2018-08-23 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Last Saturday was Clear the Shelters 2018. NBC- and Telemundoowned stations teamed up with 1,200 shelters across the country that waive or reduce their adoption fees during this day so more pets in need find loving homes. Current total for August 18: over 77,000 dogs and cats were adopted during this year’s special event.

Long Island animal agencies taking part benefit from advertising by our local channels, WNBC 4 and Telemundo 47. Last Hope in Wantagh was one of them. Volunteers had an emotionally charged day as 23 dogs and cats either left, or were approved to leave, to begin their new lives.

Rescue groups know the background story of some, but not all, pets in their care. Here are profiles of four of the 23 Clear the Shelters pets from Last Hope now bound for a much better life:

•Tortie Used for Target Practice: Chloe is a 6-year-old cat from a Suffolk feral colony. She was caught in a humane trap so she could be spayed at a Last Hope mass TNR (Trap/Neuter/ Return) clinic in February 2018. She turned out to be quite friendly so she wasn’t returned to her colony after spay as most of the ferals are.


Cleo the Husky who survived in a home where 4 others died of heat stroke goes home to Queens with her new Mom. Cleo the Husky who survived in a home where 4 others died of heat stroke goes home to Queens with her new Mom. Back at Last Hope, this tortoise shell beauty tested FIV+ (FIV is feline immune deficiency disease), which is an adoption deterrent but far from a feline death sentence. Feline leukemia is the more dangerous disease to both the infected cat and any nearby cat.

Later our medical team felt a lump in Chloe’s lower jaw. The veterinarian discovered an embedded BB when she removed the lump. This means not only did Chloe have to endure harsh weather and scrounging for food as a feral at a colony, but she also had to dodge bullets from someone using these cats for target practice.


Chloe the FIV+cat who also had a BB embedded in the jaw was adopted during CLEAR the SHELTERS. Chloe the FIV+cat who also had a BB embedded in the jaw was adopted during CLEAR the SHELTERS. For more than six months, Chloe was overlooked by potential adopters because of her FIV status, yet a favorite of the volunteers. Her best friend Eileen would spend evenings sitting in her cage, petting and brushing her or reading to Chloe. Eileen had the honor of delivering Chloe to her new owner: a Baldwin man with two senior dogs and no cats at the present time.

•Husky from a Horrible House: Cleo came to Last Hope from Brookhaven Town Shelter. On July 4, she was one of six Huskies to survive the sweltering heat with no food, water or ventilation in a Selden hoarder house where four other Huskies were found dead. Someone went to the house and made the horrible discovery. Two Huskies were rushed to the ER first and the others went directly to Brookhaven.

This story was covered on the local news but was eclipsed the next morning when another horrific LI story broke about three Rottweilers dead in Shirley inside crates in a sweat box SUV, and three more found barely alive, while their owner slept 11 hours in his family’s air conditioned pizzeria a few hundred yards away. He’d driven home from Pennsylvania with the six dogs and was too tired to drive the rest of the way home, only a mile or so. The dogs were in crates, and the windows were completely closed in the SUV.

Despite her ordeal, Cleo the Husky mix was easy going and friendly. A lady from Queens Village read her sad story online and came to meet her. She had always owned big dogs. Several were neighbors’ dogs not being cared for adequately. She would talk the neighbors into surrendering the dogs to her.

Twenty years ago she adopted Sidney from Last Hope, “her best cat ever.” She came to meet Cleo during the week. Her home check in Queens was done early Saturday, and the lady picked Cleo up about an hour later. Cleo didn’t want to pose for photos. She was more interested in jumping into the car to go home with her new mom.

•No Buttered Bread: Butters was a Hound mix found as a starved stray by Last Hope’s transport rescue partner STAR. Jackie Matthews, a transplanted Jersey girl, is president of STAR and drives homeless dogs from Kentucky to the Northeast.

Jackie said, “Butters was borderline emaciated when we picked her up from a home in Morehead. Butters had wandered into a kind lady’s fenced yard through a hole. Not only was she on the overly thin side, but she had a bad skin infection. STAR treated her for both.”

During Clear the Shelters, a family that adopted Dustin (a Beagle from Kentucky five years ago) came back to Last Hope looking for a friend for him. As for Dustin, back in 2013 we had no advance warning about his damaged eye. It must have been trauma from an old injury and was surgically removed by our vets. Dustin was also treated for heartworm, another surprise condition this poor dog presented when he got to Last Hope.

Both Butters and Dustin had a history of being cautious when choosing canine pals, but after their Meet n’ Greet, both dogs were crying for each other when Butters was being led back into her kennel. Butters went home to her main squeeze Dustin the next day.

•Life in the Fast Lane: Two weeks ago Sunrise was running in the fast lane on Sunrise Highway in West Islip. She was only eight weeks old, recently shaved and spayed. She had dreadful ear mites, a corneal scar from bad eye infection, but was a friendly kitten. If someone went to the trouble and expense of spaying her, why would that person release such a tiny and socialized cat? She was bruised too which sounds suspiciously like someone else tossed her into the fast lane.

Good Samaritans happened to be driving by. They stopped traffic and risked their own lives to grab Sunrise in the nick of time. Sunrise stayed at Last Hope for medical attention, and went up for adoption during Clear the Shelters. A Lindenhurst woman and her son adopted this sweet kitten. The son gave her a superhero name, “Selina,” after Selina Kyle who plays Catwoman.

Last Hope, like other shelters across the country, is so grateful for the pet adoption promotional help of NBC and affiliate channels. TV commercials really work. We had non-stop traffic at Last Hope. Taking part in Clear the Shelters adds strength to the message to Adopt a Shelter pet.

Oops, I just peeked at the adoption tracker on cleartheshelters.com. The national total is over 78,200 and still climbing.

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