2009-11-13 / Letters

Stray Rescued By Pooch Lovers

Dear Editor,

As many pet owners in Rockaway may know, we are fortunate to have the use of Freeway Park, one of the city's largest off-leash dog parks, right here on Rockaway Freeway and Beach 82 Street. Last week, when Richard Colombo entered the park with his two dogs for their regular evening exercise, he noticed a female pit bull running loose in the park without an owner. While the dog ap - peared to be friendly towards hu - mans, it was unclear if she was ag - gres sive towards other dogs, so as a precaution, Colombo coaxed the stray into the enclosed small dog section of the park. As other dogs and owners entered, he asked them if they were familiar with the dog or if they knew how she got there. None of the regular visitors to the park had ever seen this dog before. It was apparent that she had recently given birth and whelped a litter. It was also apparent that some one had bred the dog and then disposed of her. Colombo gave the dog a sandwich that he had in his car. He went home and came back with a bowl and some food and water. He then left the dog locked in the en clos - ed section of the park. When he got home, he sent out an email alert to ARF-ARF members with the dog's pic ture. A call was placed to animal control. The C.C.A.C. representative explained that the shelter had so many abandoned pit bulls that the dog would probably have to be put down within 48 hours.

A decision was made to hold the dog in the park for another day in the hope of finding a suitable home. The dog was very sweet and friendly. For - tunately, Miguel Contreras, who brings his own three pit bulls to the park for exercise on a regular basis, came by. He went in to pet the dog and instantly bon - ded with the abandoned female. Contreras " went home to check with his wife, then returned to the park, leash in hand, and took the stray home. He agreed to foster the dog until a proper home could be found. In the end, the foundling seemed to adjust well to Con treras' three other pit bulls and he decided to keep her. He named his new family member, Gaea.

ARF-ARF, the dog owner group that oversees activities in Freeway Park, is a strong proponent of a spay/neuter policy for all animals as a method of insuring the health and well-being of pets and as an important method of decreasing the large number of homeless animals presently in shelters or waiting on death row. On Halloween there will be a special Canine Cos - tume Event in the park. North Shore Animal League will be present with a mobile unit full of healthy puppies and adult dogs available for adoption to good homes. The Mayor's Council for New York Animals will also be pres ent to microchip pets so that their owners can be found in the event they are lost and the ASPCA will provide free/low cost spaying and neutering to pet owners who arrive before 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. Contreras plans to return to the park with Gaea and have her spayed. Thanks to Mig - uel Carreras and the concerned animal lovers who frequent the dog park, Gaea's story will have a happy ending. It is unconscionable that un scru - pulous individuals, as well as puppy mills, use animals strictly for purposes of breeding and then dispose of them. Here in Rockaway, dogs and cats are constantly abandoned and left to starve or lose their lives under the wheels of automobiles.

Rockaway pet owners have a beautiful park where they can bring their pets to socialize and exercise. It is un - fortunate that so few pet owners take advantage of this wonderful facility right here on our peninsula. As a foun ding member of ARF-ARF, I would like to thank people like Richard Colombo and Miguel Con - treras for their efforts on Gaea's be - half. Thanks to them an innocent life has been saved. Hopefully, this situation will never occur again. How ever, in the event of a similar occurrence, ARF-ARF has partnered with Bobbi and the Strays, a local no-kill shelter, to provide a viable solution.

SUSAN JASPER

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