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Long Beach animal shelter reopens under new leadership

President of Posh Pets, Linda Vetrano, plays with

President of Posh Pets, Linda Vetrano, plays with a dog during the reopening of the Long Beach Island dog shelter under new management, Posh Pets, a rescue group, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Only short stays are in store for Long Beach's strays because the animal shelter, which celebrated its reopening Saturday with a blues band and festivities, aims to swiftly find foster families.

"We rotate them out of here," said Linda Vetrano, 65, of Manhattan, who in 2001 founded Posh Pets Rescue, the Long Beach shelter's new operator. "A shelter is no place for an animal."

About 80 to 100 Posh Pets cats and dogs have been "adopted out" in the past eight months, she estimated.

Volunteers ran the shelter until April, when Posh Pets was hired, said Police Commissioner Michael Tangney, who is in charge of the shelter.

The previous operator, Rescue Ink, was hired with a $15,000 contract in 2011 to reopen the shelter that was shut in 2007. The contract ended last year. City officials, volunteers, and some of the 80 or so visitors at yesterday's festivities decided to look forward, not back.

"We never shut down . . . that's all due to the volunteers," Tangney said, noting they wrote checks to keep things running when the city could not. Donations still are needed, he said, pointing to the shelter's wish list, which includes everything from treats to detergent.

The reopened shelter, at 770 Park Place, has room for about 25 dogs and twice as many cats. But, Vetrano said, "We don't plan to get that high."

Posh Pets, a Manhattan-based nonprofit, has about 150 cats and dogs being socialized and trained by foster families for successful adoptions, Vetrano said.

"A foster is the best way to get them adopted," volunteer Barbara Masters, 66, of Long Beach, said.

Armed with a $17,750 grant, Long Beach is restarting its "Trap, Neuter, Release" program, Tangney said.

Posh Pets, which is funding more than $100,000 in upgrades, was hired in April with a $95,000 contract.

It finds homes for dogs and cats -- including ones who were abused or are seriously ill -- from Long Beach and New York City's kill shelters.

But they must be from in-state. "They're New York animals," Vetrano said.

Completed shelter improvements include a "cattery," where cats, often perching on upholstered trees, can learn to trust and play with people.

There also are new concrete floors, utilities, air conditioning, exam and quarantine rooms and outside dog runs.

And Long Beach has a grant to build a bulkhead to keep any future floodwaters out, Tangney said.

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