11/27/14 2:00pm
11/27/2014 2:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOOliver is awake (briefly).Before Oliver, a 2-year-old tabby, was adopted in 2012, he was a stray kitten doing his best to survive in an old barn behind a Southold church.

Now, the blue-eyed beauty is Mr. August 2015 in North Fork Animal Welfare League’s first calendar.

Photographed by volunteer photographer Katharine Schroeder of Cutchogue, the “Adopt Love!” calendar features portraits of cats and dogs that have been adopted from or are still waiting at NFAWL, which operates shelters in Riverhead and Peconic.

NFAWL director Gillian Wood-Pultz said the calendar, which is available for purchase at both shelters and at three local businesses, is selling well. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit group.

“They’re great gifts for Christmas,” she said. “Everybody needs a calendar.”KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOCamo caught in mid-yawn.

Ms. Schroeder, a freelance photographer for Times Review Media Group, said photographing the animals, who were chosen using a lottery system after interested owners sent in pictures of their pets, was “very challenging but lots of fun.”

“Most of the dogs were so friendly they charged right at the camera, trying to lick either me or the lens,” she said. “I used treats and sound effects to get good expressions from them.”

Ms. Schroeder said one dog, a beagle named Bailey, liked having her picture taken so much that she led the photographer to various locations throughout the house and “posed and posed and posed. I never saw anything like it.”

Not surprisingly, getting the cats to cooperate was a bit trickier.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOLayney.“Oliver falls asleep when he gets stressed or loses interest in something,” Ms. Schroeder said. “After taking only a handful of shots of him, he nodded off and there was nothing we could do to wake him up. Luckily, one of the shots was perfect.”

“Adopt Love!” is available for $10 at NFAWL’s Riverhead and Peconic shelters and at Groom and Gear in Mattituck, Dog Town in Southold and Harbor Pets in Greenport.

The calendar is also available for $15 (price includes shipping costs) at nfawl.org.

[email protected]

Emme, a 2-year-old Griffon/Brittany spaniel mix, loves to steal socks and shoes. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Emme, a 2-year-old Griffon/Brittany spaniel mix, loves to steal socks and shoes. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Captions: One-year-old Camo (top, right) was adopted by the Schoenstein family in 2013 and is much more canine than feline, his owners say. Layney (middle, left), a 3-year-old pit bull mix, loves playing with the dogs in her neighborhood.

10/01/14 4:30pm
10/01/2014 4:30 PM
Gillian Wood Pultz (right) and another African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) volunteer prep a satellite clinic to administer rabies vaccines to dogs in the city of Voi, located in southern Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Gillian Wood Pultz (right) and another African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) volunteer prep a satellite clinic to administer rabies vaccines to dogs in the city of Voi, located in southern Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Most people look forward to spending their precious vacation days enjoying rest, relaxation and the occasional cocktail, but that’s not the case with North Fork Animal Welfare League director Gillian Wood Pultz.

Twice a year since 2010, Ms. Wood Pultz has boarded a plane to Mexico to help spay and neuter 1,600 animals in just six days.

But this year, she decided to take her efforts even further away — about 8,000 miles, in fact — to Africa.

Armed with a sleeping bag and mosquito net, Ms. Wood Pultz flew from Mexico to Kenya on Aug. 19 to volunteer with the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), which had been working to stop the Kenyan government from using what Ms. Wood Pultz called an inhumane euthanasia practice in an effort to control the spread of rabies.

“The Kenyan government decided that in order to keep rabies at bay in humans, it had to reduce the population of stray dogs,” Ms. Wood Pultz said. “ANAW got involved and started a vaccination campaign.”

Gillian Wood Pultz said the highlight of her trip was helping children and families learn how to better care for their dogs, which included a tutorial on belly rubs. (Courtesy photo)

Ms. Wood Pultz joined a group of helpers from around the globe to vaccinate nearly 2,000 animals against rabies in just five days, sleeping on the roof of a building with other volunteers in order to save money.

The vaccinations replaced the Kenyan government’s use of strychnine, a form of poison that had been used to kill hundreds of stray dogs until March, when ANAW stepped in, according to the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals.

“It’s an oral poison, and it is a really harsh form [of euthanasia] — a horrible way to kill dogs,” Ms. Wood Pultz said.

NFAWL, which operates shelters in Riverhead and Southold towns, donated medical supplies and about 400 soon-to-expire vaccines that otherwise would have been thrown out, she said.

To help instill animal welfare, Ms. Wood Pultz said, “it is hugely important that everyone works together. We need cooperation and collaboration locally, nationally, and globally.”

She said her mission in Kenya went well beyond simply vaccinating animals.

“We want to change the way owners think of their animals,” she said.

Ms. Wood Pultz explained that dogs are treated as agricultural animals in that part of the world and frequently used to protect homes and herd cattle.

“Dogs are not considered pets. They are not allowed in the house,” she said. “It was so clear to me that they just didn’t know they were supposed to pet their dogs; they really weren’t sure.”

Ms. Wood Pultz said she set out to change that mindset.

“We started teaching the kids to rub their dog’s tummy,” she said. “One here, another there — and then, all of a sudden — all these kids had their dogs rolling in the field on their backs, wagging their tails.

“All you need is one of them to really get it and it can change an entire community,” she said.

[email protected]

Second photo credit: Gillian Wood Pultz said the highlight of her trip was helping children and families learn how to better care for their dogs, which included a tutorial on belly rubs. (Courtesy photo)

01/10/14 9:00am
01/10/2014 9:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Robert Frey (right) greets his rescuer, Jeff Heidtmann, for the first time since Mr. Heidtmann pulled the older man from the icy waters of a canal behind the neighbors’ Southold homes last Friday. The two were reunited Tuesday at Peconic Landing, where Mr. Frey is convalescing.

Jeff Heidtmann wasn’t supposed to be home last Friday afternoon. But it’s a good thing he was.

A mason for his family’s construction business, Mr. Heidtmann had expected to work a job site before the area was snowed in by last Thursday night’s blizzard. The Southold resident decided to spend the afternoon with his family and went out about 1:30 p.m. to get more firewood from the backyard of his home in Harbor Lights.

But as he stepped outside, he heard something faint in the still air, something he said sounded “unnatural.”

“It was kind of like a moan, but it was one of those noises that makes you stop and say, ‘That’s not normal,’ ” Mr. Heidtmann said.

He walked to the back of his property, near the canal that weaves behind the homes in the neighborhood. The shallow cries for help got louder.

Mr. Heidtmann didn’t see it until he got closer to the water’s edge: There between the chunks of ice was a withered, frostbitten hand clinging to the edge of his neighbor’s dock.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO  |  The dock where Mr. Frey fell into icy waters last week.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The dock where Mr. Frey fell into icy waters last week.

About 20 minutes before Mr. Heidtmann stepped outside, 84-year-old Robert Frey — a former aircraft engineer and Navy reservist — had snuck out of his house next door on Windjammer Drive.

Mr. Frey’s wife had warned him earlier in the day not to shovel the snow in the driveway. He agreed not to, but around 1 p.m. he decided to check on the de-icers breaking up the frozen canal near the pair of floating docks behind the couple’s home.

As the icebreaking machines bubbled under the water, Mr. Frey walked out onto the icy dock. He grabbed the line suspending one of the de-icers and pulled it from the canal. The machine was working normally.

Suddenly, Mr. Frey was in the water.

“I must’ve slipped on the ice while turning around,” he recalled.

Mr. Frey tried to pull himself back up onto the floating dock, but his fingers slipped from the slick platform. He couldn’t swim to shore either; the thick ice trapped him between the two docks.

Mr. Frey paddled over to a three-inch-wide metal pole anchoring the floating dock to the inlet’s bottom and grabbed on, growing weaker by the minute.

“I was up to my neck in ice,” he said.

He hollered for his wife to help, but the doors and windows of his home were all closed. Ms. Frey had no idea he was gone. He yelled again, hoping someone might hear him. No one came.

Mr. Frey doesn’t know how long he was yelling for help, maybe 15 minutes, maybe half an hour.

The last thing Robert Frey can remember is clinging to the pole in the freezing water as his body went numb.

“I could feel the end coming near,” he said. “I figured I was a goner.”

Mr. Heidtmann didn’t have time to think. He just knew he had to get his neighbor out of the water.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Mr. Frey shows his hands, which were raw and blistered from frostbite.

By the time he ran down the bulkhead and onto the dock, Mr. Frey’s skin was already turning blue.

Mr. Heidtmann wrapped his legs around the pole at the end of the dock so he wouldn’t fall in. He grabbed Mr. Frey’s wide leather belt, yanking him from the water.

“I kept saying, ‘I’m gonna get you out,’ ”Mr. Heidtmann said.

As he sat on the floating dock in a daze, Mr. Frey was still mumbling calls for help, as if his neighbor wasn’t there. Delirium caused by hypothermia had already set in and his arms and legs were turning purple, Mr. Heidtmann said.

He knew he had to get Mr. Frey, with whom he’d rarely spoken in the past, inside or he would freeze. He hoisted the man onto his shoulder and ran back up the snow-covered hill to his neighbor’s home.

“I’m not a big guy,” Mr. Heidtmann said. “[What] they say about the adrenaline, it’s real.”

Mr. Heidtmann banged on the couple’s door, alerting Ms. Frey to what had happened.

He carried Mr. Frey into the bathroom, laid him on the tiled floor near a heat vent, stripped him of his soaking wet clothes and wrapped him in blankets and towels.

Ms. Frey called 911.

Southold Fire Department EMT Craig Goldsmith had been driving through town when he heard chatter over his police scanner about an exposure emergency. As police were dispatched to Mr. Frey’s home, Mr. Goldsmith followed close behind.

Within a couple minutes after Mr. Frey was pulled from the water, Mr. Goldsmith, police and an ambulance crew arrived on the scene.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Mr. Frey remembers first being at Eastern Long Island Hospital but has no memory of how he got there or his own dramatic rescue by Mr. Heidtmann.

They found Mr. Frey still lying on the bathroom floor, babbling a stream of obscenities and trying to sit up.

“He was making no sense,” Mr. Goldsmith said.

Mr. Frey’s legs were sliced with cuts, likely from being scraped against barnacles on the dock’s edge as he tried to climb out.

Mr. Goldsmith — along with fire department volunteers Ed Boyd, Cathy Hall, Michelle Salman, Keith Cummings, Cathy Welnski and Charlie Turner — quickly loaded Mr. Frey onto a gurney and into the waiting ambulance.

As they rushed him to Eastern Long Island Hospital, volunteers covered Mr. Frey in heat packs. One of the volunteers wrapped an IV line around a heat pack, trying to warm up Mr. Frey’s body from the inside. His body temperature had plummeted to 88.7 degrees, nearly 10 degrees below normal, volunteers said.

Hypothermia begins to set in at 95 degrees.

Had he not been warmed, the platelets in Mr. Frey’s blood would have broken apart, Mr. Goldsmith said. His heart was also beating in different rhythms as his body struggled to recover, said volunteer Keith Cummings.

“The heart rhythm goes through all these different beats because it senses a problem with the body,” he said. “He was very lucky.”

Had he spent five or 10 more minutes in the water, volunteers said, Mr. Frey would have died.

“It was a great save,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “Jeff definitely deserves to be recognized. If it wasn’t for him, we’d probably be doing a [body] recovery.”

In an interview after the rescue, Mr. Heidtmann said he was just in the right place at the right time to hear his neighbor’s cries for help.

“It wasn’t his time,” he said. “I was supposed to be there, I guess.”

Mr. Frey remembers being at the hospital, though he has no memory of how he got there or his own dramatic rescue. Dressed in a hospital gown, his hands were raw and blistered from frostbite and his sore feet were tucked into gray socks.

His ankle was injured during the fall and Mr. Frey — normally a healthy man — was unable to stand. He’s expected to spend the next two weeks at Peconic Landing undergoing physical therapy to recover from his injuries.

Mr. Frey knows he’s lucky to get off that easy, thanks in large part to the heroism of his neighbor.

“I don’t know how the heck he did it,” Mr. Frey said, his eyes welling with tears. “I’m going to give that man the biggest hug I can.”

Mr. Frey got that chance Tuesday afternoon, when he met with Mr. Heidtmann at Peconic Landing for the first time since his plunge.

“I owe you,” Mr. Frey said as they embraced in his small, warm room. “You saved my life.”

“You don’t owe me nothing,” Mr. Heidtmann replied.

[email protected]

07/09/13 1:33pm
07/09/2013 1:33 PM

COURTESY DEC | The sea turtle rescued rescued off Orient Point.

A 5-foot-long leatherback sea turtle – the world’s largest living turtle and an endangered species – was rescued off Orient Point Saturday, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said.

DEC officers on a routine patrol discovered the sea turtle trapped about two miles off of Orient Point in the “fast moving waters” of Plum Gut, according to a release. The turtle had become ensnared in the ropes of a lobster buoy, which were tangled around the animal’s lower torso, according to DEC officials.

The DEC officers were able to cut away buoy ropes, freeing the large turtle.

“Saving such a large animal required a great deal of skill and the officers involved in this rescue should be commended for using their knowledge and boatmanship to rescue this magnificent animal.” said DEC commissioner Joe Martens.

It is estimated that only 115,000 adult female leatherback sea turtles still exist, making them an endangered species at both state and federal levels according to the DEC.

The leatherback can grow up to 6-feet in length and weigh up to 1,300 pounds, earning its name for its leathery skin.

In the Atlantic, leatherback sea turtles are found regularly off the coast of New England, especially Massachusetts and the Gulf of Maine, and in Long Island waters, according to the release.

[email protected]