Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
For a day, all focus shifted to a problem that too many people choose to not think about. The incredible rash of stray animals that are too often left behind in search of a warm, comfortable and loving home to lay their head.
There is a reason dogs are used within our military, trained to help someone who was the victim of an unfortunate accident do daily tasks we take for granted and offer grief counseling to those going through a difficult time in their lives. They always seem to make things better. They possess a 'sixth sense' that draws them even closer to those who really need their positive attitude and selfless dedication to please. And make no mistake, our feline friends can be just as comforting, albeit in a more independent way.
Nationally, with numbers varying from state to state, it has really become a staggering issue (statistics provided by ASPCA):
- Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
- Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).
- Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).
- About 649,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 542,000 are dogs and only 100,000 are cats.
- Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.
- Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.
- About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
- It is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
- Many strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
The New York Islanders have always been at the forefront of community service. Whether it be visiting local schools and hospitals to offer support, having a post-practice skate with visually impaired children or serving up thousands of tickets to our nation's military service men and women, among many more events, yesterday's was especially close to the heart of three who made an appearance along with representatives of New York's front office and North Shore Animal League of Long Island.
Thomas Greiss and wife Brittney could be credited with getting the ball rolling on this entire project when they adopted Wolfie from the shelter towards the end of last season, their third dog who helps them warm the home they share each day with their beautiful daughter.
"It's a great cause, you know, bringing them home to your family. It's tough to resist adopting again, but the three keep us busy, especially with the little one around. I actually had a cat growing up, being single is tough to have a dog, but always loved them and wanted to have some of my own. To be able to give back to the community means so much, because they do so much for us. To be able to do these things means a lot to us".
Calvin deHaan actually ended up adopting the puppy that he did the calendar shoot with. "Brittany and I decided it was the right time to adopt Mia and take her into our home, she's our second dog now and the two have been getting along really well, she follows him everywhere. Hopefully people can start following suit. North Shore does a wonderful job finding these animals homes and puppies always make people happy. It's a nice change of pace for us to be able to work on this project."
Nick Leddy did not end up adopting, as he has two at home, both under a year of age, but he spoke of the importance of reaching out and helping the community, something the Islanders organization has always excelled at, as the Russell terrier mix he was holding was sleeping in his arms.
"Giving back to these organizations is huge, it's part of your responsibility as a professional athlete to do everything we can to help out in the community".
The Pucks & Paws calendar goes on sale November 25 and will be available at the official New York Islanders website (https://www.nhl.com/islanders) as well as North Shore Animal League's website (http://www.animalleague.org/). All proceeds will benefit North Shore's mission as the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption center.
Please consider picking some up as Christmas presents for your favorite fans and/or making a donation to this very worthwhile cause.