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Our Story

//Our Story
Our Story 2018-04-20T12:11:25+00:00

Our Life Saving Lineage

1944

Roots of Rescue

North Shore Animal League and Dog Protective Association, Inc., led by animal advocate Marianne H. Sanders, begins rescuing homeless animals in and around the Town of North Hempstead, Long Island. The Association dedicates itself to the no-kill philosophy.

1945

Rubber Meets the Road to Rescue

Rubber Meets the Road to Rescue

Buys first vehicle, a station wagon.

1953

Building a Foundation

Acquires two lots and a house in Port Washington; begins planning shelter construction.

1956

Expansion = Limitless Opportunities

Shelter is completed; group purchases local homes to expand offices.

1960

Keeping Our No-Kill Promise

As Long Island grows, the Association must choose between handling animal control and remaining no-kill. It chooses no-kill. As a result, it loses lucrative animal control contracts and suffers a serious drop in revenue.

1969

Lewyt Family Creates Lasting Legacy

Name changes to North Shore Animal League, Inc. Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt become more involved in day-to-day operations, helping the Association regain financial stability. Lewyts recruit their neighbor, popular singer and dog-lover Perry Como, as celebrity chairman of a successful membership drive. Alex Lewyt becomes President and Chairman of the Board of Directors.

1974

Life Saving Movement Begins

Life Saving Movement Begins

Elisabeth Lewyt begins driving her “Love-A-Pet” van from pound to pound to rescue pets, paying $12 a piece for each dog the pounds will release.

1978

The Birth of Compassionate Care

The Birth of Compassionate Care

Establishes small medical center on the premises.

1980

Broadening Our Reach

Humanely relocates animals from the ASPCA in New York City and other municipal shelters on Long Island to the safety of its no-kill shelter.

1982

Puppies Make Everyone Smile

Puppies Make Everyone Smile

Launches outreach program — volunteers and associates visit nursing homes, senior citizen centers, etc., where puppies and therapy dogs bring joy and comfort to residents.

1987

Faithful Volunteers Spark a Movement

Elisabeth Lewyt’s Pound Rescue Team grows from one volunteer to dozens, saving thousands of animals from municipal shelters.

1988

A Passing of the Torch

Alex Lewyt dies. Elisabeth Lewyt is named Chairperson of the Board of Directors, a position she holds until her death.

1991

A New Era of Rescue Begins

Celebrates grand opening of new adoption center and Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center. Launches nationwide National Shelter Relocation Program, the first to work with overcrowded shelters in the South, welcoming animals slated for euthanasia. Today this program is widely imitated, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

1992

Networking to Save Lives

Launches Pet Savers® Foundation, with a revolutionary Cooperative Advertising Program that supports local advertising and provides advertising grants for other shelters to encourage adoptions. First such advertising campaign in the country.

1993

A New Leader Emerges

A New Leader Emerges

J. John Stevenson becomes President.

Spearheading the Spay/Neuter Movement

Spearheading the Spay/Neuter Movement

Introduces SpayUSA®, the first and largest nationwide network providing referral and information about affordable spay/neuter services.

Remembering Our Seniors

Develops Seniors for Seniors Program, which enables senior citizens to adopt well-matched senior pets, with some veterinary costs covered.

1995

First-of-its-Kind Adoption Event Saves 525 Lives

First-of-its-Kind Adoption Event Saves 525 Lives

Conducts its first annual Pet Adoptathon®, saving 525 lives.

1997

All Animals Deserve a Chance at Life

Establishes monthly donation Sponsor Program, providing ongoing care for special-needs animals.

1998

Rolling Into A Lifesaving Future

Acquire the first state-of-the-art Mobile Adoption Unit.

1999

Mobile Adoption Units Create Limitless Possibilities

Mobile Adoption Units Create Limitless Possibilities

Uses new Mobile Adoption Unit. to pioneer two off-site adoption programs: Mobile Adoption Program (MAP), which transports our pets to high-traffic areas, leading to countless adoptions; and Cooperative Adoption Program (CAP), through which we share our mobile units with small rescue groups and shelter partners, saving even more lives.

2000

North Shore Animal League Expands Across America

Name changes to North Shore Animal League America, Inc., reflecting growing national scope of programs.

Nourishing Pets. Enriching Lives.

Purina begins its support by donating food and litter needed for all pets in the Adoption Center.

2001

Inaugural Tour For Life® Spans the Country

Inaugural Tour For Life® Spans the Country

With Purina as sponsor, completes first Tour for Life®. One mobile unit travels “From the Golden Gate to the Empire State,” saving more than 200 animals. Purina also becomes sponsor of worldwide Pet Adoptathon®.

2002

Expanding the Fleet

Laura J. Niles Foundation donates funding for second mobile adoption unit.

2003

Loyal Supporters Fund Exciting, New Addition

Loyal Supporters Fund Exciting, New Addition

Don and Karen LaRocca donate funds and design the dog park.

2004

Ultimate Supporter Begins Her Journey

Ultimate Supporter Begins Her Journey

Volunteer Beth Stern becomes official spokesperson, raising our profile and generating countless rescues and adoptions.

2005

Medical Center Expands Service

The Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center expands its ongoing care of shelter animals and new adoption rechecks by opening its doors to community pets for exams and surgery.

Ready at a Moment’s Notice

Ready at a Moment’s Notice

Emergency Rescue Team is one of the first agencies on site to assist local shelters after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. League subsequently creates the Katrina Animal Rescue Fund.

2007

Combatting the Inhumanity of Puppy Mills

Combatting the Inhumanity of Puppy Mills

Launches Mill Dog Rescue.

2008

A New Curriculum For Humane Education

Our Pet Savers Foundation partners with Yale University School of the 21st Century and the Cesar Millan Foundation to develop and pilot test the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, a groundbreaking Prek-Grade 12 program that links humane education and social and emotional learning

We Have A Word For It!

Introduce the term Mutt-i-gree to define any dog, cat, puppy, or kitten adopted into a responsible, loving home – or still waiting for that perfect family. The word generates a new phenomenon, the Mutt-i-grees Movement.

Our Emergency Rescue Team Knows No Boundaries

Emergency Rescue Team responds to hurricanes Gustav and Ike along the Gulf Coast. League brings more than 100 dogs to safety from a West Virginia puppy mill.

2010

The Curriculum Launches

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is launched at a national conference at Yale University and dissemination of the program begins. Jeter, the Curriculum’s first School Dog, is adopted from Animal League America and begins his “career” in California.

Run Beth, Run!

Run Beth, Run!

Beth Stern runs the ING NYC Marathon, raising nearly $300,000 for the League.

2011

Smile!

Smile!

Creation of the Marvin M. Fried Dental Suite.

Welcome Aboard “Ziggy’s Truck”

The Freed Foundation (Elizabeth Freed) donates a much-needed new Mobile Adoption Unit, which Elizabeth dubs “Ziggy’s Truck” in honor of her beloved Jack Russell Terrier whom she adopted from Animal League America.

2012

Always Ready When Called Upon

Emergency Response Team tackles two major natural disasters: Hurricane Sandy, in our own backyard, and Colorado wildfires.

The Passing of a Special Woman

Elisabeth Lewyt, an early leader with her husband, dies at age 99.

Mutt-i-grees Get Their Papers

Mutt-i-grees Get Their Papers

Animal League America announces the Mutt-i-grees Registry, world’s first registry for shelter dogs and cats. Goal: to raise status of shelter pets, encourage adoption, and reinforce the fact that every Mutt-i-gree is unique and worthy of respect, care, and love.

2013

Providing Relief in Wake of Natural Disasters

Emergency Response Team goes to Moore, Okla., following EF5 tornadoes, to work with local groups rescuing pets displaced by the storms.

Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum Flourishes

More than 2,000 schools use the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum in the U.S. and Canada. Also implemented in libraries, animal shelters, and after school programs.

Love And Purpose

Our National Spokesperson Beth Stern begins her amazing career as a volunteer foster parent.

State-Of-The-Art Future For Felines

State-Of-The-Art Future For Felines

On Nov. 22, National Spokesperson Beth Stern announces fundraising campaign for Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center (BFF) at Gala.

2014

Happy Anniversary!

We celebrate 70 years as the leader of the no-kill shelter movement.

The Tour Rolls On

The 2014 Tour for Life® travels more than 17,000 miles and helps place more than 2,500 pets into loving homes.

Record Number of Animals Find Homes

Pet Adoptathon® 2014 places more than 30,000 animals in loving homes around the world.

Piano Man Sings a Song for Animal League America

Piano Man Sings a Song for Animal League America

Musical legend and League adopter Billy Joel dedicates proceeds from his huge 65th Birthday Concert in Madison Square Garden to BFF campaign.

Thank You, Rachael!

Ribbon cutting for new mobile unit donated by Rachael Ray’s rescue group, Rachael’s Rescue, brings the number of rescue units to seven.

A Lifesaving Milestone Reached

Puppy Mill Rescue efforts exceed 2,500 lives saved.

Felines Are Mutts!

Felines Are Mutts!

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum introduces Cats Are Mutt-i-grees 2, broadening the scope of this popular humane education program.

Cats and Coffee: The Pur-fect Pairing

League joins with PurinaOne® to host America’s first Cat Café, leading to many “cat’acchinos” and the adoption of 24 adult cats.

Lifesaving Leadership In The Classroom

The Curriculum introduces the Mutt-i-grees National Student Ambassadors Program to recognize caring student advocates and to encourage more students to work for shelter pets across the country.

The Kick Off Of A Winning Tradition

The Kick Off Of A Winning Tradition

League joins with Hallmark Channel to air first annual Kitten Bowl.

2015

Taking The Initiative For Felines

Taking The Initiative For Felines

Launch of the North Country Initiative (NCI) in upstate New York. Program takes multi-pronged, no-kill, sustainable approach to feline overpopulation in the region.

A New Campaign For Compassion

Launch Get Your Rescue On Campaign to encourage everyone to make rescue a part of life.

On The Path To A No-Kill Future

On The Path To A No-Kill Future

We announce the addition of the word Educate to our mission — Rescue, Nurture, Adopt, Educate — in recognition of our commitment to humane education and the evolution of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum.

Lifesaving Miles With Our Friends At Purina

Our 15th Annual Tour For Life, sponsored once again by Purina, covers 19,000 miles and helps 1,758 pets find responsible, loving homes.

Growing A Global Adoptathon

Our 21st annual Global Pet Adoptathon generates more than 25,000 adoptions worldwide, including 481 during our 36-hour kickoff weekend at our Long Island Adoption Center.

Partnering With Hallmark Channel

Partnering With Hallmark Channel

Beth Stern hosts February’s Kitten Bowl II and July’s Paw Star Game on Hallmark Channel.

A New Chapter for Mutt-i-grees

The Curriculum forges a new relationship with the New York Public Library and its 92 locations throughout the city.

2016

A New Facility For Healing

A New Facility For Healing

In February the Freed Special Recovery Center opens, offering secure and comfortable isolation to protect our pet population and speed healing.

Canines In The Classroom

Canines In The Classroom

Launched in 2010, the Mutt-i-grees School Dog Programs expands to include 42 schools in the New York City public school system. Schools in Arkansas, New Jersey, Connecticut, and many other states have also introduced School Dogs.

Recognition Of Medical Excellence

North Shore Animal League America’s Pet Health Center earns the accreditation from the prestigious American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Fewer than 15 percent of animal hospitals in the U.S. hold this distinction.

Cat-letes Reach Millions

Cat-letes Reach Millions

Kitten Bowl III reaches more than 1.3 million “furball” fans, thanks to Volunteer, Foster Parent, and National Spokesperson Beth Stern and our friends at Hallmark Channel. Kitten Bowl Parties at shelters across the country lead to many adoptions. Hallmark also broadcasts Kitten Summer Games, reaching a huge audience.

Responding To Disaster

Emergency Response Team assists victims of natural disasters in Louisiana and North Carolina.

We’re Reaching Around The World

Global Pet Adoptathon reaches all 50 states and every continent in the world — except Antarctica! — to generate an amazing 39,658 adoptions.

International Rescue Grows

Our international rescue program saves 346 dogs — from the Cayman Islands to Moscow — including pups from Thailand who were in danger of becoming victims of the dog meat trade.

2017

Kudos For The Curriculum

Kudos For The Curriculum

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is selected as one of 100 most innovative educational programs globally by HundrED. It is named as one of the 25 best social and emotional learning programs in the country by Harvard University and the Wallace Foundation.

A Home Of Its Own

A Home Of Its Own

We open a new adoption center in Glens Falls, N.Y., to support the work of the Northern Country Initiative (NCI). Called the Adirondack Region Cat Rescue and Adoption Center the 4,300-square-foot facility can accommodate up to 50 felines.

Moving Forward For Felines

A groundbreaking ceremony for Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center marks the start of construction.

A New Online Look

A New Online Look

We debut our exciting new, user friendly website.

Raising Our Social Media Presence

Raising Our Social Media Presence

Sound the trumpets: Our Facebook followers reach the one million mark!

Stand With Us!

Our petition against the Yulin (China) Dog Meat “Festival” generates nearly 60,000 signatures from around the world. In addition, our International Rescue Program transports 16 dogs from the horrors of the Yulin (China) Dog Meat “Festival” to the safety of our Adoption Center. We also continue to rescue from Thailand.

2018

Pet Health Centers Take Center Stage

Pet Health Centers Take Center Stage

The Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center, the Freed Special Recovery Center, and the Karen and Don LaRocca Pet Wellness Center are re-branded as the Pet Health Centers at North Shore Animal League America.

Only The Best For Wellness

The state-of-the-art Don and Karen LaRocca Pet Wellness Center opens, providing the latest veterinary medical treatments including aqua therapy.

The Curriculum Supports Compassion At Home

The Curriculum Supports Compassion At Home

The Mutt-i-grees At Home handbook is published, highlighting ways parents can promote empathy and raise awareness of shelter pets. Disseminated to parents and families, the handbook is also used by state agencies and child and family services.

Mutt-i-grees On The March

To date, the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum and its supplemental programs have been implemented in more than 4,000 schools and libraries in all 50 states, including Washington D.C., and Canada.

The Curriculum’s New Website

The Curriculum’s New Website

Launch of a redesigned website reflecting the growth of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum and its potential as a global initiative.

We Don’t Forget

Nearly a year after hurricanes devastated Texas, Louisiana, and the Caribbean, we continue to work with shelter partners in the region to bring stranded and abandoned pets to safety, including homeless kittens rescued from the streets.