By Serena Carpino
For the first time since 2019, the Huntington-based Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center held its Pet-A-Palooza event on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19 and 20.
This fundraising and adoption event promotes the nonprofit organization, whose staff members and volunteers rescue and find homes for cats and dogs. The shelter was created in 1927 as the first humane animal shelter on Long Island and recently celebrated its 96th anniversary.
One of Little Shelter’s goals is to reduce euthanasia rates. As a private, nonprofit and no-kill shelter, Little Shelter can rescue animals from government-owned facilities that may be forced to euthanize their animals. The shelter receives animals from around the country. “I’m sure we’re gonna get some [animals] from Hawaii,” because of the recent wildfires, said shelter volunteer Terry Warwick.
Another aspect of its mission is to end overpopulation through its 100% spay/neuter program. A veterinarian on staff at Little Shelter can perform this procedure, and the shelter is also partnered with several veterinary clinics on Long Island to assist with the program.
By holding several events throughout the year, staff and volunteers of the shelter can showcase the animals for those interested in adopting. In particular, the Pet-A-Palooza has been successful in guaranteeing adoptions.
By Saturday morning, there were already eight dogs on hold for adoption and “usually by the end of the weekend, [we hope] to get 75 animals” adopted, said David Ceely, the executive director of Little Shelter.
Pet-A -Palooza is not only an opportunity for many animals to be adopted. It gives people insight into the shelter’s operations. According to Ceely, “a lot of adopters that come in here and people that come in for our raffles … their word of mouth is extremely helpful because they’ll come in and say, ‘Oh look at this wonderful dog or this wonderful cat that I adopted’” and “it really helps … to get the word out about Little Shelter.”
If a dog is not adoptable for various reasons, it can be sent to the Little Shelter Sanctuary in upstate New York. “What separates us from the other shelters … is that we’ve got our sanctuary upstate, which has homelike settings,” Ceely noted. “All of the dogs have their own rooms.”
At the 110-acre sanctuary, all of the dogs also have their own televisions, couches and more.
Little Shelter has also partnered with several groups that focus on specific types of animals. One such organization is Parker’s House, whose employees and volunteers raise awareness about the dangers of merle-to-merle breeding.
“Merle is a coat color,” Kimberly Mockley, an employee at Parker’s House, explained. There’s “blue merle, which has the gray, white and black mix. There’s also red merle, which is like copper and tan mixing,” adding that when “you breed a male and a female merle-to-merle, 25% [of their offspring] are born mostly white, deaf and blind.”
Parker’s House has held adoption events, but is currently focused on educating the public.
Representatives from the Town of Huntington Cat Shelter, operated by Little Shelter, were also at the event to showcase many of their cats up for adoption. They are currently caring for around 300 cats. As of Saturday morning, there were already two cats up for adoption, and staff members hoped to have many more adopted by the end of the weekend.
While much of the money from the Pet-A-Palooza will go to supplies for the animals, some of it will also go toward remodeling the shelter’s buildings.
“We’re planning to do a big renovation within the next few years, and we just started to mount a capital campaign,” Ceely said. “This facility will be completely torn down and rebuilt.”
The shelter has been working out of the same buildings since 1927, and staff members want to make it more environmentally and functionally friendly. “We’ve got big plans,” Ceely said.