Written by Katherine M. Trager Friday, 03 December 2010 00:00
This past year has been a whirlwind of activity and exciting events for Forgotten Friends of Long Island (FFLI) Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation. With continued support from its donors, members and volunteers, FFLI has been able to expand its mission of rescuing the most disadvantaged animals from local municipal shelters.
Dogs and cats suffering from illness, injury, disability, abuse or neglect, or who continue to be overlooked and are consequently scheduled for euthanasia, are the animals of greatest concern to FFLI. Through the efforts of FFLI and its supporters, the animals in its care receive necessary medical treatment and therapy as well as the love and dignity that many of them have never before experienced. Through its careful and conscientious adoption screening process, FFLI is dedicated to matching each animal to its ideal “forever home.”
“Our mission reflects the belief that no life should ever be forgotten,” says FFLI President and Co-Founder Loretta Rinaldo. “FFLI believes that no animal should be unloved, nor is unlovable. We do not shy away from taking old, sick or ‘difficult’ dogs and cats into our program.”
FFLI was formed in 2008 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All members serve on a strictly volunteer basis so that 100 percent of all donations are used directly to help animals in need. The group began and continues to serve as a dog rescue and rehabilitation organization, and was recently able to broaden its efforts with a cat rescue component. This year, it opened two new cat shelters and adoption centers through the efforts of coordinator Elissa Oppedisano. One center is located at PetSmart in West Babylon and one is within the local Pet Supplies “Plus” store in Westbury.
The Pet Supplies “Plus” center, known as “Kitty Korner,” houses about 16 cats at a time. Many of the cats were pulled from euthanasia lists at other shelters or were found after being abandoned by former owners. The cats have been vaccinated, spayed/neutered and are ready for adoption. While they wait to be adopted, the cats enjoy playing together and cuddling with the volunteers, who clean, feed and socialize them.
“If you’re having a bad day, just coming in to spend time with these guys is enough to turn your day around,” said volunteer Gale Griffiths.
One of the most popular Kitty Korner residents and FFLI success stories is “Tom,” a cat who was scheduled for euthanasia at NYC Animal Care & Control for injuries to his right front leg. FFLI interceded to provide him with medical care and support. Although his leg could not be saved, his life was. He has adapted very well to the change in his mobility.
“Tom does not consider himself as being limited or impaired, and neither do we,” said Rinaldo.
Tom’s unique personality and antics are an endless source of amusement for both volunteers and visitors to Kitty Korner and have earned him the designation of “the best cat ever.” He has been a “spokescat” for several fundraisers and is currently available for adoption to a loving home.
FFLI’s successes in 2010 were celebrated on Nov. 13 with FFLI’s annual holiday party and fundraiser at VFW Post 3211 in Hicksville. About 200 people joined together at the standing-room-only event. Organization members, volunteers, supporters and members of the community enjoyed a free and delicious Italian dinner and dessert. Attendees also had many opportunities for fun and excitement while simultaneously helping FFLI. Donations of jewelry, electronics, holiday gift baskets and home-baked goods were sold through a huge raffle, silent auction and bake sale. Raffle winners excitedly clutched their tickets as they rushed to claim prizes.
“I love going to these events because it’s a great way to have fun and, at the same time, meet other people who also care about helping animals,” said Lynn Tiscione, a Kitty Korner volunteer and an organizer of the event.
The event also took on an emotional and reflective element when a video presentation was shown of the work done by FFLI. Before-and-after photos were shown of abused and injured animals that would have been euthanized before ever having a chance at knowing love and care. Because of FFLI, the animals were rescued and nursed back to health, with many adopted into devoted families.
Many audience members wept openly together. Tears of indignation at the animals’ prior suffering turned to tears of joy at their beautiful transformations into healthy, happy dogs and cats.
“Everyone in this room is an angel,” Rinaldo told a packed audience. “Whether you contribute monetary donations to cover veterinary bills, open your home to foster animals, volunteer your time to care for our shelter dogs and cats, donate items for our raffles and garage sales or simply spread the word about our mission, you make it possible for us to give these animals the life and love that they deserve.”
This holiday season, FFLI encourages community members thinking about adopting a pet to remember shelter animals in need of homes rather than using the services of breeders or stores that sell dogs and cats for a profit. FFLI is also in extreme need of foster homes for dogs and cats that are waiting to be adopted. All foster care expenses are covered by FFLI.
FFLI also strongly encourages pet owners to spay and neuter their pets to help stop the cycle of homeless animals.
For more information on donating, fostering, volunteering or adoptions, please visit www.forgottenfriendsoflongisland.org.