Thursday, August 2, 2007

ASPCA with Linda Lambert

Linda Lambert (right) with Cynthia Lufkin and Mark Gilbertson
By Nancy A. Ruhling           

It was the puppy at the back of the cage that caught Linda Lambert’s
eye and stole her heart. The little grey schnauzer-poodle mix with the big coffee-color eyes was so traumatized that his owner was putting him up for adoption at the ASPCA’s Manhattan shelter that he had chewed all the fur off of his fuzzy front legs.

“He was so sad looking that I knew if I didn’t adopt him, nobody else would,” says Lambert. “He was the only dog I took out, and as soon as I did, I took him home.”

That day, she got much more than Trusty, who after 14 years still is her constant companion. She also got a mission: To work with the ASPCA to make sure that pets like Trusty find good homes.

For Lambert, who has been vice chair of the board of New York City’s ASPCA for a decade, the idea of dedicating herself to helping animals was second nature. The child of what she calls “very tolerant parents,” she had grown up living with a menagerie of dogs, birds, fish, rabbits and chipmunks. When she had her own family, there always was a place for pets and her grown children have carried on her tradition by adopting animals. “There’s something incredibly therapeutic about pets,” she says. “Petting them takes all the stress away.”

Four years ago, Lambert was so smitten by Sweetie, a white terrier mix who has more than lived up to her name, that she adopted her through a local rescue group.
Joanne de Guardiola and Linda Lambert
Linda Lambert and Henry Silverman
Katie Couric, Linda Lambert, and Jill Rappaport
Linda and Ben Lambert
With some 300 animals at the Manhattan ASPCA on any given day, Lambert says it is crucial for people to adopt. “We are among 100 humane organizations that go to the city’s shelter every week to rescue animals,” she says. “We never euthanize them; we will let them stay in the shelter forever if we have to.”

Margo MacNabb, Linda Lambert, and Somers Farkas
The ASPCA’s annual benefit, which Lambert chairs in April, attracts 350 animal lovers, who come for cocktails, dinner, dancing, a live auction and a chance to chat dog and cat. “I’m passionate about pets and about the mission and work of the ASPCA,” she says, adding that the national organization’s $60-million budget comes from private donations. “For that reason, it’s easy for me to raise money for the cause. And the money is put to good use – we spend thousands of dollars on each pet.”

Lambert, who used to buy pets from breeders and shops, says having Trusty and Sweetie has taught her the value of adopting from shelters and rescue groups. And it’s easier than ever to peruse and pursue paws: The ASPCA encourages visits to its 92nd Street shelter, where neutered and spayed pets may be adopted for donations of $75 to $150, and Petfinder.com offers one-stop shopping across the country.

“I encourage people to adopt pets like Trusty and Sweetie,” she says. “Pets don’t care if you have a bad hair day. You don’t have to do anything for them. All you have to do is be. I can’t imagine living without them.” For more information, go to www.aspca.org

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