There are few pacific moments inside Heavenly Angels animal shelter. Even the screeching and clanging of the A trains overhead are drowned out by the noise of barking dogs and meowing cats.
Inside the no-kill rescue shelter at 97-14 Liberty Ave. 110 dogs and cats rescued from the streets, abused owners or kill shelters or surrendered by owners who could not take care of them live in cages or in pens meticulously cleaned by a team of volunteers.
The animals, of all breeds and ages, wait for new homes and are cared for by the team of volunteers, who come to play with them, take them for walks and keep their spirits up. Some of the pets are healthy, but many have a long list of problems.
“Much of our budget goes toward veterinary bills,” Heavenly Angels founder Lori Carpino explained, noting that there are only two salaried employees at the shelter. “We make our money only off donations and the small adoption fees.”
And then there’s the rent for the Liberty Avenue building, which Carpino said has now gone up to a level the group can no longer afford, adding to the facility’s concerns.
The shelter, and its animals, will need to vacate the location it has been operating out of for nearly three years by March 31. Finding a new location is hard enough, but paying for it, and paying to move the dozens of animals and setting up a new facility, is an even bigger concern. Carpino said she is looking for new space, but expects the shelter will not find anything workable for a rent much lower than the current location.
Heavenly Angels is seeking donations to keep the shelter operating and cover the cost of the impending move. According to its petfinder.com profile, the shelter is seeking to raise $10,000. In January, the shelter raised $1,500 with the help of students at PS 65.
Carpino said the shelter is vital to help the pet population in the area. Many of the dogs and cats were picked up off the streets as strays or were abandoned. Among the animals housed in the shelter are a female dog that had just given birth and was found, without its puppies, in a lot in East New York, Brooklyn. Another dog, a German shepherd, was found in the middle of Cross Bay Boulevard. After a short time in the shelter, the dog was adopted by a family in Howard Beach.
“Many of our pets find good homes,” Carpino said. “We make sure of that.”
The shelter’s landlord didn’t give a specific reason for the rent hike, but the section of Liberty Avenue between Rockaway Boulevard and 99th Street has seen a spur of development in the last decade that has made the area much more favorable for businesses. It started with the opening of a CVS Pharmacy franchise and a strip mall on former vacant lots in the mid 2000s. A TD Bank opened several years ago next to Heavenly Angels. The bank’s driveway opened up a route between Liberty Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard for pedestrians that some of Heavenly Angels’ neighbors said has brought more foot traffic to the avenue.
Under the rezoning of Ozone Park approved in December, the strip along Liberty Avenue was upzoned to allow for more commercial development.
Carpino, who previously worked at an animal shelter in Astoria, said she wanted to find a new home in the shelter in the South Queens community because it has become a staple there.
Donors can give to the shelter either by PayPal, to firstname.lastname@example.org, by mailing a check to Heavenly Angels Animal Rescue, 97-14 Liberty Ave., Ozone Park, NY 11417, or by visiting the location in person.