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Animal Shelter Damaged by Hurricane Sandy Reopens for Adoptions

By  Jess Wisloski Paul Lomax and Mary Johnson | November 22, 2012 12:05pm 

MURRAY HILL — A 109-year-old animal shelter and pet hospital that suffered serious damage and flooding during Hurricane Sandy has reopened and hosted its first post-storm pet adoptions.

Bideawee, on East 38th Street between First Avenue and the FDR Drive, was closed and dozens of cats and dogs were evacuated when the storm hit at the end of October, but the shelter began welcoming the creatures back last weekend.

Last Sunday, Bideawee offered adoptions for some of the 70 cats living in the facility, which the organization has occupied for a century, said Amy Hraniotis, Bideawee's associate director for partnerships.

Adoptions for the shelter's 25 dogs resumed on Tuesday, Hraniotis added.

Bideawee's road to recovery post-Sandy has been rough.

The approximately 100 pets housed in the facility were evacuated in the days leading up to and immediately following the storm, after the shelter's basement took on 5 feet of water and its oil-powered generator ran out of fuel, said Nancy Taylor, Bideawee's CEO.

The pets found temporary homes in Bideawee's two other shelters in Wantagh and Westhampton on Long Island, though the Wantagh facility lost power and was forced to run on a generator for two weeks.

And in the Murray Hill shelter, stores of food were destroyed, as were laundry facilities and loads of supplies, Bideawee said.

But last Sunday, about a dozen families came to check out the cats at Bideawee, and several walked away with new companions.

One cat, a 4-year-old Turkish Angora named Whitney that had been at Bideawee for about eight months, was carried off by new adoptive parents Gail and James Shulman, from the Upper East Side.

"We've always had cats at home, and Whitney is a sweetheart," Gail Shulman said. "She's going to get a lot of love and attention. We don't have any children, so cats are a big part of our lives."

The couple had spotted their new pet on the Bideawee website, playing in the facility's cat room on a video and getting fawned over by a handler.

Two kittens, a pair of 3-month-olds named Mick and Jagger, also found homes with Esther Rodriguez, 25, a school teacher, and her fiancé, Luis Fragosa, 27, a computer programmer.

"They're not for me — they're for him," Rodriguez said. "He loves cats."

Hraniotis said Bideawee, which operates solely on private donations, is now well stocked with food, toys, treats and bedding, thanks to gifts from generous supporters. But the facility is still in need of cash to help shoulder the cost of the damage sustained during the storm. Those interested in donating can visit the Bideawee website.