For more than a century Bideawee has been caring for homeless animals and nurturing life-
long relationships between humans and their pets. Bideawee, which is the Scottish term for “stay a while,” welcomes abused, neglected, and abandoned companion animals with all the compassion, love, and warmth evoked by the Scottish phrase that inspired its name. Founded in 1903 by Flora D’Auby Kibbe, Bideawee was inspired by the work of a humane group caring for homeless animals in Paris. Kibbe took what she learned by observing the Parisian group and used it as a blueprint to form Bideawee from her Manhattan apartment, eventually expanding to Wantagh, New York, and then to Westhampton. Kibbe was a visionary and a pioneer in the animal rescue movement, which is why her work continues to have a positive impact so many years later. As Bideawee President and CEO Leslie Granger reflected, “It’s an honor to be in charge of an organization that has lasted through two pandemics, the Great Depression, and World Wars I and II—and through all these major monumental points in our history, a woman who didn’t have the right to vote kept alive a fairly avant-garde idea and organization that was a no-kill animal shelter. It’s powerful to me and something that I take with me every day.”
Shortly after Leslie Granger took over the organization in 2017, three main pillars were defined to guide Bideawee’s future: Prevention, Problem Solving, and the Human-Animal Bond. These pillars have always been part of Bideawee’s mission, but by focusing the day-to-day work of the organization through the lens of each pillar, Bideawee avoids the trap of taking on things that it shouldn’t. Thus, not only has it been able to adapt to a near-constantly changing world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, subsequent supply-chain shortages, veterinary care backlogs, and huge animal-adoption numbers, it has actually grown while most animal-rescue organizations are barely hanging on or are closing entirely.
When you visit Bideawee’s website you quickly notice that animal adoption is only one way that Bideawee serves the greater New York community. Bideawee offers a variety of services, including training and veterinary care, that help prevent companion animals from entering the shelter/rescue system in the first place.
In 2021, Bideawee rolled out an online “Dog School” in a new partnership with Dogs Trust, a UK organization. Dog School offers a low-cost dog-training program for Bideawee adopters and the general public. As Granger noted, “I took advantage of it myself. I used it with my COVID puppy, and it’s incredible.” In January 2022, Bideawee hopes to roll out an in-person version of Dog School. Granger explained, “We want to do everything we can to stave off adolescent returns because people didn’t find the training they needed.” Dog School courses are done in small groups with a trained instructor to ensure the best experience for everyone. It is fun and a great way to bond with your dog. The people at Bideawee know that when a dog is given the fundamental skills they need to be a member of a family they are less likely to be returned to the shelter or rescue organization. Dog School provides expert advice and practical training to help the human and the dog understand each other better.
Bideawee’s founder, Flora Kibbe, recognized early on how important proper veterinary care is to ensuring that animals can live long, happy lives as well-adjusted family pets. Therefore, Bideawee runs a full-service veterinary hospital offering wellness care, medical and surgical services, and referrals to specialty practices at their Westhampton location. Bideawee adopters receive a free office visit, and the veterinary clinics provide all medical care needed by the more than 1,000 homeless animals that Bideawee takes in and cares for each year. These services include vaccinations and parasite control; lab work including blood and urine tests; cytology; biopsies; blood pressure tests; and imaging services such as radiography, ultrasounds, and echocardiograms. The clinic also performs dental cleanings and extractions and spay/neuter surgeries. Bideawee employs a highly trained veterinary staff that includes veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, and support staff that use the latest in medical equipment and technology to care for every animal that comes through the door.
Bideawee offers animal adoption services at three locations in the metropolitan New York area. But at Bideawee you won’t be left to wander cold, loud halls of chain-link cages to find a pet on your own. Instead, Bideawee uses trained “matchmakers” who can help you find the perfect pet for your family. Bideawee’s matchmakers know the animals well, and they spend ample time with potential adopters assessing preferences, lifestyle, and personality so that they can ensure compatible, lasting matches between people and pets. Bideawee’s adoption centers in Manhattan, Westhampton, and Wantagh have a wide variety of adoptable animals, all of which have been medically, emotionally, and behaviorally screened so that they are prepared to enter a home. Prospective adopters can view all of the animals available for adoption online and can apply to adopt online as well. Have a question about a particular animal? Does this dog like cats? Is this dog potty trained? Is this cat child friendly? Just ask a Bideawee matchmaker, and you'll get the answer!
Historically, Bideawee has always maintained a large volunteer program, which contributes to the organization’s strength. These volunteers work to facilitate adoptions, clean kennels, socialize and train the animals, complete home visits and paperwork—everything needed to keep the shelter running smoothly. The contribution of Bideawee’s volunteers cannot be overstated. As the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact New York City, Bideawee reduced its volunteer corps to roughly 300 active volunteers to meet health and safety protocols. While Bideawee was able to maintain all its paid staff during the pandemic, 99% of the animals in their care were moved to volunteer foster homes to reduce the number of people in the shelter facility and thus maintain social distancing. Bideawee retained their vibrant volunteer foster community through the pandemic, and last year roughly 700 animals were living in Bideawee volunteer foster homes!
Feral Cat Initiative
In early 2019, Bideawee took over responsibility for the operation and management of New York City’s Feral Cat Initiative (FCI), which was previously run by the Mayor’s Alliance. The Feral Cat Initiative is an innovative program that addresses the cat overpopulation problem by providing education, resources, and support toward the humane reduction of New York City’s community cats. Handling the influx of animals in need during kitten season is a large part of what the FCI works toward. FCI certifies feral cat rescuers in the community to do Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) operations, which greatly assists in reducing the stray cat population and helps to lessen community complaints about the noise and smell from feral cats. As Leslie Granger noted, “[TNR is] so important as an education tool. We certify people in the community to do Trap, Neuter, Release and to take care of community cats.” In addition, as COVID lockdowns forced Bideawee’s training offerings to be moved to virtual platforms, Bideawee collaborated with and reached out to rescue organizations and individuals all over the country and the world to help train animal rescuers in TNR and other animal-rescue issues.
Bideawee believes that the relationship between humans and animals is a symbiotic one that, when nurtured, can improve many aspects of life for both humans and animals. The importance of this bond is why Bideawee strives to find homes for as many homeless animals as they can, while also working hard to support the people in their community through their pet therapy programs and with pet memorial services and pet loss support.
Bideawee’s pet therapy program started in 1986. The program aims to train handlers and animals to visit nursing homes, hospitals, and schools, providing love and companionship to those in need. The innovative Reading to Dogs program is another Bideawee pet therapy project. Children improve their reading skills and gain confidence by working with a pet therapy volunteer team and reading to a dog that serves as a non-judgmental audience. Reading to Dogs is hosted at local schools and libraries.
Bideawee offers pet memorial services so that pet parents can pay tribute to their beloved companions. In 1916 Bideawee established the Pet Memorial Parks so that grieving pet owners would have a place of peace and serenity to lay their pets to rest with a traditional burial and headstone. In 1964 President Nixon buried his beloved dog Checkers at the memorial park in Wantagh. Bideawee also has free pet loss support groups at all of their locations for people who may need help grieving the loss of a beloved pet. The people at Bideawee know it can be a hard and emotional journey so they bring people together who are experiencing grief and mourning. The support groups are facilitated by qualified volunteers specializing in animal bereavement or who are licensed clinical social workers (LCSW).
Bideawee recently completed a five-year strategic plan in which they identified Community Initiatives as one of the areas where they would like to focus their efforts. The biggest initiative, aimed at one of the largest problems in the NY rescue community, is the availability of free and low-cost spay/neuter services. So, in the next five years, Bideawee hopes to forge partnerships with other rescues, veterinarians, and mobile spay/neuter clinics to increase the availability of free and low-cost spay/neuter services. They also hope to have a bigger impact in reducing the feral cat population through TNR, which also relies heavily on the availability of spay/neuter services.
Bideawee is also excitedly looking forward to the summer of 2022 when they will open their new headquarters in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan! After a three-year search, Bideawee purchased a building that they are retrofitting to serve as a state-of-the-art animal rescue facility. Not only will the vibrant area of Chelsea be an amazing location for a community animal shelter, but the new space includes something extremely rare in city shelters—an enclosed grassy outdoor training and enrichment space for the animals!
The staff and volunteers of Bideawee believe that pets are family members who deserve a life-long commitment. They strive to provide the services and resources needed to help adopters and their four-legged family members form a permanent bond so they can live safe, healthy, happy lives together!