North Shore Animal League America has been saving the lives of dogs and cats since 1944. Long Islanders know the shelter as a popular adoption spot, but it's also the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption shelter in the world. Here are 12 other facts about the shelter that you might not know.
More than a million animals saved
According to the North Shore Animal League America, it has rescued over a million animals since its beginnings in 1944 under animal advocate Marianne H. Sanders. She won the bid in 1946 to serve as the Town of North Hempstead shelter with a no-kill policy for dogs, and held that contract for 13 years, surrendering it in the 1960s to continue on as a no-kill facility. (The NSAL's first official vehicle, circa 1945.)
Moving beyond 'North Shore'
This is not a secret--but for Long Islanders who grew up with the "North Shore Animal League" (as seen in this undated photo) this fact might sound unfamiliar: the preferred nickname for what is now known as North Shore Animal League America is "Animal League America," minus any mention of "North Shore." In other words, the social media handle is @AnimalLeague; the proper hashtag is #AnimalLeagueAmerica.
Newsday was there
Newsday announced the beginnings of what was then called the "North Shore Chapter of the Nassau Animal League" in November 1943 at its inauguration.
NSALA: taking it to the street
The impact of what North Shore Animal League American does is also visible on the roads of the greater New York metro area, as the organization physically introduces people off Long Island to adoptable cats and dogs with mobile adoption units (pictured). These vehicles take part in events on most weekends, and anyone looking to catch the NSALA on the street should check the website or social media for event scheduling.
Kitten Bowl is an annual hit
Believe it or not, Super Bowl Sunday wasn't always a day to catch cute kittens goof around on TV. It was 2014 that the first annual Kitten Bowl aired, and come 2019 the feline scrimmage will return, once again hosted by TV personality, model and philanthropist Beth Stern. However, the televised event is only the beginning as the NSALA hosts Kitten Bowl parties across the USA with partnering shelters.
She's one serious (yet smiling) spokesperson
Beth Stern has become synonymous with North Shore Animal League America, serving as its celebrity spokesperson--and she even blogs for the company. Beth and her famous (and native Long Islander) husband Howard Stern have adopted and fostered several NSALA cats. She does appearances in the media to help spread the word and hosts major events that attract even more celebrity-powered support (a 2018 benefit in Amagansett alone featured appearances by the Sterns plus Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmy Fallon, David Spade and Alec Baldwin, among other notable people)--but Stern also puts in work hours at the actual shelter, devoting time to the animal residents.
'Mr. Nice Guy' was the first
Before Beth Stern was the celebrity most associated with the NSALA, that title went to singer and entertainer Perry Como, who was the first famous face to fight for the future of animals at what was then the North Shore Animal League back in 1969--three years before Beth Stern was even born. (Pictured: In this June 19, 1955 photo, Como visits Annette Baima, 6, from Brooklyn, at the St. Francis Hospital and Sanitorium for Cardiac Children.)
Meet the Lewyts
Como, a known animal supporter, was reportedly recruited by his Sands Point neighbors the late Alexander and Elisabeth "Babette" Lewyt (pictured here in their home, May 1980). Mr. Lewyt, who became the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of what was the North Shore Animal League, was first known for inventing a vacuum cleaner that didn't scramble (pre-cable, pre-streaming) television signals, meaning you could both vacuum and watch TV without the picture getting fuzzy. The Lewyts are widely recognized for making the NSALA a continued success through aggressive work and use of the media to promote adoptions. The Lewyts may have both passed, but their name lives on at the Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center in Port Washington, and with the annual Lewyt Humane Awards ceremony, which honors those whose treatment of animals matches the mission of NSALA.
Helping via posts and tweets
Social media is an assuredly great way to view photos of cats and dogs looking for homes--but did you know you can use it to volunteer for North Shore Animal League America as well? Anipals are people who use their personal platforms to help spread the organization's message, and you can become one whether you live on Long Island or anywhere else social media is a thing, which is pretty much Earth at this point. Apply for an Anipal gig at animalleague.org/get-involved/anipals.
Oh, so that's Bianca!
Another name you might encounter around the NSALA is "Bianca." Currently under construction at the NSALA Port Washington campus is the planned Bianca's Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center. The 14-thousand square-foot facility will have cage-free arrangments for felines, as well as grooming and examination abilities, kitten adoption capacity and veterinary services. However, its name "Bianca" is actually in honor of a dog, Howard and Beth Stern's late bulldog Bianca (pictured).
Well-known celebrities adopt from North Shore Animal League.
Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky Stern have adopted several cats from the shelter. But they're not the only celebrities who have rescued their pets from the Port Washington shelter. Glenn Close, Billy Joel, Chuck Scarborough, Kathryn Erbe and Linda Church are also among North Shore Animal League's celebrity adopters.