By Alberto Gilman
Newly formed Tabby’s Tails seeks the support of the community to help bring an animal shelter to the City of Newburgh. With no active location in the city to send homeless and abandoned animals who are at risk, Tabby’s Tails seeks to bring a mobile kennel unit that can house 10 to 20 animals at a time. The mission of Tabby’s Tails is “To build a safe and temporary environment for animals in the process of finding them a forever home and developing community programs and partnerships to educate and strengthen the human-animal bond.”
The name of the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization was derived from founder and president Jeannette Drake’s daughter Tabitha Cruz, who loved all animals. Drake shared that her daughter knew from the age of six that she was going to be a veterinarian and that was always her passion. A graduate from the Newburgh school district, Cruz attended Vet Tech Institute in Pittsburgh in pursuit of her dream to work with animals. A special story that Drake shared was that Cruz had been working with a mastiff mix named Brodie who was in a shelter, and she would read books to him to assist with the training. She would later get a message from the shelter that Brodie became her dog.
On October 30, 2016, Cruz and friend Omani Free were shot and killed while attending a Halloween party at 119 Broadway in the city. Cruz was 20 at the time and Free was 18. In the wake of the tragedy, the families have hosted marches in their memory and other community events to promote peace and awareness. Now, Drake hopes to make her daughter’s dream a reality after finding out that she had been conducting animal care resource research.
While doing online research, Drake shared that she has been to visit physical kennels to learn more about their operations but was not pleased about their conditions. “They [kennels] almost look like you want to take them from there to give them a good home,” said Drake.
The mobile kennels are a more cost effective solution to the more traditional brick and mortar animal shelters, but Tabby’s Tails is also open to potential brick and mortar locations that can be renovated for their own usage. A kennel unit was researched to be $70,000 and over, and so any donations from the community are greatly appreciated. These kennel units would come equipped with heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical infrastructure and indoor/outdoor living space for the animals.
Tabby’s Tails has conducted outreach events and other fundraising opportunities to help spread the word about their project. Tabby’s Tails’ next fundraiser will take place on Friday, May 19 at 6:05 p.m. through a partnership with the Hudson Valley Renegades where supporters can purchase a $28 package that includes a general admission ticket, meal voucher and a $10 donation back to Tabby’s Tails.
The timeline to have these kennels come into the city would be over the course of the next 18 months. As long as the shelter is in the city, there are more and more discussions for possibilities to further expand the organization. For Drake, with the hope of the mobile kennel unit, she wants new potential animal owners to be comfortable with the animals in a safe and comfortable environment, a place where you can ask questions about care and animal caretakers would follow up with you in terms of getting required vaccinations or needing additional training. “I wanted it to be set up as this is a good place and we’re starting you off with your animal in a good place,” said Drake.
Max Cuacuas, a board member of Tabby’s Tails, shared that with the research done on the kennels, the potential to grow the capacity is possible with the size of the lot. With previous experience working with exotic animals, he shared that the board has discussed taking in various animals. The emphasis with this particular community shelter is that it is a no kill shelter.
“I think that people should care. First and foremost, because animals are a part of our community,” said Cuacuas. “It’s a service to the animals that you’re going to be helping so we appreciate anybody who’s willing to contribute in any way shape or form, whether it’s volunteering, financial, whatever resources they can bring. I think that I’m just excited to be a part of a project and something that’s going to be established and help animals for many, many years to come in the city.”
Community members can contact the organization at their Facebook and Instagram at Tabby’s Tails, website at Tabbystails.org and email address at Tabbystailsinc@gmail.com. All donations are tax deductible, and checks can made payable to Tabby’s Tails at 610 Broadway #329 Newburgh, NY 12550. A PayPal account, @tabbystails, is also available to help in these efforts.