Loving Touch is a non-profit, all volunteer rescue group based in Flushing, N.Y. The group consists of three main directors (Paul, Doreen & Zulma) and many wonderful volunteers. Each of us have a true love for animals and we have dedicated our lives to helping those in need. While volunteering for another rescue group we formed a close friendship and worked closely together.
We each had our own special areas of interest and would help many animals on our own in addition to those taken into rescue. The amount of animals that needed care was overwhelming.
Zulma was raised in the Bronx and for many years cared for stray dogs that were abandoned by their owners and those born on the street. When she moved to Queens she didn't forget about the pack of dogs that counted on her for daily feedings. Each day Zulma drove into the Bronx before heading to her full time job just so she could feed the pack of dogs that waited patiently for her. It was very heartbreaking to watch, but due to the types of dogs they were that was the best she could offer. Throughout the years many of those dogs were taken in to be spayed and neutered and given medical attention when needed. Some were eventually adoptable and found homes but the others returned to the street life they were accustomed to.
Paul and I found ourselves helping many needy cats in the Flushing area. Working in Flushing made us aware of the overpopulation problem and need to do rescue in a particular area. Most of our rescues took place on the property of an old home occupied by an elderly woman that never spayed and neutered her cats. The cats were multiplying like crazy and they were everywhere you looked. Throughout the years we were able to trap, spay and neuter many of the cats. The adoptable ones were taken into rescue, many found homes but some of the timid ones remained with us and soon became our pets. We removed many newborn litters of kittens from parking lots, spent countless hours bottle feeding and caring for then and watched them grow into beautiful, affectionate cats that were easier to find homes for. Our rescue work in Flushing could have gone on forever; it was more than we could handle on our own.
As the years went by the three of us depended more and more on each other for help and support. We were being pulled in so many directions and being asked by the public for assistance with animal situations. We found it hard to concentrate on the areas we started to clean up because there was a need for help elsewhere. We soon found ourselves in a situation that had only one way out .... the thought of starting a group on our own.
It all started in the summer of 1999 when Zulma was told about a pack of dogs that lived in an abandoned lot in the South Bronx. A lady that also fed dogs stumbled upon then and asked for help. When Zulma met the pack of dogs for the first time she instantly fell in love with them and wanted to help. The dogs were a family and were very close to each other. The elderly Shepherd was the mother and alongside of her was her mate. Zulma began bringing food to the dogs and slowly tried her best to become their friend. The dogs were very frightened. Although they were happy to accept the food they wanted nothing to do with her. She was persistent and continued to feed and talk to the dogs day after day until they started to trust her. The area the dogs lived in was infested with rats, garbage, broken glass, empty bottles and an old shed that the dogs had dug a hole under and slept in at night. Of all the dogs in the lot the one that was the most pathetic was the elderly female Shepherd who looked beaten up and worn out. She needed medical care desperately but it would take a miracle to get her to come along willingly so Zulma turned to her friends for help. Paul joined her in an attempt to catch the old dog but she was so nervous she ran and hid under the shed for hours and wouldn't come out. Day after day she became a little more trusting until the day she let Zulma put a rope around her neck. She walked slowly with her and very willingly went into the car. Before she made it to the car one of her offspring was so nervous for his mom that he ran after her and started grabbing the rope that was around her neck. He was trying his hardest to free his mother from this stranger that was taking her away. It was a very touching moment to say the least.
After a vet check we were told that the old dog was in her mid-teens, she had hundreds of fleas and ticks infesting her body, she had multiple wounds on her face and hardly any teeth left. To top it off she was pregnant. We weren't told that until after she was spayed. The dog was given the name Duchess and after a few days of vet care and a good rest she was taken back to the lot to join her family again. Her family awaited her return and ran over to greet her. She was so happy to see them but sadly looked back at her new friend with a look of thanks in her eyes. It was very sad to see Duchess back in the dirty lot but because she had severe separation anxiety we felt that she needed to return to her family until we could find a better solution. Every now and then Duchess would come back to Queens with Zulma. This was a good way to get her used to being around new people and see how she would do in a home setting. We soon found out that this was an impossible task; Duchess could not be left alone without becoming destructive. She really needed to be with someone at all times but where would we find a home like that???
With the winter months ahead all we could think about was Duchess and how she would survive her senior years on the street. We began to panic and wondered what we could offer this poor dog and her family. Out of the pack of dogs she was the only one domesticated enough to be taken into rescue. We were determined to help Duchess and we did.
Loving Touch was formed and incorporated in February 2000. With our combined knowledge in the rescue field and several years of hands on rescue we felt this was the only thing to do in order to help the many homeless animals we were encountering on a daily basis.
Our first and most important rescue was that of our Mascot Duchess. She was happy to be rescued but it wasn't easy dealing with her separation anxiety.
You can read all about Duchess's adventures, her new family and how this junkyard dog became a very big part of our lives. Click here
Duchess is no longer with us but her memory lives on forever in our hearts.
*Duchess's family was removed from the lot. Her offspring were taken to a sanctuary by the original lady that fed them. Unfortunately her mate was to traumatized to be rescued and ran off to start a new life in another area. We tried several times to rescue him but it was impossible.
Loving Touch continues to help homeless animals, those abandoned by their owners and those born on the street. We are a hardworking and dedicated team and we are determined to do whatever it takes to help as many animals as possible. Through the help of many wonderful animal lovers who have become members of our group we have been able to help hundreds of dogs and cats. Our wish for the future is to have a small sanctuary setting where we can help even more animals, especially those that are hard to place for one reason or another. We hope you will join our team and support us in this effort to help those that cannot help themselves.