Best Friends transport relieves Sandy-related shelter crowding as nor’easter hits region

In our previous post, we indicated that our first transport of shelter animals impacted by Hurricane Sandy would be from NYCACC. While we are still working with that agency to navigate technicalities related to moving their animals across state lines, our first transport was, in fact, from the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter on Long Island, which is experiencing severe overcrowding due to pets displaced by Sandy. We also moved several at-risk dogs from two New Jersey shelters.


Of all the dogs and cats who were loaded up for their transport out of the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, none thrilled their shelter staff more than watching Lexus, a Rottweiler mix abandoned by her family and turned in to the shelter by their landlord, and Ebony, a senior black cat who came in with about 100 other cats from a hoarding situation, getting ready to find their future as cherished family members.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Best Friends Animal Society has boots on the ground, helping out with transports such as this one, distributing in-kind donations, and also offering micro-grants to organizations that need help to rebuild and restock all that was lost to keep their charges safe and healthy. No More Homeless Pets Network micro-grants are helping shelters like Road Runner Rescue in Maryland replenish their animal medical supplies, with $1,200 going directly into their coffers to make a difference now.

Going their way
To beat the forecasted arrival of torrential rain and 65 mile-per-hour winds, John Garcia and Ethan Gurney arrived at the Hempstead shelter at first light to load animals. Best Friends volunteers and shelter staff had been on the job since 5 am to prepare the animals for the trip to New England, securing them in properly marked carriers, making sure all their paperwork and destinations were in order. Working against the clock as the latest nor’easter was gaining momentum, the whole operation couldn’t have been tighter. The animals are going to organizations, many of them No More Homeless Pets Network partners, in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, upstate New York and Vermont.

Stacie Dabolt, assistant director for the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, marveled at the fact that there was an organization helping their homeless pets to find the loving forever homes they deserve in the face of such a disaster. “We were fortunate that we didn’t have any structural damage done by Hurricane Sandy, but we lost power and while we are still running off generators, we don’t have heat or proper circulation,” shares Stacie. “Our biggest problem is keeping our animals warm, and we are so grateful that Best Friends has enabled us to move 41 cats out of our shelter.”

She says the transport will not only help those animals but will also free up much-needed space for the flood of animals coming in. “We are taking in animals from streets, owner surrenders, and we’re also assisting people that have no place to go by housing their pets until they can get situated. This transport is helping us tremendously and by Best Friends doing the entire transport, we are able to keep our animal control officers in the area where they are needed, handing out food, answering emergency calls, rather than out doing a leg or two of a transport.”

Teamwork with a smile

Lexus before transportThe kindness of our volunteers and staff radiated feelings of lifesaving camaraderie even in the brisk morning air. Shari Polen, rescue coordinator for the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, enthuses, “Jamie Lyn Rubin (Best Friends New York programs manager) followed through in helping us when we needed it most. When we got the call on Tuesday, myself and Wendy Cariello were at the shelter and she asked us how many animals we needed to move. To see a dog like Lexus, who has been in the shelter awhile, get out today was just so exciting. She’s been overlooked time and time again by potential adopters, and she’ll have an increased potential for her happily-ever-after at a new venue. We’re ecstatic.”

“Best Friends staff and dedicated volunteers are far different than any other organization; they are so generous, professional and positive. After they were finished loading this morning, all of our cat kennels were empty. That’s a tremendous feeling.” The shelter’s response to circumstances imposed by Sandy and a rapid influx of storm-displaced animals would have put the squeeze on Lexus and Ebony.

Shari also mentioned that they were in need of medium-sized carriers. When he heard that, John Garcia, Best Friend emergency response manager, replied without hesitation, “Take what you need.” Shari says, “We think the world of Best Friends, from the wonderful volunteers who are always so supportive to the staff who are committed to saving lives and sharing resources. It is wonderful to be part of a bigger community working toward a common goal.”

John says, “Overall, this transport went so smoothly. The Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter staff and volunteers were so polished; we had all the animals loaded up and we were on the road before sunrise. All in all, it was an extremely happy day and it gives us all such a sense of pride in knowing we are helping animals get out of the storm, in addition to seeing such great groups working together to get animals into homes.”

Lexus was dropped off at our receiving partner, Windham County Humane Society in Vermont, as the storm ramped up. All of the 51 animals from this transport are now snug as a bug in a rug, thanks to the amazing teamwork of caring individuals and organizations.

How you can help

Help the animals of the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter by adopting, volunteering or donating.

Support the organizations that helped the pets in need:
Central Vermont Humane Society, Montpelier, Vermont
Windham County Humane Society, Brattleboro, Vermont
Homeward Bound, Middlebury, Vermont
Sullivan County Humane Society, Claremont, New Hampshire
Worcester Animal Rescue League, Worcester, Massachusetts 
International Animal Rescue, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts 
Milton Animal League, Milton, Massachusetts 

Donation Drive for Hurricane Sandy Victims
Saturday, November 10, 2012, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
One Potata Productions, 80 E. 11th St., Suite 301A, Manhattan
Help rescue groups and shelters rebuild in the wake of the storm. Please bring pet food and supplies to Best Friends' donation drive this Saturday.

Ongoing Best Friends Volunteer Drive for Shelters in Need
Dropoff points:
80 E. 11th St., Suite 301A, Manhattan
One Potata Productions (between 11th and Broadway)
Monday - Friday:
7 am - 10 am: Leave with front desk
10 am – 6 pm: Please bring items to Suite 301A
6 pm – 9 pm: Leave with front desk

7 am – 6 pm: Leave with front desk

560 West 43rd Street, Manhattan (between 10th and 11th)
Monday - Sunday
10 am – 11 pm
Call 646-206-7465 for Muji. She will meet you in the lobby.

Hawthorne, New Jersey
Call or email Jackie Weber for location between 9 am and 9 pm.
Phone: 973-405-1499

Ship and mail items to:
Best Friends volunteer drive
c/o Diane Mancher
One Potata Productions
80 E. 11th Street, Suite 301A
New York, New York 10003





You can also donate directly to the Best Friends Emergency Relief Fund.


If you are a rescue group in need after Hurricane Sandy, click here for information on applying for a No More Homeless Pets Network micro-grant.


Photos by Tim Townsend