When West End resident Dawn Cozine’s dog passed away several years ago, she was reluctant to adopt another one right away. Rather, she said to her daughter, “We’re going to go work at the animal shelter instead.”
She knew that eventually the right dog would come walking through the door. And by Labor Day weekend it did. Kami—short for Kamikaze— was found wandering around Point Lookout. She moved into the Cozine household as a foster dog— but quickly became a beloved family member.
That was in 2012, a mere 6 weeks before Superstorm Sandy, and Kami proved to be a good watch dog as they lived through the aftermath.
When Dawn first showed up at the animal shelter she was surprised—and a bit dismayed— at who she found there. “All the volunteers were all out-of-towners. I was like, ‘where are all the people from Long Beach?’ That didn’t sit well with me.”
That was five years ago, and with the exception of a reluctant break after the hurricane, Dawn and her daughter Audrey have been volunteering at the shelter ever since. “You have to teach your kids lessons in life,” she says. And helping homeless animals in Long Beach is their way of giving back to the community.
Dawn, Audrey, and friend Cheyenne do the Sunday morning shift. While the girls clean out the cat room (emptying litter boxes and food bowls) Dawn does dishes, sweeps, mops, and folds laundry. “I do morning chores,” she says with a laugh. Basically anything that allows her to “stay away from them (the pets) so she doesn’t take them all home.” She calls every cat “kitten” to stay detached. Not easy to do once you’ve seen the needy faces of so many cats and dogs longing for a forever home.
My visit to the shelter took me back to my teens when I worked at Bide-A-Wee in Wantagh (it’s since closed). I remember the daily pull on my heart, wishing I could give them all homes. My poor mother was always worried that I’d bring a new pet home—we already had two cats and a dog!
Currently, Posh Pets Rescue is the operator for the City of Long Beach Animal Shelter. As a nonprofit with a good track record of fundraising and caring for homeless animals, they were chosen to run the shelter after Rescue Ink was ousted in 2014. Rescue Ink had failed to properly evacuate the shelter prior to the hurricane, and Dawn sadly informed me that several animals drowned. The survivors ended up in an Island Park garage until the shelter was up and running again.
The Long Beach Animal Shelter is required to take in any animal that becomes homeless on the barrier island. Many arrive because their owner moves, or is too sick to take care for them. But the shelter also sees its share of abused and abandoned pets. Regardless of how they arrived, they all need good homes.
Manager Sarah Douque told me the shelter is always looking for volunteers like Dawn and Audrey. It’s a great way for kids to put in their service hours, but anyone younger than 18 is required to have a parent volunteer with them. “Half the time they go home with a pet,” Dawn says with a grin as she scrubs out the last of several dozen pet bowls. “That’s one of the side effects of working here.”
Volunteering opportunities vary. Besides clean-up, the shelter needs foster parents, dog walkers, and people to help with adoption fairs (on the boardwalk and nearby) and fundraising. They also need electricians and plumbers willing to donate their services should building or appliance repairs be needed. Every penny saved means they can help more animals.
“The need never seems to end,” Dawn explains, “I really feel for these animals.”
If you’re not ready to adopt a pet or don’t have time to volunteer, you can help by contributing to their never-ending supply list which includes: food, towels, linens, dog beds, mops, Clorox wipes, bleach, garbage bags and laundry detergent. Canned cat food is considered gold, as is grain-free dog food. Order from their Amazon Wish List to have your donations shipped direct. And of course, your tax-deducible cash donations are much appreciated too!
Beyond the barrier island, Posh Pets Rescue also saves pets that are moments away from euthanasia in New York City shelters. Internationally, they work with the Soi Dog Foundation to help save some of the thousands of dogs butchered each year in Thailand’s illegal dog meat market.
Nowadays, 80% of adoptions come from online matching. Posh Pets Rescue works closely to match a pet to an owners lifestyle and energy level. “You get a feel for the person, whether it’s a senior citizen or a young, active family,” says Sarah. “But basically, the pets pick you.”
Recently, the shelter had one of their sweetest adoptions, a dog named Tai who lived there for two years. He’s now in his forever home!
Appointments are preferred. After a prospective owner fills out an application the pet is brought out by a staff member to meet them. Having people walk past the kennels puts too much stress on the dogs, so this works well for everyone.
The Posh Pets Rescue Facebook page is filled with stories of animals waiting for homes. If you’re looking to adopt, give extra consideration to the black-haired pets. For reasons Sarah can’t explain, they are usually the last to find homes. Every animal up for adoption at the shelter is neutered, healthy and microchipped. Puppies and kittens are encouraged to be adopted in pairs so they learn proper socialization. Adults can be adopted solo.
The shelter is located at 770 Park Place, the street to the right of Centre Millwork. It’s open 7 days a week and the adoption hours are 12-6. Call 516.431.7674 for an appointment to see a pet—or get information to volunteer.
I have a gut feeling one of these sweet animals will be coming home with me in the near future. Maybe you will too!
Coming up next on Short Stories from Long Beach: Artisanal Bread Bakers coming soon to the West End!