With tens of thousands of animals looking for a loving home in New York City, one local sports team has come to their rescue — while also celebrating their own beloved pooch.
Players of the WNBA’s New York Liberty basketball team recently held a photo shoot with a group of rescue dogs from the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society, which works with local groups to save animals in shelters across the city and tri-state area.
According to a recent report, the city's three full-service animal shelters run by Animal Care Centers of NYC care for up to 35,000 animals. The city announced last month that it would provide funding to open new shelters in Queens and the Bronx to provide help to more animals.
The photos of the basketball players and dogs will be part of a promotional calendar giveaway at Saturday's game between the NY Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks at Madison Square Garden. The first 5,000 fans will receive a calendar.
Players pictured in the calendar include forward Adut Bulgak, who posed with Coco, a 5-year-old Labrador retriever and American pitbull terrier mix; and guard Brittany Boyd, who posed with an 8-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix named Freedom.
The calendar also features guard Tina Charles – who is heading to the Olympics this summer and posed with Carmela, a 10-year-old dachshund. Other players in the calendar are Carolyn Swords, Kiah Stokes, Lindsey Harding, Shavonte Zellous, Shoni Schimmel, Sugar Rodgers and Tanisha Wright
The team’s mascot, Maddie, an energetic pooch named after the team’s home arena, also cuddled with some of the rescue dogs for the calendar.
Since creating the calendar, almost all of the dogs, except for Coco, have been adopted.The Best Friends Animal Society will be at the Garden Saturday with a few dogs to interact with fans and share information about adoption.
May 21 is also Maddie’s birthday, which will be celebrated with a cake for the mascot during halftime and activities for kids.
"We are very grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Best Friends Animal Society and Fidelis Care to create a unique and fun giveaway for Maddie's birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden," said Kristin Bernert , SVP, Business & Basketball Operations for the Liberty. "Saturday evening is an outstanding opportunity for fans to celebrate Maddie's 20th and see the Liberty take on another inaugural WNBA team, the Los Angeles Sparks."