Cats and Dogs in Rockaways Need Help Too

Andy Sabin, left, and Fran Cirillo, the owner of the Amagansett I.G.A., right, sent 110 pounds of cat litter, 100 cases of cat food, and 100 cases of dog food to the Rockaways last Thursday. Carrie Ann Salvi

    “It’s horrible here,” said Linda Shapiro of East Hampton, after arriving in the Rockaways last Thursday with a van filled with pet supplies.
    Learning on the radio about what she called a “desperate need for pet food and litter” in the towns where she grew up, she called Andy Sabin of Springs, a friend and fellow animal-lover, to help. He immediately agreed, and a van was loaded with 1,000 bags of cat litter, 1,000 cans of dog food, and 1,000 cans of cat food.
    Fran Cirillo, an owner of the I.G.A. in Amagansett, offered to split the cost. Grateful that both of her stores, in Amagansett and Bellport, survived and have been able to stay open with generator power, she has helped the less fortunate as much as possible.
    Mr. Sabin, who matched Saturday night’s hurricane relief benefit concert donations of $17,000 after organizers agreed to add animal charities to the list of beneficiaries, said he would continue to supply needed pet food to Jay Rogoff, a veterinarian who went to Far Rockaway High School with Ms. Shapiro. 
    Dr. Rogoff and his wife, Phillis, like most people in the area, lost nearly everything in their Belle Harbor home, including their cars, and have been living at a Holiday Inn at LaGuardia Airport. The vet said he was trying to keep his hospital, the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways, operational despite the loss of $200,000 worth of uninsured equipment. The hospital had been renovated not long before the storm.
    “We are seeing patients without electric and heat,” Dr. Rogoff said last Thursday, and offering both food and medication to the animals.
    “We lost our X-ray machine, our ultrasound machine, our high-speed dental units . . . everything was under five feet of water,” his wife said. “We are trying to get back up and running, and will make [pet] food available to anyone who needs.”
    Asked how she and her husband were holding up, Ms. Rogoff replied, “Each one of us breaks down on different days.”
    Sanitation departments are starting to “get rid of the stuff,” she said of the mountains of rubble piled in the streets. “It’s not in your face that much — that does help.” The couple must replace all the electric wiring, which wound up under five feet of salt water, in their home and hospital.
    This is “only our first effort,” said Ms. Shapiro. Board members of the Southampton Animal Foundation will help finance the next shipment, she said.
    Jonathan McCann, the foundation’s president, called it “one seaside community coming out to support another.” The foundation funds the Southampton Animal Shelter in Hampton Bays, working in partnership with Southampton Town as part of the town’s emergency planning. The shelter took in five dogs and three cats free of charge for people who evacuated during Sandy, said Mr. McCann. All the pets had been returned as of Nov. 14.
    Anyone wishing to donate toward the rebuilding of the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways, which has provided cutting-edge medical care to that community for 35 years, will find the link to do so on a Facebook page called “Help the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways.”