In a world where old, ill, injured, and disabled animals are all too often unwanted and abandoned, there are few safe havens. Angel's Gate Animal Hospice in upstate New York is one of them.
When Susan Marino founded Angel's Gate in 1993, she envisioned a place where animals with special needs would be welcomed with open arms. Today, Angel's Gate is home to nearly 400 animals including dogs, cats, chickens, parrots, ponies, swans, pigeons, geese and rabbits!
The animals have a range of abilities, and it's not unusual to see dogs rolling along on wheels or cats with diabetes-related blindness basking in the sun. The emphasis, says founder and director Susan Marino, is "on what they can do as opposed to what they can't." She notes that visitors to the sanctuary are "likely to be impressed with the vitality of our family members even though they are 'special needs' animals."
Samson (shown above middle) is a handsome brindle boxer who was born with a form of dwarfism. Like 90-95% of the dogs who arrive at Angel's Gate, he came from a puppy mill. Along with the other animals, Samson will be lovingly cared for for despite his disability. As Susan told Oprah, "What we do is make a commitment to the animal for a lifetime so that they know that they're never going to be abandoned. They're going to be loved the rest of their lives."
Susan gave up a lucrative job as a registered nurse 18 years ago, determined to care for "the misfits and the cast-offs of our society." With a new 100 acre location in upstate New York, world-wide acclaim, and the $50,000 grand prize from Rachael Ray's "Mutt Madness" contest, it seems safe to say that Susan has realized her goal with Angel's Gate. Best of all, her work has inspired countless others to open their hearts and homes to disabled animals. Click here to see a video clip of the Angel's gate animals in action (Samson included!).