By Tammy Scileppi
“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” — Abraham Lincoln
For the past 20 years, animal lover Kathleen Thelian has been on a mission: rescuing abandoned dogs and stray cats. The Forest Hills resident has always had a special place in her heart for mistreated animals and has found homes for many. If they could speak, they would probably bark or meow their heartfelt thanks.
Thelian believes that more people need to stand up for homeless stray cats and dogs, whose numbers are growing by the day. “Most of these animals were pets once, then abandoned on the streets,” she said.
While many New Yorkers adopt rescues on a regular basis, Thelian says many folks don’t seem to understand that these animals are homeless largely because of us.
“Whether it is because we did not neuter and spay them, or because we have become tired of them and just let them go, being a stray cat or dog was not of their own volition,” the animal rights advocate said.
As a loving, devoted pet parent to four rescues — her two dogs Toby Keith and Gunner and two formerly feral cats — Thelian fears that some pet owners may forget that having a pet is like family. It’s a lifelong commitment.
And instead of shooing away an old stray, she hopes maybe the next time some kind person might put down a can of food or small bowl of water.
“These cats did not ask to have to live in a parking lot outside in the elements — rain, snow, unbearable heat and cold weather. So if I can make it a little easier on them by providing shelter, food and water, I feel that is the least I can do,” said Thelian, who has given generously to many rescue places and animal shelters.
When she is not rescuing animals, Thelian works as a banquet sales manager at Douglaston Manor. She has been in the banquet business for 26 years.
“I enjoy meeting new people and helping them plan their events,” she noted. In her spare time, she also very much enjoys horseback riding and photography.
This Queens hero has touched the hearts of many with her efforts and contributions to save the dogs and cats left behind.
“It is an honor to accept this award because I have a deep passion for all animals. Maybe this will help make people aware of the struggles that all these defenseless, homeless strays have to endure,” Thelian said.
“We can fix this problem by being a little more proactive when it comes to taking a pet into our home,” she said, cautioning that it’s “not a just for now commitment.”