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‘Year of the Dog’ fundraiser to support Hamden regional animal shelter fund

HAMDEN — Next weekbegins the Chinese New Year’s “Year of the Dog” and to usher it in a local nonprofit will hold a special fundraiser for the town’s Animal shelter gift fund.

Gimme Shelter, an organization aimed at ending animal cruelty, has paired up with JaSa Asian Cuisine on Dixwell Avenue for the Feb. 15 fundraiser to establish a Hamden or regional Animal Shelter. JaSa will donate 20 percent of pre-tax bills to Hamden’s animal shelter gift fund on dine-in and take-out orders when patrons present the event flyer with their bill. Delivery orders are not included. Patrons can either download and print the flyer or access it on their phones.

One hundred percent of the donations will go to the gift fund, which was recently established to ensure any funds donated to support establishing a shelter would be used for that purpose.

“Abused and neglected animals have no voice of their own,” Gimme Shelter founder Leonard Young said, so he’s trying to bring the animal shelter issue out of obscurity. Gimme Shelter is a division of Abandoned Animals, a rescue organization for cats and kittens, providing them with health screening, medical care, up-to-date vaccinations, spay and neutering and placement in a forever home.

“People have to eat and we’re hoping they choose JaSa and just by choosing that restaurant, they’re making a donation,” Young said. Last year, Gimme Shelter raised about $6,500 with all its fundraisers, he said.

The spark to establish Gimme Shelter happened when Young learned of an incident across the street from his house where a man had abandoned 16 cats in his third-floor apartment on Auger Street a year and a half ago. The tenant was charged with 19 counts of animal cruelty and is still awaiting disposition/referred to adult probation, according to Connecticut’s judicial website.

“If you give the people a platform, they respond,” Young said of his desire to found the organization with several other people he knew from a local dog park.

When an article was published about four legislators requesting funds for a regional animal shelter with North Haven last January, Young said the organization realized they should focus their efforts on funding the creation of an animal shelter for the town. It started with a simple happy-hour fundraiser, with 80 people showing up to support, and “It snowballed from there,” he said “Every fundraiser we do, more people get involved.”

Currently, the town borrows space in the North Haven Animal Shelter, but it can’t always support the number of animals that Hamden’s animal control officers manage. But the town is talking with a nearby town about potentially establishing a regional shelter.

“There’s nothing more that draws people out than seeing an animal or child in pain because they expect nothing of you,” Vice President of Gimme Shelter Jody Langner said. While Langner doesn’t live in town, through her involvement with Gimme Shelter she said Hamden residents really want a shelter to be established, especially since there aren’t any municipal no-kill shelters in the area.

From therapy to law enforcement, animals serve in countless areas of people’s lives, which makes people passionate about animal welfare, Young said. “It’s companionship, therapeutic, a family member and a teacher for kids on how to treat people.”

The creation of an animal shelter for the town would “stop animal abuse from falling through the cracks,” Young said. “And if it saves one animal’s life, it’s a success. We are judged as a community by how it treats its animal population .”

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