The Riverhead Animal Shelter
The Riverhead Animal Shelter

The North Fork Animal Welfare League officially launched the Riverhead Shelter Campaign Tuesday to raise the money needed to relocate the Riverhead Animal Shelter to the Henry Pfeifer Community Center at EPCAL.

The League, which runs Southold’s animal shelter, took over the management of the Riverhead shelter in 2013, and the town agreed last summer to move the shelter from its current run-down location next to the capped town landfill on Youngs Avenue to the Henry Pfeifer Community Center on Grumman Boulevard at EPCAL.

“We are delighted to launch this campaign for the animals and residents of the Town of Riverhead.” said Gillian Wood-Pultz, Executive Director of the League. “Everyone at the League, both staff and volunteers, is thrilled to know that when the project is complete, the animals of the Town of Riverhead will have a truly exceptional place to stay while they wait for a family.”

NFAWL is accepting donations online here.

The League’s Capital Campaign Director, Tammy Severino, said people who wish to donate to the Riverhead capital campaign can currently denote that they want the money to go to the Riverhead campaign in the comments section of the donation form.

She said the League plans to have a dedicated donation page for the capital campaign on the website later this week, and will also be accepting donations through its Facebook page.

They will also be sending out direct mail, hosting events and asking for help from the Riverhead business communities and foundations that offer grants to community organization.

“If you have an interest in Riverhead and animals, we’re hoping you’ll be able to support us,” said Ms. Severino.

The League has raised about half of the $1 million it plans to raise to make the new Riverhead Town Shelter a model shelter for the region, with “an energy efficient design that is bright, airy and accommodating for the animals in the League’s care as well as the surrounding community,” according to the League.

“It will be clean, spacious and state-of-the-art, with indoor and outdoor areas for dogs and cats. Areas for animal intake, family bonding, humane education, storage and administration will make the space more functional.”

A bequest from the Troxel family and money raised by Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter has gotten the League on course to begin the renovation.

Ms. Severino said the League is working with architects to redesign the existing building, and will be adding a 2,300-square-foot section of indoor-outdoor pens, known as the Troxel Pavillion, which will house 21 dogs, with shelter staff in a central location where they can see every dog at all times.

“It’ll be a much calmer environment for the dogs,” she said.

Ms. Severino said construction is expected to begin in several months, after all permits are in place.

The current shelter is a decades-old building in severe disrepair, located next to the town’s garbage dump and waste processing plant. The shelter is poorly lit and ventilated, and doesn’t have enough space for the animals in the League’s care, or for staff, volunteers and visitors.

There is little room there to walk the dogs, and when the mulch processing center is operating, the dogs’ outdoor pens and water bowls become filled with mulch debris.

There is also no space to care for cats at the current shelter.

“We have made every possible enhancement we can in the physical space we’re in, but it’s never going to meet the needs of the animals or the community,” said Ms. Severino.


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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