Riverhead officials have taken the next step toward helping dogs living at the town's animal shelter on Youngs Avenue to find new homes.
Last week, the Riverhead town board ratified an agreement with Robert W. Johnson for dog adoption video recording -- a move that many believe will help facilitate adoptions.
According to Vince Taldone, who, in recent months, has questioned why the Town was hesitant to allow something that Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said was untrue, he is pleased with the outcome.
"My partner Bob Johnson and I have been working for quite a while to get town approval to provide video recordings of the adoptable dogs at the RIverhead shelter," Taldone, who is also the vice president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Civic Association, said.
But, unlike a not-for-profit such as NYBullyCrew.org, the town, Taldone said, had to create a process for approving the project, even though it was offered at no cost to taxpayers.
Taldone said he, Johnson and and narrator Gina Rizzo, a certified dog trainer and volunteer at the shelter, offered their services free to make the videos and to put them out on YouTube, if authorized by the Riverhead police department, and to direct other sites to the videos, "all in an effort to bring attention to the good dogs who are in great shape and are ready now to go home with an adoptive family."
Efforts were fruitful; last week, the board voted unanimously to approve the agreement that paves the way for the series of video recordings.
Taldone said the first video has been submitted to Hegermiller for comments, edits, and eventual approval. Once Hegermiller approves a final video, Taldone said the first will be used as a template for editing the others; the hope is that the others will be approved expeditiously.
"The police department has a policy of complete prohibition against photographing any dogs at its shelter," Taldone said. "So this is a great leap forward and I hope it reflects a new cooperative spirit between volunteers and the police department. After all, we are really on the same side. The police department wants to move out the dogs as fast as it can for the mental health of the dogs, to make room for others and to keep costs down."
Taldone he and volunteers share those goals. "We are happy to work with the police department to advance adoptions," he said.
During the time while Johnson and Taldone were waiting for Riverhead Town approval to make the videos, they worked with the Nesconset based, not-for-profit New York Bully Crew to record videos for that organization. As a result, he said, the Bully Crew has had additional adoptions and has taken one dog, which was adopted, and will soon take more dogs from the Riverhead shelter that need "TLC and specialized behavior training" before they can be adopted out.
"I think we are starting a new chapter in cooperation between volunteers, not-for-profits and the town police department," Taldone said. "This is just great for the dogs."