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Westchester Humane Society Revitalized

HARRISON, N.Y. – The Westchester Humane Society in Harrison was once in disrepair due to management group problems, but the animal shelter has been revitalized by the efforts of a new board that took over in June.

“We often talk about it like it’s a miracle,” said board President Eric Lobel, who has two dogs of his own. “It’s incredibly gratifying because honestly there were plenty of days where we thought we’d fail, when we thought we’d never be able to make a change, and we were just always going to be stuck where we were.”

In January, several board members and others volunteered at the shelter because it had fallen on hard times and could no longer afford to pay people. Lobel said the shelterwas in a horrible state. After many failed attempts at forcing out the owners, the volunteers filed a lawsuit and ultimately reached a settlement that forced the ownership group to resign.

Since that time, according to Lobel, the shelter at 7 Harrison Ave. has undergone many changes, including the installation of “really nice dog beds,” structural repairs, and two outdoor playpens made possible by donations from New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella and his family. Lobel said he was grateful to the Tortorella family, who have been “just remarkable” in helping to revitalize the shelter.

“The amount of time that they’ve spent – coming to the shelter walking dogs, cleaning, they have spent so many hours I can’t tell you. They really give their time,” said Lobel.

He said additions to the staff include a new “wonderful manager” plus a couple of part-time workers and with more funding, he hopes to add “even more people to the staff.”

While Lobel lives in Brooklyn, he is temporarily staying with his sister in Greenwich, to continue helping the shelter that houses 40 cats and 30 dogs . It is the shelter’s mission to find homes for the animals, but until then, Lobel said wants to make sure they are living in a comfortable environment.

While Lobel said they have a long way to go, he believes the future is bright for the formerly maligned shelter, which he added could always use donations.

“We plan to do much, much more," said Lobel. "We really want to bring out the local community. We really want and need to grow our volunteer corps. We have this great core team on our board. We have some incredible volunteers, people like John, and there are others. I don’t see how we can fail.”

The shelter is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 914-835-3332 or send an email .

The Rangers and the John and Christine Tortorella Family Foundation are co-hosting a dog walk Sept. 9 on the Upper West Side with proceeds going to the Westchester Humane Society and other similar organizations.

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