When she was just 2 years old, pit bull Jessie was scarred from ear to ear with her dog collar embedded in her neck. She was a bait dog for fighting and used for breeding.
As a dog trainer working in animal shelters, Sayville resident Kathleen Gallina helped Jessie regain her life.
Gallina didn’t want any other dog to experience the same cruelty Jessie did and that is why she created Jessie’s Hope for Dogs, a nonprofit based in Islip.
And that is also why Gallina was thrilled about Jessie’s Hope for Dogs hosting the 1960s-themed Break the Chain “Pooch Power” Pet Extravaganza at Pet Care Depot in Medford on Saturday.
Break the Chain is a community outreach program operated by Jessie’s Hope for Dogs. The program’s volunteers visit low-income and high-crime areas with the goal of getting dogs that have lived on chains for their entire lives to become part of a loving family.
“Break the Chain means breaking the cycle of not being educated about taking proper care of an animal, and a dog should not live on a chain,” Gallina said.
Saturday’s event featured dog training advice, face painting, giveaways, raffles, homemade crafts and a pet photo booth. It raised $800, which will go toward the program, providing food and medical care for dogs.
Since Jessie’s Hope for Dogs was started in 2008, Gallina has dealt with hundreds of animals living in abusive environments, including 10-month-old pit bull Big Boy who was underweight and attached to a rusted chain.
“He had no bowl of water or dog food provided for him. You could see the parasite worms in his feces,” Gallina said. “He was a broken soul but we put him back together.”
With a staff of 20 volunteers, Jessie’s Hope for Dogs serves the Bellport, Shirley, Mastic and Mastic Beach areas. It has helped more than 200 dogs in the past year.
“We mostly deal with pit bulls but if another type of dog needs us, we are there to help,” Gallina said.
David Rodriguez of Medford came to the pet extravaganza with his 12-year-old Chihuahua Mugsy.
“I like the message that Jessie’s Hope is telling dog owners, it’s not OK to leave your dog chained to a fence,” he said.
Nancy Buckler, of Islip, agreed.
“This program is fantastic,“ Buckler said. “Dogs should never be neglected because they are very loving and should be in a loving home.”