Organization helps keep pets warm this winter
Last winter, an image of a dog who was left outside and froze to death circulated the Internet. It was not meant to upset, but to warn people of animal cruelty and that drastic measures need to be taken to ensure their safety. Speaking for those who cannot use their own voice is where Guardians of Rescue comes in. The New York based organization’s mission is to protect the well-being of all animals by providing aid to animals in distress, including facilitating foster programs, rehabilitation, assisting other rescue groups, and providing support to families who need assistance.
Robert Misseri is the founder and president of Guardians of Rescue and dedicates his time to urging communities to get involved in helping to keep the pets in their area safe throughout the chilly winter.
“We all feel guilty sleeping in a warm bed at night knowing so many need shelter, but when we know of an animal who is suffering, we get there ASAP,” said Misseri, who recalled finding a dog outside on a chain on Christmas Day that was later given a heated dog house and large pen. “We do a lot of work to help the animals, but we can’t do it alone, we need the community to get involved, too.”
Guardians of Rescue often goes into dangerous areas in order to help dogs that have been left outside without proper shelter. Car lots, junkyards and backs of factories are some of the places where dogs are hidden.
“Most of the time the animals are not fed on weekends when businesses are closed and we’ve seen way too many with health problems,” said Misseri, adding that he and his team bring a custom-made, insulated dog house to the location. “Extreme heat and extreme cold are the most dangerous times for pets. We have seen dogs freeze to death or become overheated.”
In many cases, Misseri said that people keep an animal for the sole purpose of protection and they view the animal as a guard dog and dispensable, not as a living creature. Misseri said that first, he and his team attempt to get the owner to surrender the pet to the rescue group, so they can find a healthier environment for it. If they resist, Guardians of Rescue does the next best thing by providing the animal with better on-site living conditions. They do not put animals in shelters.
“Guardians of Rescue is an organization that takes on all the cases that fall through the cracks that are generally complicated but there’s always an animal suffering,” said Misseri. “Our outreach program looks into making sure that people provide vet care and proper food but a lot of these people don’t care; they’re very selfish.”
The organization raises money off of Facebook, and although they are fiscally responsible, it’s the local donors that truly aid in helping the grassroots group.
“Many people don’t realize the seriousness of pets being left outside during frigid temperatures. Pets left outdoors once it freezes are at risk for frostbite, hypothermia, and even death,” he said. “Shorten your dog’s walk when it’s very cold, especially if your pet is elderly and has a difficult time walking on snow and ice. Also, short-haired pets feel the cold more, so try putting a sweater on them.”
Another helpful way to keep pets warm is to wipe them down after a wet or snowy walk to remove any de-icing chemicals that may be on their fur. While pets should always be indoors during freezing temperatures, especially when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, if you cannot keep your dog inside, consider a heated dog house for outdoors.
Guardians of Rescue’s new television show, The Guardians, which premiered on Jan. 7 on Animal Planet, has been actively seeking out dogs in the areas of New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia that are in need of proper shelter.
“The show follows us around with cameras and lets us do our thing,” said Misseri, adding that many of the stories take place on Long Island. “We hope the show educates people, and even though Long Island has two of the wealthiest counties in the country, it still has its share of animal abuse. We will take any legal measure to go after any owner and relinquish any dog.”
Guardians of Rescue has dozens of volunteers and more than 10 core members. Most of the calls they receive are from neighbors, and the group works hand in hand with many local authorities. In addition to helping pets to have access to better shelter, the group has been providing homeless people in New York City with coats, and providing them with dog jackets and blankets for their pets.
“I’ve been an animal lover my whole life and there’s such a need of our service, but I wish there wasn’t,” said Misseri. “I’m a dog owner, and the laws on leaving pets outside like that are very weak, so we have to do what we can to help make a difference for the animals. I would love to see a law protecting animals from being out in certain temperatures.”
The community can assist Guardians Of Rescue by watching out for animals in need and contacting the organization when they see those in distress. To learn more, volunteer or to make a donation, visit www.guardiansofrescue.org.