.

Dogs cannot use tools, unlike dolphins, New Caledonian crows and chimpanzees, which according to The Times, can harness plant stems to fish for termites. Homing pigeons are trained to fly home over great distances, and probably would be more trustworthy to travel on a 1,000-mile errand than a dog, Lea believes. Domestic animals, like horses, can also impress with their learned tasks and tricks. Dogs seem smart in part, Lea said, “because they like to be trained.” The same cannot always be said for cats.

In my dog-owning years, some 45 all together, I’ve loved and enjoyed the company of three golden retrievers and one royal (the largest) standard poodle. From this small sample, I would conclude that the poodle was the smartest. When I would sit on the sofa and read the newspaper, he would hop up on the cushion next to me, sitting upright as people and that breed do, and peer over my shoulder. I swear I think he was reading the paper, much as paperless people used to do to their paper-toting seatmates on subways before the arrival of the smartphone.

So all right, I am a bit partisan.

The conclusion that Lea’s study reaches is that dogs “are not smarter than they are supposed to be, given what they are.”

Clive Wynne, director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University in Tempe and a dog lover, recognizes merit in Lea’s study. He explains that Lea is not putting dogs down but rather putting them in their proper context. What Wynne touts about dogs is their outstanding capacity for affection.

Cats, I feel, are more aloof. So while Lea concludes that dogs are not particularly extraordinary, I would say that by being so affectionate toward humans, they have created the best possible lives for themselves. I once had a plumber working in my house who, eyeing my dog asleep on a pillow, told me, “In the next life I want to return as an American dog.”

Now if that doesn’t show superior intelligence on the part of dogs and their ability to earn that kind of existence, I’m not sure what could reveal a higher IQ. Certainly our elected officials are not nearly so endearing.

A popular Sound Beach event for a good cause took place Sept. 22, but this year it was renamed to honor a late friend and participant.

For the sixth time, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its pet adopt-a-thon in the parking lot of the Hartlin Inn on New York Avenue, during which representatives from local animal groups and shelters set up shop and push for the adoption of dogs, cats and more looking for permanent homes. During adopt-a-thons past, Sound Beach father-daughter duo Sal and Gina Mingoia provided the musical accompaniment to the event, singing and playing instruments throughout the day. This year, Gina had to perform without her dad, who died after a battle with cancer in 2017. This year and going forward, the event will be known as The Sal Mingoia Pet Adopt-A-Thon.

“Sal loved animals, and everybody loved Sal,” said Bea Ruberto, Sound Beach Civic Association president and organizer of the event. “So we checked with the family to see if it was OK with them. They said great, they loved it, so that’s why we changed the name. And that’s what it’s going to be named from now on.”

Sal Mingoia was described as a gentle, caring soul by civic association member and Sound Beach resident Ernestine Franco.

“Although he’s gone, Sal’s kindness and generosity are not forgotten,” she said.

The event always leads to the adoption of quite a few animals, according to Ruberto, who said this year four cats, three dogs and a guinea pig were adopted, though applications are pending for the adoption of eight more cats and six other dogs. More than $1,100 was raised through donations and auction items, as well as from the sale of digital pet caricatures done on-site at the event by 19-year-old Sound Beach resident Brianna Florio using a drawing tablet. Funds raised were distributed to the animal organizations in attendance.

Ruberto credited volunteers and civic members for helping to set up and execute the event and gave special thanks to Boy Scout Troop 244 for helping to set up. A local band called Random Notes even showed up unexpectedly and offered to take turns with Gina providing music for the event, Ruberto said.

“Over the time that I’ve been involved with this event, I’ve never had to really go looking for people to step up and help — they just show up and offer their time and talent,” Ruberto said.

A dog is rescued from flood waters of Hurrican Harvey in Texas. Photo from Mark Freeley's GoFundMe

After internet sensation Storm, an English golden retriever, saved a drowning fawn from Port Jefferson Harbor, now owner Mark Freely is looking to help others.

Last Chance Animal Rescue is teaming up with Freeley’s North Shore Injury Lawyer and volunteer Jeff Segal, owner of Boom Event Source, to help thousands of animals affected and displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Freeley is an animal adoption event leader, foster and pro bono attorney for Last Chance Animal Rescue on Long Island. He said the organization has a truck leaving next Wednesday, Sept. 6, being driven by Segal’s friend transporting all needed supplies to Texas, according to an email from Freeley.

There is a need for donations of dog and cat food bowls, leashes, collars, collapsible crates, cat litter and disposable litter pans.

“Last Chance has already stepped up to donate many of their existing donations to help these animals who are in dire need,” Freeley said of the Southampton-based nonprofit. “Donations will help us to send these items to Texas, and purchased items can also be donated to us.”

Items to be donated must be handed in no later than Sept. 5. Items can be brought to Freeley’s law office at 144 Woodbury Rd. in Woodbury from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., to Boom Event Source located at 11 Michael Avenue in Farmingdale from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or to the Last Chance adoption event at the Selden Petco Sept. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A truck will be dropping off supplies to the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, which is housing over 400 animals and 8,000 people, to San Antonio Pets Alive Rescue and some will also be dropped off at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, which will be taking in 200 displaced rescue animals from the Texas flooding.

“They are so desperately need our help, and as much as possible,” Freeley said. “The animals of Texas are counting on us.”

Freeley has already collected $2,200 from 41 people in less than 24 hours after creating a GoFundMe page to help the cause. The current goal is $3,000.

“Thank you for helping these poor animals,” Danielle DiNovi said with her donation.

“God bless the victims of Hurricane Harvey,” wrote Geri Napolitano with a contribution to the cause, “both big and small.”

A brave dog took Port Jefferson Harbor by storm to rescue a flailing fawn July 16, and as a result has become a national celebrity. A video was posted on Facebook Sunday morning of Storm, a dog owned by Setauket resident Mark Freeley, bounding into Port Jeff harbor to rescue a drowning baby deer as Freeley watched from the shore and urged his dog to bring the deer in. By Wednesday, several million shares and views later, the video had gone viral and Storm was set to be honored by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). Freeley said it best at the conclusion of the one-minute video: “Good boy, Storm!” Check back next week for a full story on the local hero.

Guardians of Rescue members cut the chain holding Bear. Photo from Guardians of Rescue.

One dog in Smithtown has more than a few guardian angels watching over him.

Bear has spent 15 years chained to a doghouse in the backyard of a Smithtown home, but as of Jan. 23, he’s officially off the leash. The black lab has Guardians of Rescue, a Smithtown-based organization that works to provide aid to animals in distress, including facilitating foster programs, rehabilitation and assisting other rescue groups, to thank for his new-found freedom.

“We received a call about a dog in need of a doghouse,” Robert Misseri, founder and president of the group, said. “But when we got there, it was even worse than that. That’s when we discovered the poor dog had spent his whole life attached to a heavy chain. We knew then and there that we had to do something to make a difference in that dog’s life, and so we did.” The group said Bear had endured harsh winters with little attention.

The guardians said they spoke with the dog owner, who agreed to surrender the animal to the rescue group.

“It’s excellent,” Misseri said as Bear was cut free from the chains. “It’s nice to see the dog get off the chain after 15 years and live out the rest of its life with a nice older family, perhaps who will treat him right. He’ll lay around inside and have a good rest of his life.”

Bear was cut free, loaded into the front seat of a pickup and sent to the groomer. The group is currently searching for a permanent home for Bear.

The rescue group said its plan is to make Bear veggie burgers, take him to dog parks, on car rides and even get him into an indoor pool. The helpers also want to make sure he’s able to spend some time lying in front of a warm fireplace.

“Our mission is to help rescue as many animals as we can, but we can’t do it without the help of the community,” Misseri said. “One phone call from someone in the community set the wheels in motion that have changed Bear’s life. That’s a true success story and why we exist.”

Guardians of Rescue has a new show “The Guardians,” which airs on Animal Planet Saturdays at 10 p.m. The show depicts the work of the group as they travel Long Island rescuing animals and providing them with a better life.

The community can assist the group by watching out for animals in need and contacting the organization when they see one in distress. To learn more or get involved, visit www.guardiansofrescue.org.

Nunu wants a home outside the town animal shelter. Photo from Brookhaven Town

The town animal shelter is now open every day as part of an effort to get more dogs and cats adopted.

Supervisor Ed Romaine said the expanded hours would make it more convenient for people to visit the shelter in Brookhaven hamlet, which is located on Horseblock Road.

The Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is now open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-451-6950 or visit www.brookhaven.org/animalshelter.

Huntington Town celebrated fall this weekend at the annual Long Island Fall Festival. The event, free to the public, is organized by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and spans Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. Festivities include a carnival, food courts, entertainment, vendors, animals and more.

Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

Residents living in the Village of the Head of the Harbor are up in arms due to a public hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 16, that considered allowing deer hunting in the area.

Citizens in the community said they not only disagree with the proposal but they also have a problem with the way village hall handled alerting them on the issue.

“This is a huge concern to the residents,” Julie Korneffel, a Head of the Harbor resident, said in a phone interview. “This goes against the town, which should preserve the natural aspects of the woods.”

Korneffel said that the code written “seemed purposely vague,” and she was especially unhappy with how little notice she was given about this issue before it came to village hall.

“There is a big concern for transparency now,” Korneffel said. “When paving is going on or a bike marathon is going to be held, we receive an email notice. But for this extremely important issue there was no email notice.”

Mayor Douglas Dahlgard said he thinks village hall did all it could to let residents know what is happening.

“We followed the rules,” Dahlgard said in a phone interview. “We put notices in the paper and on our village website. We do not have the budget to send out info every week.”

Dahlgard put a letter on the village website after the public hearing, informing residents of the status of the issue and how the public hearing went. According to Dahlgard, the letter should be mailed to all residents by the end of this week.

The public hearing was meant to discuss amending the town code to allow for limited bow hunting for deer on certain properties.

Currently, Head of the Harbor village code doesn’t allow hunting unless you have the consent of the owner of the property you want to hunt on and have a hunting license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Hunting then can only happen during hunting season, and you cannot discharge a weapon within 500 feet of any house or farm structure.

Dahlgard said the village board is looking to involve the Head of the Harbor police to help monitor where and when hunting would take place. If this happens, aside from the DEC and the property owner’s approval, a hunter would also need approval from the police. The board of trustees is also looking into the minimal size a property would have to be in order to hunt there.

Dahlgard said he recognizes the concerns for safety people have due to the deer population.

“I am for protecting village residents from the overpopulation of deer,” Dahlgard said. “We know there are deer causing traffic accidents and devastating crops, as well as the issue of Lyme disease. We are looking into alternative options; we want to bring in all the info we possibly can on this issue.”

Although Dahlgard said he and the trustees are looking into alternatives, he does not believe village hall should be responsible for the costs. “It is complicated, because the costs of methods like contraception are very expensive,” he said.

In his letter to the public, Dahlgard updated residents on where the board plans to go from here.

He said he has asked the DEC to make a presentation on the deer situation on Long Island at the next public hearing, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. Deer fencing, birth control, culling and other methods will also be discussed, and the board will appoint a deer commission, consisting of volunteer residents, to address this problem and advise the board. It was also recognized in the letter that some residents felt code changes needed to be more specific.

But residents said they are still unhappy with how the issue has been handled.

John Lendino, a Head of the Harbor resident and deputy highway commissioner for Head of the Harbor, distributed letters to residents to let them know of the public hearing last week and urged them to go.

In the letter he said that at the Aug. 19 meeting the board of trustees made an announcement to have this code change drawn up by the village attorney and put to the hearing on Sept. 16. According to Lendino, when one of the two town residents who were in attendance opposed, saying residents weren’t warned and that there should be a larger input before this decision is put to hearing, the resident was dismissed and the vote went forward.

“It seems that this is being done to rush this law into passage in order to kill deer in the village immediately,” Lendino said. “I don’t see any benefits to this, it’s just going to endanger people’s lives. It’s dangerous, and it’s even more dangerous when you have a board like we have.”

Lee Stein, a Head of the Harbor resident, said the only reason she knew of the meeting was because of Lendino. Korneffel said the same.

“I don’t want anyone hunting on my property with any weapon,” Stein said. “They should be representing us as our board. I have grandchildren that play in the woods. There have to be safer ways to remedy the problem.”

Turn in dangerous or illegal animals at amnesty event

Brookhaven officials are urging residents to turn in endangered or dangerous animals on Oct. 10. Last year, people turned in alligators and marmosets. File photo

Residents can turn in any protected, endangered or threatened animals that require special New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits without fear of penalties or questioning on Saturday, Oct. 10.

Brookhaven Town’s second Amnesty Day at the Holtsville Ecology Center will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and people owning dangerous or illegals animals will be able to hand them over to trained professionals from the town, the DEC, the wildlife service and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The agencies will relocate animals turned in that cannot be kept at the ecology center.

“All too often people will harbor unlicensed or illegal pets without realizing the dangers they pose or the amount of care they require,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a press release. “This often leads to these animals being dumped by someone who once had it as a pet. An example of this is the 25-pound alligator snapping turtle that was recently found in the Nissequogue River in Smithtown.”

That turtle, a freshwater reptile that officials said had enough power to bite off a human finger or toe, was discovered in the stream opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25 in Smithtown in late August. It is not indigenous to Long Island — it is usually found in the region from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

At the Amnesty Day on Oct. 10, residents can “do the right thing for the safety of their neighbors and for the well-being of these animals,” Losquadro said.

Last year’s town event saw 25 animals turned in at the ecology center, including a western diamondback rattlesnake, a green anaconda, four boa constrictors, an American alligator and two marmosets. It was the most successful amnesty event the SPCA has ever had.

“The purpose of this effort is to get these illegally possessed animals into a controlled environment where they can be cared for properly,” SPCA Chief Roy Gross said. “People who are in possession of these animals unlawfully can turn them in to us without fear of prosecution. No one will be asked to give their name.”

The ecology center is located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville.

For more information, call the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722, NYSDEC at 631-444-0250 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 516-825-3950.

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Wilbur

By Ernestine Franco

In 2012, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its first annual Pet Adopt-A-Thon. More than 200 people attended and many animals found new, loving homes. Fast forward three years and the event is still going strong, fulfilling its goal of encouraging responsible pet ownership and providing a venue for local rescue groups to get animals adopted.

Max
Max

Don’t miss the 4th annual Sound Beach Civic Association Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Hartlin Inn parking lot, 30 New York Ave., Sound Beach, across from the Post Office.

Whether you’re looking to adopt, would like to support the great work of animal welfare groups, or just want to have a family-friendly fun day in Sound Beach, stop by.

The animal welfare groups participating in this event take unwanted, abandoned, abused, or stray animals and care for them until loving homes can be found. Some groups are bringing adoptable pets, and others will have information on adoptable pets as well as responsible pet care.

For the third year, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons adoption van will be there filled with cats and dogs looking for new homes. Also taking part will be the Adoption Center, Friends of Freddie, Grateful Greyhounds, Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Paws Unite People, Regina Quinn Legacy Fund, Save-A-Pet, and Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter. Miller Place Animal Hospital will offer a free exam for any forever friend adopted that day.

There will be lots of great raffle auction prizes — donations still being accepted — and a 50/50, with all proceeds going to the participating animal welfare groups. Bring your children for face painting by Jen Chiodo of Jen Chi Faces. Enjoy the music of Gina Mingoia and Sal Martone from 1 to 3 p.m. “They’re really talented,” said Bea Ruberto, president of the civic,” and we’re so grateful that, for the third year, they’re willing to take time away from their busy schedule to help make the day so special.”

And, of course, come and meet your new best friend. There’s a shelter cat or dog waiting to meet you.

Wilbur the tabby cat was rescued by Save-A-Pet after being run over by a car. He had a broken pelvis and is now afraid to move. He needs a caring friend to help him work through the pain. Also at Save-A-Pet, Malibu lived outside, chained, for the three years she has been on this planet. She has had several litters that all have been placed and now she needs a place to call home.

Blossom
Blossom

Guardians of Rescue, supporters of Save-A-Pet, rescued Max and Hera, the two gorgeous, sweet malamutes pictured on the right. The duo have bonded and the hope is that they can be adopted together.

Another duo who would like to be placed together are the mother and son pitbull team, Rory and Dean, who came to the Brookhaven Town Aniaml Shelter with a skin condition. They have been treated and are ready to be placed in a home. Blossom, a true “nanny dog” who loves everyone she meets, has lived at the town shelter for two years and now she too needs a loving home.

Also pictured are two adorable kittens rescued by Volunteers for Animal Welfare. They were found in dire need of veterinary care and a safe haven. Like so many others you’ll meet if you stop by, all they need is a forever home.

You’ll also meet some newly rescued greyhounds. As I write this, Grateful Greyhounds will be getting several of these gentle giants from the race track and then they will be vet-checked and evaluated. The oldest breed known to man, greyhounds are very docile, gentle and friendly.

Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information call 631-744-6952 and remember, Save A Life — Adopt A Pet.

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