The Dog Eat Dog World of Long Island Animal Rescue

{Long Island, New York}

When Whitney B. Knowlton, the Founder and Executive Director of Long Island’s Last Chance Animal Rescue, was drawn into the world of animal rescue her first hand experiences were far from puppy adoptions and sunny Petco fundraisers. Knowlton often watched as inmates working in shelters ensured a dog’s mortality with a shovel, after the gas chamber didn’t quite do its job. She fought to get a dying dog off a shelter floor harden to sheet of ice. All while knowing that even if she were to rescue these dogs their chances of survival were next to impossible. Last Chance Animal Rescue is a non-profit organization dedicated to transporting animals from kill shelters, mostly in southern states, to foster homes on Long Island, to eventually be adopted into their forever home. Knowlton is a powerful Long Island figure. She actively fights to make Long Island a part of the solution to the nation’s unjust animal welfare epidemic. She is driven to find and understand the source of the problem, fight for shelter reform, and with the help of our community fix the conflict at the root.
Last Chance raises awareness that national animal rescue is entirely possible. Knowlton said, “People are ignorant when it comes to this issue, they believe the rhetoric that they have always been fed.” The rhetoric being that there are too many animals and death is the obvious solution. “Some kids sit in foster homes their whole lives while others are adopted right away, we don’t kill those kids who haven’t found their family yet. Why should we kill these animals? There are plenty of homes for these animals. Statistics and studies done by organizations like Maddie’s Fund prove this.” Knowlton proclaimed.
Part of the issue is that shelters are under the control of the sheriff’s department and treated with complete disregard; Knowlton describes it as, “a city dump for animals.” There is no care or compassion for the well-being or any genuine desire for a positive future for these animals.
South Hampton’s Last Chance Animal Rescue witnessed successful shelter reform happen with just simple changes at a low cost. One example comes out of a shelter in rural Chesterfield, NC. This shelter was a typical, poorly run public shelter that hired a new Director and Animal Control Officer who was determined to run their shelter more effectively. The quality of life for the animals at the shelter improved just by ensuring that cages were cleaned properly and the animals were provided with the proper care that they deserve. “They began to work smarter, using de-wormers, and flea control. They used a computer as a resource to connect with rescues facilities such as, Last Chance and no-kill shelters, but most importantly to raise awareness in the committee that these animals were very adoptable.” Knowlton noted. “These small changes helped the shelter go from killing 95 % of their intake to less than 5% last year.”
Knowlton acknowledges that change is possible with creativity. “Complacency kills”, she enforced. It is important to be creative and remember that people will step up to the plate and embrace animal rescue and shelter reform. She has learned to never take no for an answer, which is the kind of thick skinned approach needed to be successful in the battle for national shelter reform. It can happen and with the help of Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island will contribute to this national transformation.

For more information on Last Chance Animal Rescue or ways to get involved please visit


One comment

  • I have nothing but respect for people who give their time and money to run no-kill animal rescues, who spend their time pulling death row cats and dogs from city shelters. I wish I had more money so I could donate to this kind of work.

    As far as city shelters go, they tend to vary widely. I’ve seen some very good ones. There are also city shelters like the kind you describe above.

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