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North Fork Animal Welfare League To Receive Major Boost In Funding

Nicole Barylski

The New York State Companion Animal Capital Fund has awarded a $500,000 grant to the North Fork Animal Welfare League (NFAWL), which operates the Southold Animal Shelter and Riverhead Animal Shelter.

The funding will be used towards the newly purchased Riverhead Animal Shelter, allowing the non-profit to upgrade the space to adhere to the strict Association of Shelter Veterinarian's Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. NFAWL has held the Town of Riverhead's animal control contract since 2013 and in 2018 NFAWL purchased a new facility for the Riverhead Animal Shelter. The previous building, situated next to a garbage dump and waste processing plant, was in great disrepair.

"Receiving this grant is a huge vote of confidence from New York State regarding the level of quality care provided by the North Fork Animal Welfare League to the homeless animals of Riverhead," expressed Gillian Pultz, NFAWL Executive Director.

NFAWL is one of just six municipal shelters in the state that has been bestowed $500,000 from the fund, which was originally championed by New York State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-NYC) and State Senator Phil Boyle (R-Suffolk County). It is overseen by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The grant will greatly assist NFAWL with Phase One of the $2.8 million dollar project that revolves around establishing high volume shelter industry standards - such as isolation care units and adoption suites.

"We believe in saving more animals' lives in Riverhead, our elected officials believe in saving more lives, and our community believes in it too," explained Pultz. "In addition to creating a safer and healthier environment to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home more dogs, we're committed to working more closely with the area's community cat caregivers - in the last month alone we have been alerted to two separate unmanaged feral cat colonies with over 350 intact cats. The funding will go a long way towards solving the issues some of Riverhead's most underserved communities are facing."

Once completed, NFAWL's new state-of-the-art animal shelter will offer a range of exciting amenities including, "adequate kennels for dogs, space for group housing and individual spaces for cats, comfortable bonding rooms for families to become acquainted with shelter pets, dedicated areas for dog training, as well as orientation classes for volunteers and the public, a clean and safe setting to walk dogs, the ability to expand animal welfare related services for our community, space for staff and volunteers, as well as storage of supplies, energy efficiency, with proper ventilation and lighting, ample parking for visitors and staff, quiet space for outdoor exercise pens," and more.

NFAWL has an open door policy for the area's homeless dogs and cats. The new location will allow the Shelter to aid even more animals in need.

"The North Fork Animal Welfare League sponsors an indispensable local Trap-Neuter-Return program that's been running successfully for over a decade," Donna Baldridge, a community cat caregiver, relayed. "The fact that the Riverhead Animal Shelter will be able to act as a community resource for the un-owned cats of the area is paramount to realizing our goal of no more homeless cats on the North Fork. This money will ensure that the stray cats will continue to get the same quality care as owned cats, while we work on diminishing the numbers of unwanted litters born on the streets."

In addition to rescuing and offering a place for animals to stay while they await adoption, NFAWL also offers a variety of programs to the public, including spay and neuter clinics, microchip clinics, and Feral cat spay and Neuter programs.

"The Companion Animal Capital Fund is the first state-funded program of its kind in the nation," noted Libby Post, New York State Animal Protection Federation (NYSAPF) Executive Director. "Our goal is to create a permanent funding stream to assist shelters across New York improve their existing buildings or build new ones. Better facilities equal more community support and more adoptions. We see this funding as essential to moving the state's animal shelters forward."

Pultz, who is one of the founding members of the NYSAPF, believes the grant is a positive step in the awareness of companion animal welfare. "The Riverhead Animal Shelter was once a few makeshift trailers behind the waste transfer station, today it is in a new building quickly on its way to being a state-of-the-art facility, saving cats for the first time, and serving both the animals and the people who love them with quality care," she explained. "We are elated that our local and state elected officials recognize that companion animals are a growing priority to their constituents and this grant reflects their commitment."

For more information, call 631-765-1811 or visit nfawl.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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