JFK VETPORT BUILDING TO BE DEMOLISHED
By Conor Greene
For nearly a decade, a local animal rescue group has used rented space in a non- descript building at JFK Airport to house some of the larger dogs it rescues. Now, after finding out their lease won’t be renewed at the end of the year, the group is desperately seeking the public’s help to raise money for a new building.
Bobbi and the Strays, a Queens-based no kill shelter that rescues dogs and cats, has used the space in JFK’s Vetport for about nine years, paying a modest monthly rent, according to founder Bobbi Giordano. For the past few years, the owners of the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale have donated space where cats and smaller breeds of dogs are kept.
Earlier this year, the group received the devastating news that the Port Authority plans to raze a series of buildings at the airport, including the one used to house two dozen pit bulls, rottweilers and other large dogs saved from the streets, city Animal Care and Control shelters and owners who no longer can care for them. Bobbi and the Strays has since kicked off a fundraising effort in hopes of garnering enough support to buy a building in the area.
“Everything we’ve looked at, we can’t afford,” said Giordano. “We’re at a standstill. The lease is up on December 31st, and I don’t know what is going to happen. We heard rumors there might be an extension, but we haven’t seen anything in writing.”
So far, donations large and small have been coming in from friends and other supporters of the group. A Halloween party at a local bar also proved successful, said Giordano.
If the group finds itself without a home for the larger dogs come January 1, they will be placed with local vets and with foster families. “I’m not giving them to another shelter,” said Giordano. “You get close to them, we spend time with them, and we have very good volunteers that put a lot into them.”
“We’re an absolute no kill shelter,” said Giordano. “We do home checks, take them off the streets, from nursing homes, from people who die, and look for homes for them, do their medical, spay, neuter, shots. We really go the extra miles.” Of course, even in their current situation, space is always an issue. “As soon as one goes out, another two come in, that’s just the way it is,” she said.
In their quest to raise enough money for a new building, Giordano said that any donation, no matter how small, is welcomed. “You can send a dollar, five dollars, that would really help. It’s a long way off, but if everybody in Queens sent in a dollar or two, we would have the money.”
In the meantime, volunteers and staff members have tried to keep the possibility they will be scrambling to find space for the rescued dogs out of their minds. “We rely heavily on that building – without it we would not be able to take in those animals,” said Laura Miller, who manages the shelter at the Vetport. “We save a lot [of dogs] by having that space there.”
Without that space, the group would have to immediately find a foster family for any dog it rescues, explained Miller. “Here, we can take them in right away… We need to raise the money. There is no other option in my mind. We’re on a mission and are going to raise the money.”
Anybody who wishes to contribute to the building foundation can mail a check directly to Bobbi and the Strays at PO Box 170129, Ozone Park, NY, 11417. For more information, check their website at bobbiandthestrays.