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Talking Puppy Love with Michelle Montak of Gimme Shelter Animal Rescue

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The Hamptons is known for being full of animal lovers, but Sagaponack resident Michelle Montak stands out. Michelle, founder of Gimme Shelter Animal Rescue, has saved more than 750 dogs from high-kill shelters in the past four years and found homes for all of them—and she has done this all without an actual facility.

Michelle works with a network of fosters to bring these dogs out of shelters until they can find permanent homes. The animals are given veterinary care if needed, vaccinations, neutering, and microchipping. One of her biggest supporters is Ellen Scarborough. She and husband Chuck adopted two dogs from Gimme Shelter, and Ellen now sits on the board. The Scarboroughs' home is the site of the rescue's annual benefit, which is tomorrow, and always a wonderful party. The rescue relies on donations to survive: all adoption fees go directly to the transportation and medical needs of the dogs.

We're big dog lovers here at Curbed Hamptons, so we wanted to start by thanking you for helping all these animals. Have you always been a dog lover?
Yes! My mother says as soon as i was old enough to walk I chased every animal that crossed my path to give them a bug hug! She always worried they would bite me but they never did.

Do you have a favorite breed? How many dogs do you live with at home?
I have a soft spot for the big breeds like Newfies and Great Pyrs. My husband and I have four big beautiful dogs.

Have you always lived in the Hamptons? If not, how did you wind up here?
I grew up in Toronto, Canada. In July 2005 i was visiting a friend in the Hamptons and met my now-husband Eddie. We dated for three years long distance, and after Eddie proposed, we got married and I moved to the Hamptons.

What you're doing is so unusual: caring for so many animals without a facility. Do you ever have any plans to open one?
Our foster based program is pretty unique and very successful. It is definitely a goal to open a facility if we can raise the funds to make it happen. That would allow us to save so many more precious animals.

What's the best part of running a dog rescue? What's the worst part?
Giving these amazing creatures the loving homes they deserve is the best most rewarding part. The worst part is the daily heartbreak because we just can't keep up with all the animals who need help. To see how people abuse and neglect these sweet innocent animals who just want to love us is beyond heartbreaking.

Anything else you'd like our readers to know?
We have rescued and adopted out over 750 dogs in the last three years. We rely on foster homes and donations to keep saving lives so please spread the word and consider fostering! It will be the most rewarding thing you might ever do.

BENEFIT
Home of Ellen and Chuck Scarborough, 520 First Neck Lane, Southampton
Saturday, July 11, 5-8PM, $200 advance, $225 door
Gimme Shelter Animal Rescue's mission is to rescue animals who are about to be euthanized in kill shelters across the country. Enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction to help save animals' lives.
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