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Pam Green

From left, Eileen Striese, Linda MacDonald and Pam Green. Photo by Heidi Sutton

In 1969, the Kent Animal Shelter opened its doors in Calverton to Long Island animals with nowhere to call home. From their first day of operation, Kent was a no-kill shelter, providing a safe space for healthy animals to find homes and treatable sick or injured animals a place to recover.

The private, nonprofit shelter was founded by a small group of humanitarians with a deep compassion for animals. The shelter was small and not well known outside the local community, and for several decades they struggled to avoid financial problems. The animal population was minimal and the staff didn’t have an executive director, either. In 1985, they hired Pamela Green for the job in a last-ditch effort to rejuvenate.

“I love being a part of the work we do, which ultimately helps both people and animals.”

— Linda MacDonald

Green, who went to college for pre-veterinary studies, grew up in a family that always encouraged compassion for animals. At home, they raised horses, chickens and ducks, among others. “It was always my intention to work with animals. They can’t speak for themselves so they need people to help them,” she said.

Under Green’s direction, Kent Animal Shelter has flourished. They now facilitate adoptions for nearly 700 dogs and cats every year, and are expecting to surpass that number by the end of 2019.

Included in the adoptions are a population of animals rescued from other places in the United States and even around the world.

“We have rescue partners around the country as well as internationally. Every 10 to 14 days, we do rescue transports from high-kill shelters in places that don’t place a lot of priority on adoption programs,” Green explained. “For many of the animals in those areas, there aren’t a lot of ways out of the shelter. We rescue them, bring them up here for medical care, vaccines and spaying or neutering, and then adopt them out.”

Many of the rescues Kent performs are in the South, where animals can become victims of homelessness or injury following natural disasters like hurricanes or floods. Some rescue dogs are flown to the United States from other countries where dog meat is consumed. Around 25 animals are rescued per trip, the majority of which are dogs because of Long Island’s ongoing problem with cat overpopulation.

One of the shelter’s biggest draws is their spay and neuter program. Two veterinarians work four days a week to spay and neuter local pets. Approximately 3,500 animals are spayed or neutered each year, Green said.

Pam Green with Mason

“Spaying and neutering is so important because if it’s left unchecked, a huge number of animals will be left without homes. You see this in areas of the country where spay and neuter programs aren’t as much of a priority. It leads to overbreeding and overpopulation.”

It takes a lot of work to keep the busy shelter running, and a regular staff of 22 makes it happen, along with volunteers who walk dogs, play with cats, and work fundraisers.

Office manager Linda MacDonald has been involved with animal care and rescue in various capacities for more than 20 years. These days, she keeps the business side of the shelter running smoothly while also helping to facilitate adoptions and surrenders.

“I love being a part of the work we do, which ultimately helps both people and animals,” MacDonald said. “I get to know the animals we have here very well, and it helps me to counsel customers on the right type of animal or breed for their lifestyle. We’re always looking to change and grow, whether it’s growing our social media presence, expanding our kennels or working with a trainer to help our customers introduce a pet to their home. A positive experience when a pet goes home can affect how they behave the rest of their lives.”

Eileen Striese of Bellport visited Kent for the first time 15 years ago. She had lost a dog a few years before and was eager to bring home a new pet. Her husband suggested they try Kent, and not long after, they welcomed home a black and white shih tzu named Lily.

Years later, as Striese approached retirement, she began to think about what she might do next. “I always knew that I wanted to volunteer and give back in some way,” she explained. “I love animals, but I had never worked with them before. So I went to the shelter and asked how I could get involved.”

Soon, Striese was walking dogs and socializing with the animals at Kent. She was also one of the volunteers responsible for transporting dogs to a local Petco for adoption.

“They warned me that I might fall in love with one of them, and there was a white bichon poodle mix that would just fall asleep in my arms. The bond formed instantly,” she recalled. “A few months later I brought him home. We renamed him Rocky.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine with Pam Green, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter and her dog, Frodo. Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine has a long-standing connection to the shelter that began when he adopted his first family dog in the 1970s. Since then, his family has gone on to raise two poodles who are now elderly. 

“I thought that these two dogs were going to be the last for us, but sometimes life throws you a curveball,” Romaine said. “My wife was diagnosed with cancer, and she said to me at the time, ‘If I make it through this, I want to get a dog.’”

In March 2018, the Romaines welcomed a white bichon poodle mix into their family. Appropriately, they named him Lucky.

“They say you can judge a person by the way they treat animals — I’ve known Pam Green for a long time, and she’s a very special person who is so enthusiastic about her career,” he said. “The work Kent does for the community is incredible, and so important. It sets the shelter apart.”

Kent Animal Shelter’s funding is donor-based, and while most donations come from private donors, other funds come from foundations including the ASPCA and PetSmart. The shelter also holds several fundraising events throughout the year, all of them focused on having fun. In the past, they’ve held comedy nights, psychic readings, dog walking events, and recently celebrated its golden anniversary with a dinner/dance fundraiser at Stonewalls Restaurant in Riverhead.

At the end of the day, it’s all about doing as much good as they can, said Green. The shelter is looking to update and expand its facilities in the future to reach even more animals in need.

“It’s very rewarding work, but it’s also difficult and sometimes disheartening. The reward is to see an animal taken out of a terrible situation and have its life saved. To see them go to a loving home makes it all worth the effort,” she said.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Rd, Calverton, and is open seven days a week. To learn more about the shelter or to find your perfect pet, visit www.kentanimalshelter.com or call 631-727-5731.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine with Pam Green, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter and her dog, Frodo. Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) awarded a proclamation to Kent Animal Shelter on Oct. 15 citing its 50 years of dedicated work for the betterment of animal welfare. 

Long recognized for being a small shelter doing monumental work, the Kent Animal Shelter has operated since its incorporation in 1969 as an organization dedicated to helping homeless animals. Since its beginning in its humble space along the scenic Peconic River in Calverton, the shelter has given refuge to over 35,000 homeless animals. 

A humane bedrock in East End communities, it gradually extended its reach throughout Long Island and the tri-state area and now rescues and rehabilitates abandoned, abused and homeless animals throughout the U.S. and neighboring countries especially during crisis situations. 

Programs include rescue, adoption, low-cost spay/neuter and humane education. To date, over 50,000 animals have been spayed or neutered to help control animal overpopulation. Over the years, plans to expand the shelter have been blocked by town and government regulatory agencies due to zoning and restrictions within the Pine Barrens. 

“Our efforts will not be thwarted, and the shelter fully intends to rebuild its facility on its current footprint. We are grateful to Ed Romaine and the Town of Brookhaven for recognizing and always supporting the vital efforts of the shelter to make a difference in the lives of companion animals,” said Pam Green, executive director at Kent. 

Kent Animal Shelter is a 501(c)(3) organization, no-kill that operates solely on the generosity of individuals and foundations. For more information, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

‘Fall Day at Stony Brook Harbor’

By Melissa Arnold

Susan Trawick of Setauket devoted more than 20 years to helping Sachem East High School students develop their art skills. All the while, she continued to create her own artwork, primarily in watercolors and oil.

Following her retirement from teaching in 2008, Trawick sought to keep her art skills sharp and maybe even make some new friends. She joined several local art classes, including one taught by her neighbor Mary Jane van Zeijts, owner of Studio 268 on Main Street in Setauket.

‘West Meadow Gates’

Van Zeijts taught Trawick how to use a set of pastels she received from friends as a gift, and she immediately fell in love. “Pastels are definitely my new favorite medium to work with,” Trawick said in a recent interview. “The colors are so vibrant and intense.”

Van Zeijts was so impressed with Trawick’s skills that she invited her to create an art exhibit for the studio. That show, aptly titled Land and Sea Pastel Images, will open on March 24.

Trawick’s passion for art is hereditary, she said — her father loved to draw, and she picked up the hobby in early childhood. She married young and was a stay-at-home mother before attending Dowling College for a bachelor’s degree in fine art and Stony Brook University for a master’s in education. Without hesitation, she cites impressionists as her favorite artists, including Vincent van Gogh, Andrew Wyeth and Joseph Reboli.

While Trawick’s work has appeared throughout the area in various exhibits, this show is the first she’s done solo. It will be almost entirely comprised of pastel art, with one watercolor and one oil painting to give a taste of her other skills.

“Setauket is the best place for an artist to live — the landscapes are so beautiful,” Trawick said. “I love the water, the wetlands, the trees, even the little hills here on the North Shore that the South Shore doesn’t have.”

‘Hidden Stream’

Trawick explained that inspiration for a new piece will strike as she’s out driving or enjoying time outside, especially in the light of early morning or at sunset. When she sees something she wants to paint, she’ll take photos to preserve the memory for later. She also enjoys occasional plein air painting. 

Trawick will display more than 30 pieces of varied sizes at the show. Most pieces feature recognizable Long Island scenes, while others show off the beauty of Central Park, Yellowstone National Park and Higgins Beach in Maine, all with brilliant color.

“Susan is an incredibly strong, skilled and prolific artist,” van Zeijts said. “She has used and taught other mediums, but she is so expressive with pastels. It speaks of who she is. We can all relate to her work because a lot of it is local. You can see a picture of Maine and acknowledge it as beautiful, but her Long Island work will be recognizable and enjoyable for people from this area.”

Every piece at Trawick’s show is for sale, with paintings ranging from $50 to $850 and prints for less than $10. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the show will benefit Kent Animal Shelter, a no-kill nonprofit haven for dogs and cats in Calverton, where Trawick has served as a board member for 32 years. Her two dogs and “too many” cats at home are all rescues.

The shelter also offers low-cost and sometimes free spay/neuter services for more than 3,500 animals each year. This critical work helps address excessive breeding, overpopulation and animals left homeless.

“I’ve seen so much suffering of animals in my time doing work with the shelter, so I want to do anything I can to alleviate that suffering,” said Trawick.

Reached by phone, Pam Green, executive director of the shelter, said that Trawick is the quintessential animal lover. “Susan is so devoted and has done a lot of work with helping support our spay/neuter efforts in the area. She also provides a lot of advice for people that come across homeless or sick animals,” Green said.

Studio 268, located at 268 Main St., Setauket will present Land and Sea Pastel Images from March 24 to April 14. The studio is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Join the artist for an opening reception on March 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call 631-220-4529.

A WAVE OF SUPPORT

For the second year in a row, Splish Splash Water Park in Riverhead held a Doggie Splash Day fundraiser to raise money to help the homeless animals at the Kent Animal Shelter. The event, which was held on Sept. 10, was dedicated to K-9 fun when pet owners brought their dogs to the park for some water fun of their own and raised $2,500 for the Calverton shelter. “This awesome gift from our pet loving friends at Splish Splash will help to provide food, medical care and spay/neuter to the more than 30 animals that were rescued and brought to the shelter after Hurricane Florence,” said Director Pam Green, pictured in photo on the left with Splish Splash sales manager Claire Smith.

Pam Green with Mason

By Heidi Sutton

Amid mandatory evacuation orders in the Carolinas and Virginia in advance of Hurricane Florence, many fleeing residents left their pets behind to fend for themselves. For those pets lucky enough to be rescued, they were brought to area shelters already full to capacity. When news spread the animals would start being
euthanized if no one adopted them, Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton quickly joined other outreach groups to make a difference.

Working in conjunction with Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, the shelter took in 12 dogs two weeks ago. “We then sent our own truck down to South Carolina and when they came back last Monday night they had 17 more,” said Pamela Green, Kent’s executive director.

The most recent group of dogs came from South Carolina’s Marlboro and Horry counties, two of the hardest hit areas devastated by flooding. “Those counties were still pretty much under water as recent as last Tuesday so those dogs were from people who lost their homes and relinquished the animals,” Green said. “The people probably don’t have places to live themselves at this point.” 

The new arrivals range in age from 9 weeks to 4 years and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The executive director said there are hound mixes “which are common in the South” as well as Labrador mixes and a few Chihuahuas. While many have already been adopted, all the dogs will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before going to their new homes.

Shelters in areas ravaged by Hurricane Florence announced earlier this week that they are temporarily halting the transport of animals to give residents more time to reclaim their dogs. For the staff at Kent, however, this is only a short reprieve as they are expecting 10 dogs to arrive Sunday from a Missouri puppy mill.

According to Green, the shelter is always looking for foster homes. “Sometimes the animals we get in are a bit traumatized. In the case of the hurricane, they’ve already been exposed to some trauma so then they are transported a very long way and by the time they get here they’re pretty scared or nervous,” she said, adding, “Those animals usually come around more quickly in a foster home.”

Financial donations and supplies such as canned cat and dog food, paper towels, bleach, cat litter, treats, towels and blankets are also appreciated.

Kent Animal Shelter celebrates its golden anniversary this year. The private not-for-profit, located along the Peconic River, opened its doors in 1968. It rescues and finds homes for over 700 dogs and cats each year. “We had almost 100 adoptions this July alone,” said Green proudly, who has been at the helm of the no-kill facility for over 30 years. 

Several events have been planned to commemorate the anniversary including the upcoming Wines and Canines Run/Walk fundraiser at the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard in Calverton Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person at www.kentanimalshelter.com. 

For Green, working at the shelter is a labor of love filled with rewards and happy endings. “I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I still come to the same office because I feel that we are really making a difference here. Maybe we’re not going to save all the animals, but just saving the ones that we can get to changes their lives and changes the lives of people too,” she said. “I still get so much joy out of seeing an animal leave the shelter and go to a new home. It’s the greatest thing – it makes my day.”

Pam Green, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter. Photo from Kent Animal Shelter

By Heidi Sutton

Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton has been a haven for shelter pets for almost half a century. In 2016, under the helm of Executive Director Pam Green, the shelter placed a record-breaking 1,016 animals in new homes and recently received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. The Stony Brook resident recently took some time out of her busy schedule to talk about the shelter that has been her passion for 32 years.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, I have only a few pets. One small dog that accompanies me to work every day, Frodo; he is a puppy mill rescue that came to Kent in 2012; two cats, Wilson and Nellie, that were the offspring of a feral cat; and I added an equine to the mix in 2009, Ascot.

Pam Green

Did you have any pets growing up?

Yes, I came from a family of animal lovers, most notably my mother and father who had great love and compassion for all animals. We were always bringing some critter into our home including dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, a duck named Sam, a pony named Inca and a horse named Willy. If it needed a home, our doors were always open.

Did you always know that you wanted to work with animals?

Yes, as a young high school student my intention was to pursue a career in animal welfare, perhaps veterinary medicine.

How did you arrive at Kent?

I arrived at the Kent Animal Shelter in 1985. My intention was to continue my postgraduate education at the University of Kentucky. That did not seem to be in the cards as I responded to an advertisement for an executive director at the Kent Animal Shelter, a little-known animal shelter located on the east end of Long Island.

The organization was in dire straits financially at the time. There were very few animals, the spay/neuter clinic was closed and there were only two employees. I was introduced and interviewed by a volunteer board of directors, 13 members. In retrospect I believe they had their sights set on a candidate who they felt had the potential to lead and the background knowledge to help the shelter emerge from a critical situation. I decided to make re-opening the spay/neuter clinic a priority and went forth with that effort.

There was only a small list of donors actually hand written in a book, and so I began to write letters telling of the shelter’s plight and asking them to help. Donations slowly began to come in, and the list began to grow. We started taking animals from local municipal shelters that in those days also had a fairly high rate of euthanasia. The clinic didn’t take very long to get back into the full swing of things.

Today the shelter is financially secure and rescues animals from crisis situations across the country and sometimes internationally as well. The mission is the same as it was in 1968; however, the depth and breadth of the operation has grown enormously over the years. It still remains a smaller, personal organization. However, in 2009 it was honored as Shelter of the Year by North Shore Animal League and Purina for its innovative approach to adoption, rescue and population control.

Tell us about Kent’s spay/neuter clinic.

Last year 3,928 animals were spayed or neutered. The clinic is low cost to enable everyone to have their pets sterilized. Many pet owners cannot afford the service, and their pets are left to add to the overpopulation of homeless animals. Kent throughout the year receives grants from foundations such as PetSmart Charities and Pet Peeves Inc. and the ASPCA. These grants allow the clinic to perform these surgical procedures for just a $20 co-pay or in some cases not fee at all to the pet owner. The clinic, with the help of an ASPCA grant, is embarking on a campaign to help pet owners on public assistance or suffering from disabilities or financial hardship to have their pet spayed or neutered also for a minimal co-pay. Pet owners that would like to get more information can call the clinic at 631-727-5731, ext. 2.

I understand you took in homeless animals from Hurricane Harvey?

The shelter has taken in many rescues from Texas and the Carolinas previous to Hurricane Harvey. Unfortunately, the shelters there have high kill rates and are lacking in aggressive spay/neuter programs. However, the storms presenting this year are wreaking havoc in many places, notably Houston. The shelter was prepared to accept 15 animals from Austin Pets Alive, an organization working with animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Only six animals arrived on the recent transport, but more are scheduled to come in the ensuing weeks.

Why should people adopt a shelter pet rather than buy a dog from a pet store or breeder?

Potential adopters should elect first to adopt, not shop. Pet stores obtain their animals from puppy mills located in many places in the U.S., most notably Missouri. The public is often unaware of that fact and are finding that when they purchase a pet from a pet store, they are setting themselves up for getting a pet with congenital defects such as heart murmurs and/or diseases that present after the purchase. There are reputable breeders, however; those breeders do not sell their puppies to retail pet shops. There are many rescue organizations and shelters that have beautiful pets that have been vetted and neutered.

Tell us about your upcoming fundraiser.

On Sunday, Oct. 1 we will be holding our 5th annual Wines & Canines Run/Walk fundraiser. It is widely successful and takes place at Baiting Hollow Vineyard and Horse Rescue on Sound Avenue. This year, the proceeds will go to finance expenses incurred due to intake of rescued animals from hurricane ravaged states. The shelter also hosts a comedy night at the Hotel Indigo in Riverhead every year in the spring.

What’s next on the agenda?

We have hopefully found a perfect location for the construction of new kennel facility along with exercise pens, interaction rooms to acquaint potential adopters with a new pet, grooming room, storage etc. Over the next year, the board of directors and myself will be in negotiations with the Town of Riverhead to secure the needed permits. It is my goal to finalize everything and go forward in the planning and construction of the new building next year, which is a huge milestone for this organization, the 50th anniversary of helping homeless animals! The present facility will be kept intact minus the antiquated kennel building. That will also allow the shelter to restore the beautiful riverfront behind the kennel to its original state.

How can the public help?

Donations of blankets, towels, newspapers and money are all needed along with volunteers. There is an Amazon Wish List on Kent’s website, www.kentanimalshelter.com. We encourage anyone who wants to donate to take a look at the list and choose any items that they would like to send or bring to the shelter.