Dolores Stormo of Oceanside started her career in the music industry, working at both Colombia Records and EMI Records. She loved working in the entertainment business until a part-time volunteer stint at Bide-A-Wee Animal Shelter made her realize her true passion – helping abandoned animals.
“I made a career change,” said Stormo, who began working as the volunteer coordinator for the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in 2011, after Bide-A-Wee Animal Shelter in Wantagh closed.
Stormo was able to combine her passions and celebrate her love for music and animals on Saturday at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter’s inaugural Free Love Woofstock and Newpurrt Festival.
Organized to promote the shelter’s Summer of Love Pet Adoption program, which waives all adoption fees between June and September, Woofstock fell on the anniversary of the final day of 1969’s Woodstock, as well as National Adopt a Black Cat Day.
“Our busiest time for animals coming into the shelter sadly is summer,” said Assistant Shelter Director Stacie DaBolt, of East Meadow. “It’s also kitten season, when litters are born almost every day.”
Visitors were treated to live music, giveaways and entertainment. More than 30 volunteers were present, offering basic dog training, conducting agility demonstrations, answering questions and introducing guests to the shelter’s furry residents. There are approximately 150 dogs and 80 cats currently living in the shelter.
Many of the pitbull mixes -- a common type of dog found at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter -- took part in the Woofstock obedience and agility demonstrations. Volunteer Beth Marzo, of Bethpage, introduced Mellow, a 3-year-old pitbull mix, to several visitors.
“He’s really a sweetheart,” Marzo said of Mellow. “I think a lot more families are adopting pit mixes now because they realize that they are great family dogs.”
Marzo and her fellow volunteer dog walkers and cat socializers share a passion for improving the quality of life of the shelter animals and encouraging others to adopt or foster pets in their homes.
Kandace Westhoff, of Bethpage, is currently fostering her third dog from the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, a rescue named Ms. Maude.
“I have dogs of my own that I’ve rescued from shelters, and I’d love to adopt more, but I can’t bring them all home,” Westhoff said. “Fostering gives me the opportunity to take a dog out of the shelter, love it and become an advocate for it.”