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Local Animal Activist To Be Honored At SASF’s Annual "Unconditional Love"

Sydney A. Braat

Jonathan McCann and Sony Schotland. (Courtesy Photo)

Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) is paying tribute to the "woman who started it all," Sony Schotland, during the Shelter's Unconditional Love Gala on Saturday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m. Schotland has drastically helped shape SASF's shelters and rescues on Long Island with her love, dedication, and passion for animals. She is a founding member of SASF and Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF), and hundreds of thousands of animals owe their lives to Schotland's selfless dedication to these organizations. Schotland is also an honorary board member for the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center.

This year's Unconditional Love Gala will be held at a magnificent, private oceanfront hideaway in Southampton. Chuck Scarborough will serve as the Master of Ceremonies, and the 2017 theme is a whimsical walk in the park with festive attire. Chris Norton and his band will provide entertaining music for the evening and dinner will be catered by Pinch Food Design. Throughout the evening, be sure to take part in a live auction from Katie Jacobs who will offer top prizes including seven nights in a two-bedroom luxury condo in Sun Valley Colorado, two nights at The Victoria Hotel in Paris, two tickets to Billy Joel's sold-out concert in August, two tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and so many more! Proceeds from this event support the critical programs and services SASF offers.

Schotland has dedicated her life to the betterment of animals' lives, including campaigning to improve the lives of animals and prevent shelter pets from being euthanized. "Animal cruelty is something we just cannot accept," stated Schotland.

Schotland's first interaction with SASF occurred when the Shelter was still run by the town. In 2009, the Shelter was forced to close due to financial difficulties all while 225 pets were still under its care. The animals' fates were very uncertain. Schotland couldn't stand by and watch these animals' lives be put in jeopardy. She teamed up with local community members to see about privatizing the Shelter and saving these innocent lives. The board of directors was formed into what it is known as today and renamed SASF.

Schotland has worked tirelessly for 50 years to ensure better lives for animals around the world. (Courtesy Photo)

Today, SASF is a non-kill and open admissions shelter that will help with more than 1,000 pets find loving families and gain a second chance each year. "We do not discriminate on what pets we accept under our care. Regardless of age, medical condition, breed or need- we will help," said Schotland.

Over the years, SASF has expanded tremendously, but the core mission has always remained steady: to help. SASF is an adoption center and an animal shelter with an affordable pet wellness clinic that is open to the public. SASF also has a shelter where volunteers can get involved and walk dogs daily. Dogs attend play groups twice a day to keep them active. There is also a spay and neuter service, a pet food pantry, a dog training center, cat "catios" and serves as the community's resources for responsible pet guardianship. It's safe to say SASF does it all!

"In 2015 we were awarded a grant for mobile spay and neuter unit. We now can provide low cost surgeries to pet owners who need it. Our mobile team goes out 3 times a week to low income areas providing spay and neuter surgeries, vaccines and microchipping to an average of 45 owned pets per week," stated Jonathan McCann, President of the shelter's Board of Directors since 2010. "We want to help stop the overpopulation of pets on Long Island and providing owners with these affordable services is the way to do it!"

McCann has been friends with Schotland for more than 50 years. "Sony is a remarkable pioneer in the world of Animal Welfare. She has protected the lives of animals throughout the East End of Long Island. The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation is proud that she is a founder," remarked McCann.

SASF is growing and developing every year, reaching record numbers in 2016. "Our main responsibility is to our local strays and the owner surrendered pets in our township. Last year we rehomed 202 pets that were surrendered to us and found loving homes for 498 stray dogs/cats," shared Kate McEntee, Director of Adoptions at SASF. "When we have a free spot and can help, we will."

Join SASF in celebrating Sony Schotland and all the incredible work she has done over the past 50 years! (Courtesy Photo)

SASF also reaches out to other shelters in the United States to help when they are experiencing overwhelming numbers and to make sure those animals avoid being euthanized. "We pull dogs from the inundated shelters in NYC, high kill shelters in Georgia, puppy mills and hoarding situations, street dogs from Puerto Rico, and have even helped save dogs from the Yulin Meat Festival in China," said McEntee. "Last year our shelter was able to help 208 dogs from overcrowded shelters and dire situations. All of whom were able to find loving homes through our adoption center!"

Schotland is greatly appreciated by all the individuals (and animals) she encounters. "Sony Schotland has been a trailblazer in supporting the humane treatment of animals in our community," said Jerry Rosenthal, SASF executive director. "Her spirit, determination, and leadership inspired others to come together and establish the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, an organization that has grown and now serves over 5,000 animals annually."

Schotland could not be more proud of the Shelter's growth over the years. "There are so many wonderful things for the shelter and success stories to tell in the future, lives to save and people to help," added Schotland. "The shelter needs to continue and we need the support of our friends and community to keep this going. I am honored to be honored and look forward to seeing everyone at the Gala."

The Unconditional Love Gala serves as SASF's main fundraiser of the year and helps to continue the Shelter's programs and mission to save lives. Tickets are $300 to $1,000.

"Make your life what you want and help others, our planet and animals along the way," said Schotland.

Unconditional Love Gala will be held at private residence on Gin Lane in Southampton. For more information, call 631-728-7387 or visit southamptonanimalshelter.com.

Sydney Braat is a Hamptons-raised and NYC-living journalist. She enjoys splitting her time between the bustling city life and relaxing atmosphere of the Hamptons. When she's not writing, Sydney is traveling. She thrives off of new experiences, cultures, cuisine, and languages. Sydney writes about the arts, philanthropy, food & wine, and shopping. https://www.sosydneyny.com/ sydneybraat

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