By Colm Ashe
This Saturday, Aug. 20, the Smithtown Animal Shelter will host an event to commemorate Homeless Animals Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of domestic animals that suffer from neglect and abuse every year. The day of awareness was introduced by the International Society of Animal Rights in 1992 and, according to Smithtown Animal Shelter volunteer Michele DeSanti, was officially recognized in Smithtown “over 10 years ago.” This is the first year that Smithtown Animal Shelter has organized an event centered around the day. DeSanti and the dedicated team at the shelter plan to celebrate this day in a “big way from this year on forward.”
The goal of the event is simple: find loving homes for the pets who were rescued from the darkest corners of Smithtown and given a second chance at life. Considering the conditions some of these animals were put through, the shelter might even be considered their first chance at life.
For animals like Sammi, the nervous Cane Corso, Smithtown’s homey facility is paradise compared to the cage she was locked in for the first 5 years of her tortured life. Sammi was saved from a hoarding situation where 46 other dogs suffered under the ownership of neglectful breeders. When the volunteers rescued her last February, she was skin and bones and frightened even by a garbage can. Though her fur has regained its luster and her body has gained some healthy weight, the trauma lingers on inside her heavy eyes.
Beside Sammi, the shelter is home to 10 more dogs such as Dinah, the energetic bull terrier blend who would be perfect for an athletic family, and the lovable Tank, a beautiful, stocky pit bull whose playful personality would be a great fit for a family with kids. There is also a cat sanctuary, full of approximately 30 rescued cats, and about 30 kittens roaming free and playing all day. The list of wonderful animals is extensive, and the shelter hopes to shorten that list at its event on Saturday.
The festivities kick off at 11 a.m., when Pastor Kathleen Kufs, a modern interfaith minister, will open the ceremony with a blessing for the animals in the shelter, as well as other companion animals in the community.
“We encourage all Smithtown residents and beyond to bring your companion animals to the shelter to be blessed. We think it is a fitting way to kick off Homeless Animals Day,” DeSanti said.
At 1:30 p.m. Peter Borchelt, a certified applies animal behavior consultant based in Brooklyn, will give a talk about dog aggression, teaching pet owners how to predict and prevent it. Borchelt will also present an interactive learning experience by answering questions and engaging the audience. From 3 to 4 p.m., Charlene Sorrentino, dog trainer, canine behaviorist and founder of The Dog Chick, will provide the audience with some essential knowledge regarding how to give a shelter dog the life it needs. Sorrentino works with several other rescues on Long Island and has built a reputation as a mentor for trainers in the area.
Finally, from 4 to 6 p.m., renowned psychic Jim Fargiano will offer group readings for up to 20 pet owners. Fargiano is a medium and a healer famous for his ability to communicate with both dogs and humans that have passed. In addition, the day will feature live music, kids activities, vendors, food and a visit by a wildlife rescue organization, the STAR Foundation.
Though the event is jam-packed with exciting features, International Homeless Animals Day is not successful if it doesn’t end with adopted animals. People like Jim McCourt, the proud guardian of a rescue dog, are urging others to answer the call for compassion. McCourt said people will “never know the gratitude of a rescued animal until [they] rescue [one themselves].”
The Smithtown Animal Shelter is located at 410 East Main St. in Smithtown. For more information, please call 631-360-7575.