05/02/15 8:00am
05/02/2015 8:00 AM
Trainer Gina Lepine  and Maddalena Mineo, 17, places treats on the agility plank to encourage Coco, 2 1/2, to walk down the incline Thursday afternoon. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Trainer Gina Lepine and Maddalena Mineo, 17, places treats on the agility plank to encourage Coco, 2 1/2, to walk down the incline Thursday afternoon. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

With a skip and a jump, two-year-old shelter dog Coco followed the trail of treats lined on a new agility plank at the Southold Town Animal Shelter with laser focus Thursday afternoon.

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03/20/15 8:00am
03/20/2015 8:00 AM
(Credit:

This baby owl was rescued in Southold on Thursday. (Credit: Gillian Wood Pultz)

A baby owl that fell out of its nest in Southold Thursday afternoon has safely returned to his tree thanks to a quick-thinking real estate agent and local animal rescue workers. (more…)

05/14/14 11:37am
05/14/2014 11:37 AM
After he was missing for six months, Charlie was reunited at home in Mattituck with Kayla and Greg Masem and 18-month-old Wyatt. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

After she was missing for six months, Charlie was reunited at home in Mattituck with Kayla and Greg Masem and 18-month-old Wyatt.
(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

After escaping from her Mattituck home in November, 5-year-old Charlie heard her name for the first time in six months on Friday.

With a wagging tail and lots of kisses, the settler/pointer mix was undeniably happy to be finally recognized by someone, anyone — in this case, a staffer at the Southold Animal Shelter.  (more…)

01/04/14 11:30am
01/04/2014 11:30 AM
BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | A pair of dogs at the Southold Animal Shelter.

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | A pair of dogs at the Southold Animal Shelter.

Steps were taken in Southold Town Hall Thursday to fund the installation of solar panels and other improvements to the town animal shelter, which is operated by the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League.

As part of the state’s environmental review process, the Town Board declared a “negative declaration,” meaning the work won’t result in any significant impact to the environment.

The board also approved the issuance of $330,000 in bonds to help fund the $527,000 project.

But Supervisor Scott Russell said between money coming from a large donation from a local family as well as power company rebates, the project will cost the town less than $100,000.

“We’re actually just putting money in place,” he told a concerned resident who took to the podium during the meeting. Mr. Russell added the town’s share of the funding would be paid back “through the next budget cycle.”

He also said lower energy bills will see the town recoup its initial investment in “less than five years.”

“The electric bills at the animal shelter are staggering,” said Councilman William Ruland. “Anything we can do to offset that — for as long as 20 years in this case — is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Both resolutions, one declaring the negative declaration and the other authorizing the construction and issuing the bonds, passed unanimously.

The work involves “the design and construction of shade structures, including installation of photovoltaic system and related improvements and other ancillary work,” read resolution 2014-89.

As reported in December, the town accepted the bid of SUNation of Oakdale to undertake the photovoltaic installation.

Under the agreement, the contractor is responsible for retaining the rebates and passing the savings to the town.

Mr. Russell said last month the work would be done sometime in 2014.

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01/12/12 9:08am
01/12/2012 9:08 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Claudia, an orange and white boxer-bulldog mix, is the first graduate of the shelter’s American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen program, which helps dogs develop the social skills they need to be adopted easily and get along with their eventual owners for the long-term. The program started in August.

In the classroom at the Southold Town animal shelter in Peconic, a 4-year-old dog named Claudia sits calmly, proudly sporting a blue and yellow bandanna around her neck.

Claudia, an orange and white boxer-bulldog mix, is the first graduate of the shelter’s American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen program, which helps dogs develop the social skills they need to be adopted easily and get along with their eventual owners for the long-term. The program started in August.

Dawn Bennett, who runs North Fork School for Dogs in Cutchogue, is a shelter volunteer and has been training several dogs there on good manners.

“As you can see, Claudia is very food-motivated,” Ms. Bennett said. Claudia’s eyes lit up as Ms. Bennett grabbed a handful before demonstrating some of the commands the dog had learned.

Ms. Bennett told Claudia to sit, then walked away from her and waited about 20 seconds. After seeing that Claudia had stayed put, Ms. Bennett gave her a reward.

“She’ll do anything for a treat,” the trainer said.

Claudia first came to the shelter two years ago this month, after she was found wandering the streets of Southold during a blizzard. Ms. Bennett said Claudia had to work hard to overcome her shyness, a personality trait can lead to aggressive behavior.

“Shyness is also fearfulness and they can lash out at humans or other dogs,” she explained.

Ms. Bennett uses “Meet and Greet Strangers” training, the first of the program’s 10 steps, to help the animals overcome shyness. Dogs are taught through a “touch” process that rewards them if they remain calm when sniffed by other dogs or petted.

“They don’t have to like everyone, but they have to learn that they can’t act aggressive,” Ms. Bennett said.

After about two months of Canine Good Citizen training, Claudia took her final exam this week. Ms. Bennett first tested her at the Feed Bag pet store in Cutchogue, where she practiced her “meeting strangers” skills. Then Claudia was tested on walking through a crowd on Love Lane in Mattituck.

“I’m very strict and I don’t just pass the dogs quickly through the program,” Ms. Bennett said. “Claudia didn’t receive any rewards during the exam and she passed with flying colors.”

Three other dogs are also scheduled to take their final exams this month: Pie, a pitbull-hound mix; Kiwi, a stafford-shepherd mix; and Dodger, a 7-year-old shepherd that came to the shelter after being displaced during Hurricane Katrina.

The program’s final step is to teach the dogs to lie down. This is the last step because it places the animal in a vulnerable position and a great sense of trust needs to exist between the animal and the trainer.

“Instead of pushing them down to the floor, we get them relaxed by massaging them,” Ms. Bennett said.

Once the dogs are relaxed, she trains them to lie down by lowering a piece of food to the floor.

Now that Claudia has graduated from the program, Ms. Bennett hopes she will soon be adopted into a loving family.

“When we take her to the park she doesn’t run around and just wants to hang out by a bench,” she said. “All she wants to do is snuggle.”

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05/24/11 6:35pm
05/24/2011 6:35 PM

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | A pair of dogs at the shelter.

The North Fork Animal Welfare League has been awarded a new four-year contract to run the Southold Town Animal Shelter.

The Southold Town Board voted unanimously to approve the contract at its Tuesday afternoon board meeting.

The town came under fire late this winter after it put out a request for proposals to operate the shelter while in the midst of negotiations with the Animal Welfare League, which in 2008 had been awarded a three-year contract to run the shelter.

Though Animal Welfare League proponents packed Town Hall in mid-February demanding the town’s reasoning behind issuing the request for proposals, Town Board members said at the time that they were simply executing due diligence in determining whether the Animal Welfare League was giving the town the best deal.

The non-profit group’s supporters said, however, that the Animal Welfare League only charged the town just more than half of the $376,780 cost to run the shelter in 2010, raising $179,000 from private donors.

The Animal Welfare League received $197,390 from the town for the contract period beginning April 1, 2010 and ending March 31, 2011. In the midst of negotiations, the town extended that contract by two months in March of this year.

The new contract, beginning June 1, 2011, will authorize the town to provide $205,000 for the operation of the animal shelter this year, $211,150 the following year and $217,484 for the following two years, ending May 31, 2015.

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02/16/11 9:57am
02/16/2011 9:57 AM

When Southold Town last week issued a request for proposals to run the town’s animal shelter in the midst of contract negotiations with the shelter’s current managers, the North Fork Animal Welfare League, rumors began to run rampant.

Nearly 100 supporters of the shelter turned out at a town board meeting Tuesday night to blast the board for its request for proposals, which board members said was issued in the interest of doing due diligence in ensuring that the management of the shelter is giving taxpayers the best value for their money.

The members of the public were spurred on by an op-ed piece published on an internet news source that implied town officials had already made a back-door deal with another entity to run the shelter, and by a letter sent to other animal service organizations soliciting proposals by a woman who has long been an opponent of the League’s presence at the shelter, ostensibly at the urging of a member of the Town Board.

Town Supervisor Scott Russell said before taking comments that “there is no intention, clandestine or otherwise, to create a kill shelter of any kind. There is no effort to create a municipal shelter of any kind. There’s no intent to end our relationship with the North Fork Animal Welfare League.”

Mr. Russell said the board had sent the League’s attorney a proposal for a new contract in mid-January, but that the League’s attorney, instead of making a counter-offer, had said they want to continue the terms of their old contract, which expires on March 31.

Members of the board said they need to change some aspects of the contract, including asking the League to pay part of the $35,000 to $40,000 annual energy costs of the shelter, to have the shelter provide the name of their animal control officer to the town and provide provisions for handling dog licenses, which as of Jan. 1 are processed by towns instead of New York State.

Currently, the town pays the League just over $197,000 per year to run the shelter. The League raises the remaining $180,00 of its annual budget through fundraising.

Michael Edelson, a member of the public from Greenport who spoke at the hearing, brought with him a copy of a letter written by  Carole Geiss of Southold, who sued the Animal Welfare League in 2002. The letter, addressed to the animal welfare group RSVP in Riverhead, asked RSVP to submit a bid to run the shelter. Ms. Geiss said in the letter that she had sent it at the urging of Town Board member Vincent Orlando.

Mr. Orlando and other members of the board said that they were shocked by the letter, and had no idea it existed until Mr. Edelson read it to them.

Mr. Orlando said that Ms. Geiss, who frequently attends town board work sessions, had approached him several months ago at a work session after a board discussion of the shelter, and said that she would give him the names of other organizations that could run the shelter.

He said that he had likely said no more than “ok” during a casual conversation at the work session, but had no idea that Ms. Geiss had taken his response as an indication that she had the town’s blessing to solicit bids for management of the shelter.

The  request for proposals was issued last Thursday, and potential bidders have until Feb. 24 to submit their proposals. Mr. Russell said that the short time frame should indicate to the shelter’s supporters that the town does not believe it will find any other agency that can do the work that the League does.

“If nothing else it shows taxpayers that there is no one else better to run the shelter,” he said. “We have to show taxpayers we’re exercising due diligence.”

Mr. Russell urged the League’s supporters to press the League to prepare a counteroffer to the town’s proposed contract, in the interest of keeping negotiations moving forward. He said that he is unable to talk to the League’s Executive Director, Gillian Wood, about the contract because only the League’s attorney, Pamela Mann of Manhattan, is authorized to speak on their behalf about contract issues.

Mr. Russell told the crowd that he would like to hold a public meeting next week to go over the town’s proposed contract line-by-line with the public. He said that he would make details of that meeting public after he receives legal advice on how to present the contract publicly without disrupting negotiations, which are typically held in closed sessions.

“I can see my attorney rolling his eyes,” he said.

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