Like so many charities in today’s world, Southampton Animal Shelter recently fell on hard times. Originally funded by the town of Southampton, the money dried up in January 2010, and the place was scheduled to be shuttered. All 250 of the animals would be forced to go elsewhere. But a small group of determined people decided to step up for the shelter; they developed a board and today are proud to say the adoption rate at the Southampton Animal Shelter is above 97 percent.

Stories like this really touch my heart. On my television show, New York Live on NBC 4 New York, we have a segment every Thursday featuring dogs (and a few cats) that are up for adoption. Assisted by dedicated segment producer Kathryn Sheldon, who works diligently to make sure each animal is spotlighted, I’m proud to say that our show has adopted out more than 400 dogs. It is all part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a cooperative effort between dozens of shelters in the metro area and New York City. The shelters tell us the phones ring off the hook when we feature them. Sometimes we will have adorable puppies that are not difficult to place in a new home; many times, we feature dogs rescued from puppy mills or kill shelters. These dogs can have health issues—one eye, three legs, a heart murmur—occasionally they are anxious, intuitively knowing that for those few seconds they are featured on the powerful medium of television, it could mean the difference between a whole new life and one spent in a shelter.

New York Live is on the same floor at 30 Rockefeller Plaza as NBC Nightly News and MSNBC—serious news outlets—yet when those puppies come to the studio, tough wizened news people line up to have a look. Some of them have become happy new pet owners. Celebrities who come on the show melt at the sight of the animals, and it’s a kick to watch them take photos—then call home to see if they can adopt.

At the very least it’s a bonding experience, which led my family to take in Buddy, a Yorkie adopted at 11 weeks. Not a fancy name, but he is just that—our buddy. The same can be said for my friend and colleague of nearly three decades, Chuck Scarborough, and his wife, Ellen, who will be fêted by the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation at their Unconditional Love gala this week. Chuck and Ellen rescued their dog Oliver, which in turn saved the family’s cat, Stanley, from a coyote. The Scarboroughs just added another rescue dog, Emma, to their household. Rescuing animals is important to the two of them, which is why they’ve become so involved with the Southampton Animal Shelter. I hope you’ll follow suit and join us on July 21, as we gather to raise money for the shelter so many more animals like Buddy, Oliver, Emma, and Stanley can find loving, welcoming homes.

What: Southampton Animal Shelter’s Unconditional Love Benefit
When and Where: Saturday, July 21 at a private residence in Southampton
Who: Honorees Ellen and Chuck Scarborough, Jean Shafiroff, Karen LeFrak
Contact: southamptonanimalshelter.com

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