I’ve been volunteering with Bobbi and the Strays (BATS) animal shelter in Freeport, Long Island for a few years now (they also have a location in Glendale, Queens). And though I don’t post all of my animal outings on my blog, this is one I wanted to share.
Most of the dogs at BATS are pit bulls/pit bull mixes. Many are either found wandering the streets that people bring in, or they’re tied to a pole outside of the shelter. Because of the stigma associated with this breed, it’s often difficult to adopt them out. Add to the fact that many of these dogs are not puppies, the barrier to adoption is compounded.
Volunteering at a shelter can at times be heartbreaking. You see these animals (dogs and cats) who have been abused, neglected, are sick or a combination of all. As an animal lover, you are overcome with sadness and helplessness that you can’t save every one, or at least be in a position to find each of them a loving, stable home. But it’s so important to try to put your emotions aside to be selfless in the time you spend with one of these animals. Due to limited space, the dogs spend 22 hours a day in small kennels. For most dogs, the kennel they stay in are large enough to at least stand and move about a little, but it’s still a harrowing effort in adopting out an animal caged all day long with little socialization.
Being able to give one or two hours, or any length of time, with an animal really does make a world of difference for them, especially with these dogs since they are pack animals that inherently thrive on socialization and interaction with other dogs and people. As often as I can, I will go to BATS and take one of the dogs out for a day’s adventure. Since I am not allowed to have dogs where I live, I plan ahead so I can figure out a place to take them. On this particular day, I decided to spend time with Tony, an American Staffordshire tied up to a pole outside of the shelter along with another dog, which the staff had named Carmella. Carmella was adopted earlier this year, but Tony was still waiting for a home. I took Tony to my favorite dog-friendly place – Gardiner County Park in Bayshore, Long Island – where I had taken other BATS dogs in the past. This park is amazing. I’ve been there many times and have only seen a tiny fraction of the 231 acres which sit along the Great South Bay. The Park has everything you could want, whether or not you have a dog. It’s clean with endless meadows of green grass and trees, has various paths to walk along, there’s a nice covered picnic area, and of course the beach, which the dogs absolutely love, even if they’re afraid of the water! You get a clear view of the Robert Moses Bridge and can see the Fire Island Lighthouse across the bay.
I urge anyone who is contemplating volunteering at a shelter – even if just to give one dog a short walk, or to sit and pet a cat – to do it. Not only is it therapeutic for you, but the animals will enjoy every second, even if they can’t tell you that themselves!
Tony is STILL UP FOR ADOPTION. He gets along with all dogs, but because of his playful nature he’s best suited for medium-larger dogs as he gets overly excited with smaller ones. He’s calm, obedient, great on a leash, and loves being around people. See the pics and videos below and learn more about him on the BATS website