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Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center

Left, David Ceely, executive director of the Huntington-based Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center. Right, John Di Leonardo, anthrozoologist and executive director of Humane Long Island. Left photo from Ceely; right from Di Leonardo

Animal shelters pose increasing challenges to shelter staff, policymakers and community members.

With limited budgets and staffing shortages, local shelters are becoming increasingly overwhelmed. In the face of these pressures, animal caregivers throughout the area are working to adapt to these circumstances.

Trends on the ground

David Ceely is the executive director of Huntington-based Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center, a nonprofit organization coordinating with and rescuing from municipal shelters throughout Long Island.

‘I think all shelters are very overwhelmed.’

— David Ceely

In an interview, Ceely highlighted the fundamental differences between nonprofit and municipal shelters, noting variations in financial structure and rules. Based on recent experiences on the ground, Ceely indicated that the number of animals admitted to shelters has generally increased since the pandemic.

“When we go out to these other shelters on Long Island, [New York] City and even across the country, we’re definitely seeing an influx of animals turned into shelters,” he said.

John Di Leonardo is an anthrozoologist and executive director of Humane Long Island. This nonprofit animal advocacy organization also specializes in nontraditional shelter animals such as chickens, turkeys and ducks.

Di Leonardo reported that the general trends “have remained pretty similar” from prior years. However, there has been “immense progress” in some areas. 

He cited recent state legislation barring the sale of kittens, puppies and rabbits in pet stores, suggesting that these trends signal progress for animal rescuers.

“Once that bill does take effect, and stores will only be able to sell rescued animals, I think that a huge burden will be lifted off of shelters in our area,” he said. “But until then, I think all shelters are very overwhelmed.” 

Contrasts in shelters

“Our job is to go out to the municipalities,” Ceely said. “They’re funded by government, and they have a different set of rules than we do, where if they run out of space, they may have to euthanize.”

He added, “Little Shelter doesn’t do that. … We don’t euthanize for space, and some of the municipalities may have to.”

Along with these differences in financial and administrative structures, Ceely suggested that the municipal and nonprofit shelters often further depart in their hiring and training practices.

“Unfortunately, with the town shelters, they don’t necessarily have a full-on training program for the directors that go in place there,” Ceely said. “They have to try to figure it out as they go, which gets really demanding, so I see a lot of turnover there.”

He added that the lack of training and turnover at a municipal shelter can lead to “concerned citizens.”

Di Leonardo added to this sentiment, noting the differences in qualification for shelter management positions at municipal and nonprofit shelters.

“A lot of times in municipal shelters, the positions may be union-based, or they may be patronage positions mixed in with a lot of people who actually have the animals’ interests at heart,” he said.

Despite some of the perceived downsides to the municipal hiring structure, Di Leonardo maintained that privatization presents a host of new challenges, such as closed admissions policies.

“When these shelters are privatized, they often become closed admission, which is a problem,” he said. “When you’re closed admission, you have to pick and choose which animals you take, whereas municipal shelters are typically open, and they have to take whatever animal comes to their door.”

Possible solutions

Di Leonardo outlined some steps locals can take to reduce the burden upon local animal shelters. He said the process can start with reorienting thinking around the sanctity of animal life.

‘Our animal care as a whole and our sheltering system is definitely a reflection of the values in a community.’

— John Di Leonardo

“Before surrendering an animal to a shelter, everyone should always make sure that they are exhausting every possible outcome to make sure they’re treating that animal like a family member and not just as a disposable birthday present,” he said. “Before anyone does get an animal for a holiday or a gift, they need to remember animals are not props.”

Ceely maintained that outreach initiatives could help alleviate pressures on both the municipal and nonprofit animal shelters on Long Island.

“Probably the best way [to enhance services] is to work on a lot of outreach to get the word out on social media and through word of mouth,” he said. “But also to have plenty of events at the facilities to try to promote adoptions.”

He added that lowering or eliminating the adoption fees for qualified adopters is “also a good idea.” In addition to these remedies, Ceely suggested a shift in focus among local officials and greater initiative by those directing the municipal shelters.

“There are a lot of other areas in the municipalities that are prioritized before the animals are,” the Little Shelter executive director said. “Oftentimes, if the animal shelter directors themselves are not speaking up, they might not get the attention or the funding that they deserve to run their shelters the right way.”

Ceely said residents can assist their local shelters by donating, volunteering, fostering and — above all — adopting.

“Most importantly, they can adopt — getting the animals into homes so that we can go out and rescue more,” he said.

For Di Leonardo, a community’s animal shelter system reflects its values. He recited a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, who once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

“Our animal care as a whole and our sheltering system is definitely a reflection of the values in a community,” the Humane Long Island executive director noted. “How we treat them and care for those who have the least rights in our community is a reflection on ourselves.”

Welcome to the 19th edition of Paw Prints, a monthly column for animal lovers dedicated to helping shelter pets find their furever home!



Meet Simon

This charming 9-year-old canine at Little Shelter in Huntington is eager to find his forever home. With a friendly and curious personality, he has been exploring various ways to attract his perfect family. His latest strategy involves an open invitation to “Adopt Simon Day” — and it just so happens that today is the day! Come down to the shelter to meet Simon today! 631-368-8770, ext. 21


Meet Maisy

This ten-year-old Maltese Mix always looks chic and stylish when she goes for a walk at Little Shelter in Huntington. She is the perfect guest for a tea party, as long as you provide pearls and petit fours! Maisy loves going for walks, learning new things, and staying engaged with her surroundings. Her friendly and outgoing personality make her a fan favorite at the kennels. Maisy possesses all the qualities of an ideal family member and is ready to find her forever home. Head to Little Shelter and discover this precious gem for yourself. 631-368-8770, ext. 21


Meet Orchard

This sweet girl was picked up as a stray by an animal control officer and brought to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter. Sadly, no one has come forward to claim her so she’s ready for a new start in a loving home.

Orchard is estimated to be between 6 to 8 years old and weighs approximately 55 pounds. She’s housebroken, crate trained, and knows some impressive commands like sit, down, stay, and paw but would like to be in a home with no cats. 

Orchard is an absolute sweetheart who loves wiggling her way into your heart. She’s happiest when she’s by your side or curled up at your feet. Her gentle and affectionate nature makes her the perfect companion. 

If you would like to meet this well-mannered couch potato, please fill out a Matchmaker application at Brookhavenny.gov/AnimalShelter. 631-451-6950

Amazing Grace

Meet Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is a short-haired calico adult currently up for adoption at Little Shelter in Huntington. She is a calm young lady, who does enjoy finding high spots for naps! Stop by and meet her today! 631-368-8770 ext. 36

Frenchy and Rizzo

Meet Frenchy & Rizzo

These sweet siblings were abandoned in cat carriers on the side of the Long Island Expressway on June 26. Rescuers brought these two young girls, estimated to be 1 1/2 years old, to the Smithtown Animal Shelter where they needed a little time to adjust. Now they are little balls of affection and love and are ready for their furever home. The shelter staff hopes to have them adopted together. 631-360-7575


Free rabies clinic

The Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, 300 Horseblock Road, Brookhaven will hold a free Rabies Clinic on Saturday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The clinic is open to all Town residents and offers free rabies vaccinations for all dogs, cats and ferrets and free cat/dog FVRCP or DAPPCV vaccine. Dogs must be on a leash. Cats and ferrets must be in a carrier. No appointment necessary. For more information, call 631-451-6950.

Check out the next Paw Prints in the issue of August 10.

Paw Prints is generously sponsored by Mark T. Freeley, Esq.


The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will be hosting seven Pop-Up Saturdays at the Stony Brook Village Center, 111 Main St., Stony Brook on Saturdays from July 9 to Aug. 20, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  This family friendly summer series will be filled with animals, magic, music, art and even Tai Chi. 

Pop-Up Saturdays are free to the public and except where noted, will take place in Stony Brook Village Center’s Inner Court (by the Rustic Loft and Crazy Beans). Rain dates are the following day. The events are sponsored by Edward Jones located at 97 Main Street in Stony Brook Village. 

On July 9, experience the Magic of Amore from 2 to 3 p.m., and meet kittens and cats from North Fork Country Kids Rescue Vixen from 2 to 4 p.m.

On July 16, Sweetbriar Nature Center of Smithtown will bring birds of prey and touchable animals from  2 to 3 p.m. and Silent Mind Tai Chi from 3 to 4 p.m. 

On July 23, Brenda and Burke will be performing original and cover songs in the genres of R&B, Roots, Blues and Contemporary Acoustic from 2 to 4 p.m. in front of the Stony Brook Post Office, and Silent Mind Tai Chi returns from 3 to 4 p.m. 

On July 30, Caricature artist Marty Macaluso (no rain date) will visit the village and draw caricatures of individuals and groups from 2 to 4 p.m. Silent Mind Tai Chi will also take place from 3 to 4 p.m.

On August 6, Sweetbriar Nature Center returns with birds of prey and animals to touch from 2  to 4 p.m., as well as Silent Mind Tai Chi from 3 to 4 p.m.

On August 13, enjoy storytelling and singing by Johnny Cuomo from 2 to 3 p.m. and enjoy the music of Burke and Brenda at the Stony Brook Post Office from 2pm to 4pm.

On August 20, the last pop-up Saturday, Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center will visit the center with adoptable dogs from 2 to 4 p.m. and the last Silent Mind Tai Chi class will take place from 3 to 4 p.m.

To learn more about Pop-Up Saturdays and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, call 631-751-2244.


Welcome to the fifth edition of Paw Prints, a monthly column for animal lovers dedicated to helping shelter pets find their furever home!




Meet Keesha

This adorable and sweet girl is Keesha. She was surrendered to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter because her family was no longer able to care for her. Keesha is a gentle soul who has to start over at the age of 10. She is as sweet as could be, she knows sit but is always checking out her surroundings to see who is available to get some pets from. She is looking for a family to love, a door to look out of and get her daily dose of sunshine and a bed to curl up in. She is a delight to walk, she is housebroken and would love the opportunity to show you what she is made of. She can be a little shy at first but then the happy go lucky girl comes out and she is giving kisses and looking for all of your attention. She would do best with kids over the age of 10, no dogs and she is fine with cats. Call 631-286-4940.


Meet Snowflake

Snowflake is a young adult, female, short-hair currently waiting at Little Shelter for her furever home. This patient, sweet girl that had been at the shelter since 2018. She gets overlooked because she likes to snuggle into cubbies. Laser toys are a great way to get her out and about! Call 631-368-8770.


Meet Chelsea

An eight-year-old Min Pin mix, this clever little lady is Chelsea, currently up for adoption at Little Shelter in Huntington. Subscribing to the adage that all you need is “a snack and a snuggle,” she’s the perfect one to share your couch with…and just about everything else! A breed that has been described as “tiny but mighty,” they have an outgoing personality and tenacious spirit. With her current mission being to find her forever home, Chelsea is ready to screen potential adopters, hoping to find her the perfect family. Energetic and self-possessed, she’s not about to let age slow her down. If you’re looking for a loyal, life-long friend with a good sense of humor, the search is over…just ask for Chelsea. Call 631-368-8770.


Meet Ophelia

“Hi, I’m Ofie from Kent Animal Shelter. It’s going to take a little while for you and me to become best friends and trust each other. But, I promise you that when we do, you will be showered with more love, affection and loyalty than you can imagine. There is nothing more that I love than hugs, kisses and belly rubs
just ask the kind people who work here at the shelter. But sometimes, new people make me nervous, and I get a little scared and I feel I need to protect myself because I am not sure yet who you are. You see, I came to America from the streets and meat markets of Thailand., and some people there were going to do really bad things to me. That’s why it may take a little while for you and me to become best friends
.but I promise it can happen if you give me a chance. Thank you for reading a little about me. I hope to see you soon. Oh and I love treats! Love, Ofie.” Ophelia needs to be the only pet in the house. Call 631-727-5731, ext. 1.


Jack Jack

Meet Jack Jack

“A dog so nice, he was named him twice!” Jack Jack, a 1.5-year-old Doxy mix, arrived at Little Shelter hoping for a second chance at happiness. Though nearly blind, he is quickly acclimating to his surroundings, sniffing out new friendships and hearing all the applause celebrating his progress. Playing with abandon despite his disability, he’ll teach you to grab life by the tail, take chances, and savor every moment. Smart, affectionate and loyal, Jack Jack is the perfect reminder that “a house is not a home without paw prints.” Stop by to meet him today! Call 631-368-8770.

Kitty Free-Fur-All

May is Kitty Free-Fur-All Month at the The Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, 300 Horseblock Road, Brookhaven. Fees will be waived for cat adoptions for the entire month. For more information, call 631-451-6955 or visit www.brookhavenny.gov/animalshelter

Check out the next Paw Prints in the issue of June 9.

Paw Prints is generously sponsored by Mark T. Freeley, Esq.


October may be known as the month of pumpkin-flavored everything, apple-picking, fall foliage, and haunted houses but it’s also Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, a rescue initiative started by the American Humane Society in 1981 to help the estimated 3 to 4 million animals waiting in shelters every year get the loving, forever homes that they deserve.

Be a hero this month and adopt a dog from your local shelter or rescue group. You’ll be saving his or her life and greatly improving your own as dogs are amazing, supportive and heroic companions. Kent Animal Shelter, Little Shelter, Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue & Adoption Center and the Smithtown Animal Shelter have many adoptable dogs waiting for a loving home.

Click on the photos above for adoptable dogs at:

Kent Animal Shelter, 2259 River Road, Calverton

Call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshtler.com

Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center, 33 Warner Road, Huntington

Call 631-368-8770 or visit www.littleshelter.org

Save-A-Pet Rescue & Adoption Center, 608 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station

Call 631-473-6333 or visit www.saveapetusa.org

Smithtown Animal Shelter & Adoption Center, 410 East Main Street, Smithtown

Call 631-360-7575 or visit www.townofsmithtownanimalshelter.com



Old dogs have something to wag about this summer, as The Grey Muzzle Organization announces the recipients of its annual grants, and dogs at Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Huntington are among the winners.

Little Shelter is one of 77 animal welfare groups chosen from 266 applicants to receive a grant to help local senior dogs.  The winning groups received more than $616,000 in grants to help save or improve the lives of at-risk old dogs in their communities.

“This grant will help us give senior dogs like 13-year-old Muppet the veterinary and dental care he needs so he’ll be ready to go to his forever home,” said David Ceely of Little Shelter. “No one is more grateful or loving than an old dog, and we’re looking forward to helping more senior dogs get the second chance they all deserve.”

Over the past 13 years, the national nonprofit Grey Muzzle Organization has provided $3.1 million in grants to support its vision of “a world where no old dog dies alone and afraid.”

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’re delighted to help deserving organizations like Little Shelter make a difference in the lives of dogs and people in their communities,” Grey Muzzle’s Executive Director Lisa Lunghofer said. “Many senior dogs on Long Island are enjoying their golden years in loving homes thanks to the wonderful work of Little Shelter.”

Little Shelter is a non-profit no-kill animal shelter located at33 Warner Road in Huntington and has been dedicated to saving abandoned dogs and cats and placing them in loving homes since 1927. Age, physical condition, and socialization issues are never criteria for rescuing a dog or cat whose life is in jeopardy.https://www.littleshelter.org/

The national nonprofit The Grey Muzzle Organization improves the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other nonprofit groups nationwide. For details, please visit https://www.greymuzzle.org/

For more information, please visit https://www.littleshelter.org/ or call 631-368-8770 x 21


The fate of the cats at Huntington’s animal shelter is still unknown as the facility reaches capacity. To adopt animals contact the shelter at 631-368-8770. Photo by Little Shelter Animal Rescue

On May 22 the people at Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center rescued more than 20 abandoned cats living in squalor in an unidentified Centerport home. Neighbors and the new property owner called the shelter after the previous residents were evicted. 

David Ceely, executive director of Little Shelter, which manages the Huntington shelter, said the situation was initially too much for its responder to handle.  

“This is not a daily occurrence,” he said. “We typically get calls about a couple of animals abandoned not usually something this large.”

After Ceely entered the house with trappers, the cats scattered. Authorities identified extreme living conditions, while trying to catch the animals. They found rooms fouled with old, soiled newspaper in litter boxes and empty food and water bowls. The cats were forced to escape through a broken basement window in search of food and water. 

The state of the house when Ceely entered it. Photo by Little Shelter Animal Rescue

Ceely also noticed that a stove top burner had been left on. 

“Cats love to move around and jump on things, that gas burner had to have been running for weeks, not only is that danger but this could have ended a lot worse than it did,” he said. 

The captured cats will be vaccinated, spayed or neutered and fit with a microchip. 

Ceely said some of the cats were put up for adoption last weekend. The rest need to be evaluated to make sure they are ready for a new home. 

“The biggest way to help us is to adopt and donate to help offset the medical cost,” Ceely said. 

The executive director said the facility has too many cats that need homes. They hope people adopt the animals, since the facility is maxed out on its capacity. 

For more information on the shelter, call 631-368-8770 or visit www.littleshelter.com.

Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center hosts 18th annual Pet-A-Palooza

The Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington held its 18th annual Pet-A-Palooza event over the weekend, featuring cats, dogs, a Chinese auction, live entertainment, face-painting and more. The weekend-long event at the Warner Road shelter is a celebration of all things furry and friendly.