North Shore Animal League breaks ground on expansion

North Shore Animal League breaks ground on expansion
From left: North Shore Animal League President John Stevenson, Spokesperson Beth Stern and Vice President Joanne Yohannan. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Dozens of local residents gathered on Wednesday morning to watch local officials and North Shore Animal League America leadership commemorate the start of work on an expansion to the adoption building intended to aid cats.

“It’s really a step in us coming even more progressive than we’ve been in terms of animal welfare,” said North Shore Animal League America President John Stevenson.

The project will add a second floor to the Animal League’s building, located at 25 Davis Ave in Port Washington. This floor will be used entirely for cats and kittens, allowing them to roam freely. For this reason, the expansion is being called Bianca’s Furry Feline Friends Adoption Center.

Stevenson said the cost of the expansion will be about $16 million, which the League raised through donations. The goal is to have the project finished before the end of 2018, according to the League’s Senior Vice President Joanne Yohannan.

Fundraising was spearheaded by Beth Stern and her husband, radio host Howard Stern.

“I can’t believe this day is here!” she said.

She also thanked several of her friends for donating.

“Billy Joel I have to thank,” Stern said. “He’s such an animal lover that he said, ‘You know what, my birthday is coming up, why don’t I donate my entire show at Madison Square Garden to Bianca’s Furry Friends,’ so I thank Billy Joel for that. Rachael Ray… has donated millions to us, so I thank her from the bottom of my heart.”

She said her husband wished he could be in attendance, but said he would be at North Shore Animal League when the ribbon will be cut in a little over a year.

Stevenson and Yohannan also thanked philanthropist Sandra Atlas Bass, who also contributed to the fundraising of the structure.

Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink was also in attendance and gave some brief remarks before the crowd.

“What could possibly be bad about economic development for our town, bringing in jobs and bringing great facilities into our town, and bringing puppies and kitties along with it,” he said. “It’s the perfect marriage in my opinion.”

After each person had made a few remarks on the podium, they all put on hard hats and grabbed shovels for a photo-op of groundbreaking in the parking lot. In addition to Animal League America leadership and Wink, there were several members of the construction team that took part in the groundbreaking.

“The only thing better than coming here to this groundbreaking will be coming to the ribbon cutting when it’s all completed,” Wink said.

While there were not any furry felines at the groundbreaking for a cat adoption center, there were several puppies and dogs. While the new space will be for the cats, Beth Stern said project will also help dogs.

“The dogs are going to benefit too because all that space upstairs is going to free up the entire downstairs for more puppy mill rescues, adult dog rescues, everybody wins.”

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