A group of high school students from throughout the Baldwin area have formed a club to support local nonprofit dog rescue centers and advocate for adoptions and rescues of dogs.
Oceanside High School freshmen Kate Wiedmann, of Baldwin, Riley Mahoney and Ariella Rukhlin, of Ocean-side, and Julia Valukis, of Rockville Centre, launched the club last summer.
It focuses on “raising awareness about the benefits of animal rescue, adoption and fostering,” Wiedmann said, “and we just kind of want to bring awareness to fostering dogs and rescuing them from rescues, and not shelters.”
The Oceanside Dog Rescue Club partners with rescue centers rather than shelters because rescues tend to keep animals in better condition.
Shelters are often government-funded facilities with paid workers, while rescue centers are more often run by volunteers and funded by money raised by people in the local community.
“There is a huge difference if you look at it closely,” Mahoney said.
Shelters keep their dogs in kennels, Mahoney said, which separates and isolates them, whereas rescue center volunteers take dogs outside and take them for walks.
“In shelters, dogs can be euthanized from being there for only 24 hours,” Wiedmann noted, “and at rescues, they’ll keep those dogs until they get adopted. And they’ll give those dogs treatments for any illnesses they have and they’ll just really help the dog to give them the best home.”
“I have two rescues from Texas,” Mahoney said. “One of mine was actually in a kill shelter — we got her from Ruff House, who rescued her from a kill shelter.”
Ruff House Rescue in Ocean-side is one rescue center that the group works with, as well as Posh Pets Rescue in Long Beach.
The girls have held two donation drives to date. For the first, on Dec. 13, they collected more than $2,500 worth of cleaning supplies, which were donated to Posh Pets. For the second, they collected 60 bags of linens and blankets during the third week in January, which were donated to five local rescue centers, including Paw it Forward Pet Pantry in Valley Stream and No Dogs Left Behind in New York City.
Once it’s safe to do so, the girls plan to bring the club to their school and host at least one fundraiser per month. They also plan to host additional donation drives.
“We’re definitely going to be more interactive when we actually go to the high school next year,” Rukhlin said. “We’re going to do stuff that [other students] can be a part of, not just like fundraisers.”
Wiedmann said she, Mahoney and Valukis had the idea to start the club and combined efforts with Rukhlin, who had the same idea in mind.
“I love animals and I have a dog too,” Rukhlin said, “so I’ve always loved helping out, so that’s why I wanted to do it.”
“Dogs have been in my life since I was born,” Wiedmann said. “My grandma volunteers at Posh Pets, and she kind of encouraged me to start this with some my friends, because she’s really passionate about it, and I really enjoy helping these animals.”
Hearing about what takes place at some shelters was another driving factor, Wiedmann said.
“I think for all of us, just looking at some of the statistics of dogs that get killed in shelters and just seeing how much of a difference we’ve already made in the past three months is just major,” she said, “and is really pushing us to keep doing what we’re doing.”
For more information, follow the club on Instagram at instagram.com/oceansidedrc.