‘I was enjoying a very fulfilling career and family life, but I felt there was something missing.’
“My entire family were big animal lovers, and my mom always set an amazing example. She was a volunteer for so many not-for-profits, and we gave back any chance we could. We were always rescuing birds that fell out of nests and feeding stray kittens outside. As a child, I was highly allergic to almost everything, and pets were on the top of the list. I was one of four kids and went through years of allergy injections and medications.
“My siblings weren’t thrilled that I was unable to have a dog or a cat. When I was 14 years old, my allergist gave my parents the green light. Literally the next day, we went to a shelter and adopted Brandy, a mixed-breed dog. As an adult, I was enjoying a very fulfilling career and family life, but I felt there was something missing. I was involved in nonprofit boards and events in the lives of the voiceless — children, animals and seniors.
If there was anything good about this pandemic, it was many animals got homes.
“I knew I was too sensitive to do hands-on work and cried at the thought of an animal in distress, but I knew there was a way to make a difference. I was good at raising money, so I put together a team, and Pet Peeves was born in 2001. We’ve raised just under $2 million and distributed to so many groups – Last Hope animal shelter, Kent Animal Shelter, North Shore Horse Rescue, wildlife organizations, and the list goes on.
“I’d like our legacy to be that young people take the Pet Peeves concept of raising funds and distributing to needy populations, with compassion and kindness being the driving force. Throughout this journey, the spay and neuter of pets has become so incredibly important. It’s all about educating the public. People don’t understand what buying a pet truly stems from, and that is abuse and neglect. Riverhead Town recently banned the sale of puppy mill puppies, cats and rabbits, which is great.
“During the pandemic, one of the only things that we could do was to encourage people to adopt or foster animals. That had a lot to do with the success of the pandemic clearing the shelters. The number of people who remained working at home and kept pets was key. Had everyone gone right back to work, we would have had a higher rate of return. If there was anything good about this pandemic, it was many animals got homes.”