Displaced pets find comfort after Sandy


Caring for five dogs requires patience. Caring for five dogs during a superstorm requires a miracle.

When Sandy struck, Kathleen Fessmann and her quintet of dogs — Yogi, Java, Rannie, Katie and Mocha — remained in their Broad Channel home, waiting out the storm. With nowhere to take the pooches, she figured they would stick it out until the rain and wind had passed. The storm wasn’t supposed to be that bad, she thought.

The water rose seven feet, flooding her house, knocking over the fence in her backyard and capsizing the fuel tank in her basement. When two of the dogs became sick from breathing in fumes from the spilled fuel tank, she knew they needed to leave.

Since the storm hit, nearly 300 animals have been rescued by American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) responders, and through pet supply distribution and mobile wellness clinics, the organization assisted nearly 16,000 animals in New York City and Long Island.

“We recognize the great need to help pet owners during this difficult time by temporarily caring for their animals while they get back on their feet,” said Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “The ASPCA is working with local and national animal welfare agencies to assist animals affected by the storm, and we’re grateful to have these valued partners helping us manage the emergency boarding facility and provide relief for both people and pets alike.”

Temporary shelters constructed in the Waldbaum’s parking lot at 112-15 Beach Channel Drive in Belle Harbor and Rockapup at 145 Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park held displaced Queens pets for several weeks after the storm before they were moved to the more permanent kennels in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, which will remain open until December 17.

“The emergency boarding facility allows pet owners the ability to get their lives back together while knowing that their pets are being taken care of,” said ASPCA spokesperson Kelly Krause.

All five of Fessman’s dogs were sent to an interim home at the Sean Casey Animal Shelter in Windsor Terrace before being moved to the ASPCA shelter in Bedford–Stuyvesant. While at the shelter, veterinarians discovered that two of the dogs had enlarged lymph nodes, a side-effect from breathing in the fuel fumes. The ASPCA provided free treatment for both ill animals.

Fessman, a registered nurse, visits her canine clan in their temporary Brooklyn home several times a week. She recently hired a contractor to begin repairs on her home, estimating the dogs will be back in their rightful residence in three weeks.

“It’s been terrible. It’s been bad. I just feel bad for them,” Fessman said. “I can talk about it and get it out of my system but it’s them I feel bad for. It’s just really sad for them, but they’re being taken care of really well.”

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