A dog at the Riverhead shelter on Youngs Avenue in December. File photo: Denise Civiletti

For many years the Mattituck-Laurel Veterinary Hospital has donated services to help shelter animals, in particular the animals at the North Fork Animal Welfare League’s Riverhead shelter.

And now, thanks to a fundraising idea concocted by Elaine James, Mattituck-Laurel Veterinary Hospital’s practice manager, more money will be raised to move the Riverhead shelter to a new location in Calverton. The Riverhead shelter is a dilapidated facility in great disrepair, located across from a closed landfill site and next to a waste processing plant. A new shelter is in the works at the old Henry Pfiefer Community Center in Calverton. 

Half of the $1 million price tag for the new facility has been raised already, including a $300,000 bequest from Mattituck resident Patricia Troxel and $200,000 from NFAWL fundraisers. The Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter campaign headed by Denise Lucas has been dissolved, but they have donated the remaining money in their coffers — about $70,000 — toward the new shelter.

James wants to help to raise some of the remaining cost.

When she began work at the animal hospital in March, James brought with her 29 years of experience not only caring for animals, but also running fundraisers. After finding out about the condition of the Riverhead animal shelter and the efforts to move the shelter to a new location, she came up with a unique idea for raising funds: the Shelter Helpers campaign.

“I’m very big on giving back to the shelters,” said James. “Mattituck-Laurel Veterinary Hospital is very generous to the shelter and knowing that the North Fork Animal Welfare League needed money for the new Riverhead shelter, I just came up with this idea.”

The Shelter Helpers fundraiser is a two-part campaign to raise funds. The first part is a community yard sale to be held on Sunday, September 17 at the MLVH’s Laurel location.

“We’re asking people to dig through their closets, basements and garages for items to donate for the yard sale,” said James.

Donations can be dropped off at the MLVH any time between now and September 15 during regular business hours. They’re also accepting furniture, which can be brought to the location on the morning of the yard sale.

The second part of the campaign involves participation by local businesses.

“We’re asking local businesses to donate 5 percent of their sales made on Sunday, September 17 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” she explains, but stresses that this is just a suggestion. “We’ll accept any involvement by local businesses; any donation no matter how they want to do it,” she says.

According to NFAWL executive director Gillian Pultz, it couldn’t come at a better time.

“This is the closest we’ve ever been to getting the new Riverhead shelter and I’m really excited,” said Pultz. “The Henry Pfeifer Community Center and surrounding property is owned by Riverhead and will continue to be owned by the Town of Riverhead . We’ve already signed all the paperwork and done all the legal work to get a land lease agreement with them. They’re going to lease the land to us long-term at no cost and we will renovate the building, which the town will continue to own.”

The community center is not suitable for housing dogs, Pultz said, so a new building will be constructed for kennels and the center will be used to house cats, training areas and offices.

All money raised from the yard sale will go to the NFAWL’s general fund, said Pultz. The Shelter Helper money raised by local businesses will all go toward the new Riverhead facility.

Pultz is hopeful that since most of the governmental hurdles have been jumped, the new shelter is that much closer to being finished.

“The final permit we’re waiting for is from the Suffolk County Department of Health for the septic system,” she said.

Pultz is thrilled about the latest fundraising efforts and expressed her appreciation for everything the MLVH has done.

“We’re so thankful to MLVH for all their support and all the care they give to our sheltered animals, especially our Riverhead animals,” she said.

The Mattituck-Laurel Veterinary Hospital is located at 940 Franklinville Road in Laurel. Yard sale items can be brought in during regular business hours, Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are closed on Sundays. Furniture should be brought in at 9 a.m. on the day of the sale, September 17.

The yard sale runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information contact Elaine James at 631 298-1177.

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