Shoppers to the Source Mall might soon hear woofs and meows as pet rescue organization Pets4Luv prepares to move into a 3,000 square-foot space on the second floor of the building.
The dog and cat rescue adoption center is no stranger to malls, having previously been at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa for 13 months where it helped more than 250 animals find forever homes. Pets4Luv board president Dave Bernacchi said being at a mall gives the organization the benefit of increased visibility.
“We want to have rescues out in front of more people to educate them so they realize you can adopt almost any type of pet you want,”
Bernacchi said. “You don’t have to go to a pet store and purchase, you can adopt.”
At full capacity, their new location at the Source Mall will allow Pets4Luv to house 85 cats and 15 dogs. Most of the rescue’s dogs come from kill shelters, while others come from families who couldn’t take care of them anymore. Cats come from all over. Bernacchi said Pets4Luv puts a special emphasis on “difficult adoptions,” which includes dogs and cats who may be injured, ill or handicapped.
“It seems that more and more of the injured and sick get overlooked,” said Bernacchi, who’s been working with rescues in various capacities for the past 20 years. “A lot of people are taking the young healthy ones and these other ones get ignored.”
Pets4Luv not only tries to get these pets adopted, but rehabilitated. The nonprofit helps provide medical assistance for financially strapped or elderly individuals who adopt an animal but can’t pay for the pet’s medical bills.
Dee Benoit, a Pets4Luv board member, said the rescue is also passionate about giving back to the community. The organization often gets many food donations, so they are hoping to start a food pantry with cat and dog food to help financially strapped pet-owners. They’re also partnering with several organizations to have people with disabilities volunteer at the rescue.
“We want them to come in with mentors to volunteer. Even if that means sitting in an enclosure with dogs and cats and reading to them, that is beneficial to the pets and people,” said Benoit. “We want to be as community based as possible and give back as much as we can.”
However, the costs of running a rescue can quickly add up and medical bills alone can run $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Bernacchi said one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the organization over the years has been lack of funding, as the nonprofit runs solely on donations and the help of volunteers. Bernacchi said he himself has put in $64,000 of his own savings for the organization over the last several years, and other board members have poured in significant amounts of their own money as well.
“All the money goes directly to the animals. People who are involved here have a strong passion for helping animals,” said Bernacchi. “You can’t buy me anything that would make me happier than when a pet is healthy again and in a new home. All the board members feel the same way. It’s not about a quick adoption, it’s about saving animals.”
As they prepare for their opening in two weeks, Bernacchi said the one thing they need most is volunteers. For seven day coverage, the organization needs 40 to 50 volunteers to fill in a variety of duties, including walking the dogs, taking care of the cats, general cleaning and care, animal transport, office work, grant writing, social media and more. The ideal volunteer is someone who loves animals and has time to spare.
“We need adults who are there during the day,” said Benoit. “That’s what we’re looking for desperately right now, anybody who has time that they want to give and if they love animals, we want to welcome them.”
In the future, Bernacchi said they hope to hold adoption events as well as classes where local groups and organizations can learn more about rescue, adoptions and how to care for pets. But most of all, Pets4Luv is about saving animals and helping them find a home.
“This is probably the one business where we’d be happy to go out of business and there’s no need for us,” said Bernacchi. “But unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime.”
To find out more about Pets4Luv, visit www.pets4luv.org.