Animal Rescue Fund's New Canine Outreach

Dogs from to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons shelter are walked by volunteers twice a week in East Hampton Village as a way to get them used to people and unfamiliar situations. Durell Godfrey

People doing errands or working in the Village of East Hampton may have noticed a tiny parade of dogs being walked through the streets late mornings on Monday and Friday, even being taken into shops. This is a canine outreach army from the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons in Wainscott. The walkers usually have ARF sweatshirts on, and the dogs sport ARF vests.

They are special creatures, having been chosen by Barbara Pezzanite, ARF’s animal behaviorist, in consultation with the organization’s volunteers, as those most likely to benefit from such forays into the society of humans. They are usually dogs that need to be given a chance to acquire a dose of confidence in their dealings with people. They are adoptable, as well. 

Claudia Camozzi, who works at Turpan in the village, found her dog, Paco, during one of these walks, when he was with his canine cronies Annabelle, Rory, and Rio. Paco is a black-and-white beach mutt from Puerto Rico, where ARF has rescued many dogs since the island was hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. On Dec. 17 alone, 124 puppies arrived at ARF from Puerto Rico.

After adopting Paco from that group of dogs, “as he surely misses them,” Ms. Camozzi said, “I try to meet up with the volunteers to continue the tradition.” Village shop owners, especially those at Roberta Roller Rabbit, BookHampton, and Park Place Liquors, “are very receptive to the dogs — give them treats and hugs, and let them run around,” she said. “Paco is our second dog from ARF. The team at ARF is truly exceptional.”

A few months ago, Dr. Pezzanite, in combination with a core group of volunteers, started to identify which dogs might benefit the most from the project, including slightly older, larger dogs as well as those on the less outgoing side, said Scott Howe, the director of ARF for the past year and a half. All volunteers — usually there are three to five at a time walking the dogs — have gone through training in dog walking and will continue walking them through the village in any kind of weather. 

“The volunteers get a lot of credit,” Mr. Howe said.