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Featured Volunteer: Cathy Cole
Tucked away in behind the parking lot in the northwest corner of North Shore Animal League America’s Port Washington, N.Y campus. sits Lewyt’s Ark. The rescue/intake building which houses up to 200 animals, mainly dogs and puppies, at max capacity, it is the main hub for almost all of the animals that arrive each week. Hundreds of newly minted Mutt-i-grees are carefully unloaded off our Mobile Rescue Units and carried into this building in the arms of caring volunteers and rescue associates to start their journeys toward adoption.
One of the volunteers you’ll always find lending a helping hand when rescues arrive is Cathy Cole. For the last 4 ½ years, the former attorney has been donating her time to improving the lives of the puppies and dogs rescued from the inhumanity of life in commercial breeding facilities. Many of these animals spend years of their lives trapped in rusty wire cages, with little to no positive human interaction, and inadequate nutrition, hydration, and medical care – it’s simply a life of continuous breeding for the sake of profit. If these animals are lucky enough to be relinquished when they are no longer useful money makers, the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization makes it our mission to be there with welcoming arms.
This is where Cathy and many other selfless volunteers have the biggest impact on the lives of these homeless animals in desperate need.
“Volunteering in The Ark has really been amazing. I get the chance to get to know many of the dogs who call the building home while they wait to be adopted. You get to learn their personalities and have the chance to build relationships with them, which I truly enjoy,” she said. “The mill rescues are most near and dear to my heart because you see how terrified and reluctant to human contact they are when they first arrive, but as time goes by and you help them to understand humans are good and we are here to help, you see them begin to come out of their shells. I always make it a point to be here when the Mobile Units arrive because it’s important these animals know better days are right around the corner.”
Cathy became so deeply entrenched in caring for the puppies and dogs rescued from commercial breeding facilities that it’s no surprise she wound up falling in love with a very sick Cockapoo rescued from a mill. Not only was this beautiful dog suffering from pneumonia and a heart murmur upon arrival, but our veterinarians also uncovered another surprise upon further inspection.
“Two years ago in October is when I first met Sophie. She was such a gorgeous dog, but it wasn’t hard to see how terrified she was. I immediately took to her and made sure to follow up on her after all her tests at the medical center were complete. Not only was she very sick, but it turned out she was pregnant!”
Sophie spent the remainder of her pregnancy in our Sponsorship Nursery where she eventually gave birth to five beautiful, healthy puppies. While the mama, still recovering from her illnesses, nursed her puppies, Cathy continued to visit her, falling more in love during every encounter. Once she was cleared for adoption, the volunteer with a soft spot for mill rescues, opened up her heart and her home and made the adoption official.
“She is the sweetest, kindest dog. She’s come so far from where she was the day she arrived. It’s unbelievable,” Cathy said. “As a volunteer you see a lot, but the one thing we can hang our hats on is that all of these dogs, no matter the condition they are in when they arrive, will one day find amazing homes. Animal League America’s no-kill promise gives us all hope that we can really make a difference in the lives of these animals. I’d tell anyone thinking about volunteering that you’ll be able to go home after your shift knowing you helped change the world of so many deserving animals.”
If you're interested in learning more about volunteering at North Shore Animal League America, visit animalleague.org/volunteer