North Fork Animal Welfare League director takes volunteerism on the road

COURTESY PHOTO | Gillian Wood Pultz with a dog in Mexico.

Gillian Wood Pultz is dedicated to finding homes for homeless animals — and her territory is not limited to the North Fork.

The 17-year executive director of the North Fork Animal Welfare League is also a volunteer with the organization VIDAS, which translates to International Veterinarians Dedicated to Animal Health, a group devoted to offering free spay and neuter clinics.

“She’s one of the best volunteers I’ve ever run across,” said Dr. Lisa McCarthy, one of the founders of VIDAS. “We’re getting to where we feel we can’t do a clinic without her. She and her crew have to deal with up to 100 animals at a time in the recovery unit and that takes the utmost organization and skill.”

Ms. Wood Pultz spent the last days of a recent vacation in Mexico helping to spay and neuter dogs in a small village south of Cancun.

“When I returned to check on the animals the next day, a small puppy followed me off the highway into the village,” she said. “The patriarch of the village informed me the dog was not one of theirs and would be placed back on the highway when I left, so I made arrangements with a local veterinarian to get her a health certificate so she could fly home with me.”

The dog rode home under her airplane seat and despite the fact Ms. Wood Pultz still calls the dog, Tula, a “foster child,” she thinks the dog may have found a forever home with her.

“I think she may have found a permanent spot in my husband’s heart,” she said.

Tula isn’t the only Mexican dog to have found a home on the North Fork. Ms. Wood Pultz also brought home a border collie named Tara, who had spent four years on Mexican streets. Tara was adopted by Greenporters Julie Lane and Diane Mitchell.

“I went out to meet her one day and just fell in love, you know the stories,” Ms. Mitchell said. “Tara is so sweet and gentle. She just wants to be loved and Julie and I are more than willing to love her.”

Ms. Mitchell, who lost her 17-year-old shepherd mix, Sheba, this past Christmas, knew she wanted to adopt another dog to buddy up with her Lab mix, Katia, rescued on the Gulf coast by Ms. Wood Pultz following Hurricaine Katrina in 2006. After a conversation with Ms. Lane, the two decided to adopt an older animal.

“We knew it would be a rescue dog, but we said let’s get an older one,” said Ms. Mitchell. “They deserve good and most of them are so sweet and just need homes.”

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