By Howard Koplowitz
For more than half a century, she has committed her life to saving stray dogs and cats throughout Queens.What started out as picking animals off the streets at 9 years old has turned into Bobbi and The Strays, an organization dedicated to animal rescue, in her early sixties. Giordano, of Ozone Park, established her organization in 1998 after she saw a motorist run over a dog on Atlantic Avenue. A sanitation worker who discovered the canine pushed it to the side of the curb with a shovel, and Giordano remembers crying and taking the dog to a city hospital. She rents out space to house animals at Kennedy Airport's Vetport, an animal care facility which also allows travelers to make arrangements to ship their pets on cargo flights. Giordano holds 17 dogs and nine cats at the Vetport, each with their own personalities and needs.Bandit, an Akita picked up off the Belt Parkway, is gentle only with women. Giordano said Bandit would feel most comfortable in a first-floor apartment with a backdoor yard.Maggie, a 5-year-old American Bulldog and one of Giordano's personal favorites, has been calling the Vetport home for three months. She was given up by her owner after they moved.Then there's Dutchess, an Irish Wolfhound that was supposed to star in the musical “Annie,” but she did not get along well with other dogs. Giordano was happy to see that Dutchess found a home last week after staying at the Vetport for two years. Giordano is protective of the dogs as if they were her own children. She will only let someone adopt a pure pedigreed dog like Bandit, Maggie, or Dutchess unless they know about that particular breed.She said the dogs are taken outside for 20 minutes twice a day and occasionally have volunteer dog walkers take them for a stroll.It appears that the dogs' time outside is what they enjoy best. They can be seen barking out of jealousy when they see another dog with a leash on, indicating it returned from being outdoors.As for Giordano, she said the highlight of her day is feeding chicken to the dogs.”That's how they become my friend,” she said.Giordano said she would love to house more “friends.” but as a not-for-profit organization, Bobbi and The Strays is dependent on grants and donations.”I could do four times what I'm doing now if I had the money,” she said.Currently the Vetport is filled to capacity, Giordano said. Four years ago, Bobbi and The Strays had a budget of $49,000. The organization is now operating at three times that amount. Giordano's dream is to be able to set up her own building to the house the animals instead of renting out a portion of the Vetport. Since the organization's inception, Giordano has received support from two local politicians; state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), who provides Giordano with grants to cover medical expenses, and state Assemblywoman Audrey Phfeffer (D-Rockaway Beach).Giordano said she sees her work as more than volunteerism; it is her obligation.”Somebody has to help (the animals). They are like children.”If you are interested in adopting or becoming a foster parent for a dog or cat from Bobbi and The Strays, call Bobbi Giordano at (718) 845-0779 or (917) 213-9840.