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ON THE SCENE: Passionate about pets

August 6, 2011
NAJ WIKOFF, Lake Placid News
Over the years I have owned various cats that were rescued from some unfortunate set of circumstances, usually, though not always, provided to me by some friend who felt I needed the added companionship and that my home would be the perfect place for the feline to take over. Cats do take over. It is amazing how quickly they determine that your home is their home and your job is to tend to their various wants, in return they will allow you to scratch their ears and occasionally bring you a mouse that is not always dead.

One of my current occupants, Lucy, who is an extremely affectionate cat – indeed cannot possibly get enough affection though hates to be picked up, is from the streets of Brooklyn. She followed the legendary Kitty the Cat, who I found sleeping in my apartment when I then lived and worked at the Cathedral St. John the Divine. Kitty became a close pal of my neighbor, the late Bill Gregg, and loved to fence with my other neighbor Ron Briggs. A former girlfriend rescued Kitty, then having some strange Sufi name I could never pronounce, from a couple going through a rather dramatic breakup. I came home one December night to find a black cat curled up on my bed, a by-product of not getting my apartment key returned. The cat gave me the bent eye – one of those who do you think you are my day was far worse stares.

Before Kitty, there was Alice, a white long-haired princess that came from the North Country SPCA, which for some 40 or 50 years has been finding homes for dogs and cats desperately in need of a safe place.

I’ll say one thing for rescued pets and that is they have been around the pike. They have taken a few hits and survived. When you get one of them as a friend, you have a friend for life. The North Country SPCA gets that. They are not in the business of giving up on a dog or a cat that comes into their care, sometimes hanging on to life by a toe-nail and from circumstances that makes you feel that they had been owned by a Hitler incarnate.

The people involved with the North Country SPCA are passionate about what they do and have big hearts. They are in the turnaround and match making business. Once they have rescued and saved a cat or dog, which can take from weeks to months and even years to accomplish, they want no repeat failures. Thus they spend time helping match up people with the right pet.

Their love and passion was on full display the other weekend during their annual Paw Cause benefit, which was held on the lawn of the Keene Valley Lodge.

“I am on the board because I like cats and dogs,” said their President John Sawyers of Schroon Lake. “I am a dog person. I have two labs, a chocolate and a black. They are just like members of the family. They don’t usually talk back by they occasionally do. They are not going to college, so there is a huge savings on that account. I think that for most people, as is true for us, their pets are members of their family.”

“My father was the executive director of a shelter when I was growing up in New Hampshire,” said Fritz Sabbow, a former board member. “So I was involved for many years with a shelter. Ruth Pelmas asked me if I would help and of course I said sure. All our pets are shelter animals. Right now we have two cats and two dogs. The people that support this organization are passionate about what the shelter does for the area.”

“I am involved because I am a complete stark raving animal nut,” said their Vice President Chase Twichell of Keene. “Some of the animals we get have gone from a life that was manageable to one unmanageable. We save them. I think instead of people trying to get a cat or dog to speak human we would all be better off if, we spoke a little dog. They have an intelligence that we can really learn something from. They are able to live in the moment which humans try to do and fail.”

“We are here because of our dog Parker,” said Fairman Thompson. “Parker is an English setter. We are 100 percent behind the efforts of the North Country SPCA.”

“I am a dog nut,” said Harry Grooms. “I absolutely love dogs. I think they are great for your soul.”

“We have a rescue dog,” said Richard Longstreth. “It is a good cause, well worth supporting.”

“And I will do anything that cause asks me to do,” said Harry.

“It does the important task of helping pets find a second home,” said Muriel Luderowski.

“We especially love dogs,” said Pam Thompson. “Whenever I see a stray dog or cat it is, ‘Oh my God! What’s going to happen to that stray dog, or cat?’ What can possible be better than being greeted by Parker who is so happy to see us come home?”

“We raise 85 percent of our budget from donations and fundraising events like this one,” said Margie Reuther, former board president. “The balance comes from adoption fees and from 11, maybe 13, towns where we contract to provide patrol officer services. We have a terrific board and staff. We all work very hard together to reach out and encourage adoptions, to educate people about how to care for pets, and to encourage spay of neuter.”

If you are willing to consider adopting a pet, becoming a volunteer or donating to support the shelter they can be reached at 962-8604, or by email at Their website



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