For 30 years, the Last Hope Animal Rescue has provided a safe haven for animals who, for a variety of reasons, have no place else to go. This past weekend the organization celebrated this landmark anniversary with the grand opening of their new, larger shelter, located at 3300 Beltagh Avenue, in Wantagh.
On Saturday, the staff of welcomed people of the community to see their new facility and meet all the animals that they have available for adoption. The shelter, formerly the Wantagh , underwent some renovations before opening its doors as the new home of Last Hope.
One of the enhancements at the Wantagh facility from when it was Bideawee is a new free-roam room where cats have total access to two whole rooms. The catwalk has also been improved allowing for cats to wander around, and even up over visitors heads, rather than being penned up in small cages.
Volunteers at the shelter are also excited that the space is allowing them to house both cats and dogs under the same roof, a luxury they have not previously had. “The dog and cat volunteers didn’t even know each other before,” said Linda Stuurman, President of Last Hope. “Now they’re working together and seeing what the other volunteers have been doing.”
Previously the organization housed their dogs in a Lindenhurst location and the cats in a storefront located at 582 W. Jehrico Turnpike in Huntington. Stuurman said they have chosen to keep their Huntington location open but have closed the organization’s Lindenhurst facility. She explained that financially, Last Hope could not afford to keep so many locations functioning at once.
Stuurman added that they have gotten a lot of help through diligent fundraising efforts on their part, and have received additional help through grants. “The next step to explore would be corporate sponsorships, but it’s hard to find a company willing with the economy as it is,” she said.
Financial worries were not present in the mood during the weekend though, and instead visitors and volunteers enjoyed time with the animals in their new home, some even sharing their inspirational stories.
Jim Pryor, Last Hope’s Treasurer, said at Saturday’s grand opening celebration that he is more than just a volunteer as he and his wife are also the proud owners of a the organization’s rescue dog named Hope. Pryor said that Hope had been hit by a car on the Bethpage Parkway when she was about 8-9 months old and was saved from being put down by Last Hope. When Pryor was asked to walk Hope one day at the shelter he obliged and said, “That was it, I knew we needed to take her home.”
Overall, the weekend was considered to be a big success, with Stuurman summing up the atmosphere perfectly saying, “we wanted to make it like a celebration weekend.”