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A few weeks ago, I posted a short notice about a local animal hoarder named Marie Castaldo , who was finally arrested on a variety of charges including animal cruelty. She awaits trial in Riker’s Island and faces seven years in prison. Her trial begins next week.
The gist of the story is: This woman, a notorious con artist (and a good one at that), would visit local and New York City shelters and present herself as a kind and loving founder of a charming little rescue group located in Hudson Valley. The shelters’ adoption coordinators, taken with this woman’s charm, would relinquish a dog or two, and the hoarder would be on her way—off to do unspeakable things to these poor dogs.
I don’t need to go on and on to you Bark readers about how absolutely horrible this is. Or how this woman deserves to go to jail. Or how those poor dogs need tender loving care NOW. I mean, there’s so much to say on the subject I don’t know where to begin.
So how about this: I think about those sweet shelter volunteers, whose primary goal in life is to make sure that needy dogs find loving homes. I think of how their kindness, trust and goodness has been betrayed. I think how the dogs have been betrayed. I think how God/dess and Mother Earth herself has been betrayed, because we humans were entrusted to be stewards of the animals, and what kind of stewardship are people like Marie Castaldo exhibiting?
So what can we do beyond crying, bemoaning, complaining and/or hating humans like this?
We can rescue dogs, of course, which is what most of us here at Bark have already done. If we can’t take in any more dogs at this particular moment, we can give: Give our time, our dollars, or even our prayers to all those who suffer or need food or love or are in pain. I expect even this hoarder-woman is in pain at some level too—how else could she behave as she does?
The only good thing to come of horrifying events like this is a reminder that for every animal abuser out there, there is at least one, and probably many, animal lovers/rescuers. This is one of those laws of the universe. So let’s remember this every time we hear some bad news. It reminds us that we have the power to help—in large and small ways. And therefore help make amends for all the wrong that has been done. To dogs. To earth. To all.
At the very least, we can send emails to our local shelters—thanking them for all the hard work they do. We can send a tiny packet of treats.
On Monday, August 23, I am giving a reading and book-signing of my memoir Rex and the City: A Memoir of a Woman, a Man and a Dysfunctional Dog to benefit the 40 dogs of the Ulster County SPCA. If any of you live in the Hudson Valley, I encourage you to attend. We’re trying to arrange to have some of the dogs attend the event and find a new home. Unfortunately, few are well enough to walk yet.
Details: Inquiring Minds Book Store, Partition at Main Street, Saugerties N.Y., Monday August 23 at 7 p.m. Early birds get a free copy of Bark magazine!
If you can’t make the reading, please visit ucspca.org  to donate or purchase a copy of Rex and the City through my website at www.rexandthecity.net . All proceeds from book sales now through Sept. 15 will be donated to this shelter. This memoir is about rescuing and rehabilitating an abused shelter dog, and it has a very happy ending.