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On Saturday Sept. 21, the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter, located at 75 Marino Avenue, opened its gates for its second successful open house. Visitors smiled and waved at the oversized pooch, Pongo, aka Peter McDonnell, who greeted everyone cheerfully despite the incredible heat trapped inside his furry black and white costume. In the tree-lined grounds visitors were offered refreshments and younger visitors clamored for the free face paintings, tattoos, Frisbees, balloons and more. Among the many visitors who could be seen were Supervisor May Newburger and acting commissioner of public safety, Edward Neidich, enjoying the fun events and the fine weather.

The Open House event was an opportunity to meet the people who work and volunteer at the shelter and the adorable canine residents who are waiting for the right family to come in and take them home. The shelter, part of the Town of North Hempstead's Department of Public Safety, is responsible for the town's stray and unwanted dogs, and under the directorship of Sue Hassett, has a highly effective dog adoption program. In addition to the staff, the shelter has a volunteer group, The Shelter Connection that attracts scores of volunteers who enjoy the interaction with both dogs and people.

Current and potential dog owners had an opportunity to meet and talk to experts on many canine related issues. Red Cross volunteer Charlene Johns discussed the emergency animal shelter service, recently pioneered in Nassau by the Pet Safe Taskforce to ensure that in the event of an evacuation, pets as well as people are provided with a safe haven. Canine Dental Hygienist Lauren Cuprill and local vet, Dr. Vick LaGinestra answered health related questions and knowledgeable volunteers taught safety around dogs and described the different characteristics of each breed, an important consideration when choosing a dog to fit with an owner's lifestyle.

The most popular events were without a doubt the obedience training, by professional dog trainer and shelter volunteer Roseanne Palumbo and a fun "Pet Parade" showing-off some of the shelter's current residents. The dogs were introduced with a humorous personal ad style commentary that highlighted the type of companion each one is seeking. For many dogs such as Reggie, a cute terrier cross, the pet parade exposure worked wonders and they have since been adopted into loving homes. For others such as Mocha, who has lived at the shelter since January, Mr. Right has still not come forward and so they continue to appeal for a home to call their own.

The success of the day could be measured by the smiling faces and by the joy of two families who found the dog of their dreams. Beaming faces and good wishes followed Pearl, a petite black female mix and Socks, a lively male collie cross as they trotted off, tails wagging with their new owners. The dogs that remain at the shelter can be visited, Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 4 p.m. They can also be seen on the Internet at http://www.northhempstead.com.


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