From left to right, CSEA SUNY Farmingdale Local Treasurer Valerie Gaffney and SUNY Farmingdale Local President Winnie Fay greet a shelter dog who is being walked by a volunteer.

BABYLON — CSEA SUNY Farmingdale Local members showed love to four-legged friends during the holiday season by donating to the Town of Babylon Animal Shelter.

The idea for the collection came from longtime shelter volunteer and CSEA SUNY Farmingdale Local President Winnie Fay.

“I’ve both adopted animals from this shelter and volunteered here for 20 years.” said Fay. “When I was having a bad day, I’d come here to see the animals. It was an instant endorphin boost for me. Collecting donations for the shelter is my way of giving back to a place that has given me so much.”

From left to right, CSEA SUNY Farmingdale Local Treasurer Valerie Gaffney and SUNY Farmingdale Local President Winnie Fay carry in the many holiday donations local members made to the shelter.

Members began donating animal care item such as blankets, treats and chew toys after Fay introduced the idea during a local membership meeting.

Animal shelter populations have exploded in the last few years. Many people adopted animals during the COVID-19 lockdown. After the lockdown was lifted, some people began dropping animals off at the shelter or abandoned their pets in unsafe locations.

Some of the surrenders have been attributed to people facing economic difficulties due to the pandemic.

“People are getting evicted from their homes because they can’t afford their mortgage or rent, so they also can’t afford a pet,” said Town of Babylon Animal Shelter worker and CSEA member Kristina Miller-Boyle. “Animal shelters nationwide are at full capacity and often have more than one animal in a cage.”

Miller-Boyle and Fay have known each other since Fay began volunteering at the Town of Babylon Animal Shelter, where Miller-Boyle has been working for almost 40 years.

CSEA Town of Babylon Animal Shelter worker Kristina Miller-Boyle looks through the SUNY Farmingdale Local’s donated items.

“The donations that were made today are going to help a lot of animals,” said Miller-Boyle. “We house rescue animals too so we need this helping hand.”

The shelter is open six days a week and usually has a full lobby of people seeking help for animals or wanting to provide aid.

Miller-Boyle and the other CSEA members at the shelter process important paperwork like adoption papers, owner surrender documentation and spay and neuter paperwork.

“Years ago, we used to send people out with their pets and the paperwork they needed to get their animals spayed or neutered,” said Miller-Boyle. “People weren’t doing it, so the animal shelter started doing it here.”

Miller-Boyle advises the public to adopt from a shelter, rather than a pet store or breeder, because shelters do everything for you “from soup to nuts” to prepare you for your animal to come home with you.

“We don’t send anyone out of here without everything they need to take their pet home,” said Miller-Boyle.

Through regular interaction, shelter workers get to know the animals and can tell visitors personality traits, which puts future pet owners in a better position to find the best pet for their home.

More than anything, people who work with animals want them to find a forever home where they will be happy.

“Anytime you adopt a pet, it becomes part of your family,” said Miller-Boyle. “They deserve to be treated well.”

— Wendi Bowie


About Author

Wendi Bowie is an award-winning journalist who has focused the majority of her career on covering Long Island news. Her efforts have earned her the Press Club of Long Island Media Award for Public Affairs and the Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting Folio Award. Wendi was drawn to her current position as Communications Specialist for CSEA’s Long Island Region because it speaks to her strong desire to champion the rights of the common man and woman.

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