Animal Care Center lobby named after heroic Staten Island boy who died trying to save pets
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Every time someone adopts a pet from the newly opened animal care center in Charleston, they will be honoring the legacy of one of Staten Island’s bravest animal lovers.
On Wednesday, Animal Care Centers of NYC held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new state-of-the-art facility on the South Shore, with the building’s lobby dedicated to Tommy Monahan, a 9-year-old Staten Islander who lost his life in 2007 while trying to save his pets during a fire.
The Monahan family was present at Wednesday’s ceremony, with Tommy’s sister Gabrielle fighting back tears during a moving speech in honor of her late brother.
“My brother was a brilliant ray of light, so brilliant that even in just nine years of living on this Earth, he left such a profound legacy that it lives on today,” she said. “Tommy showed me that it’s not how much time you live that matters, it’s how you decide to live your day.”
During her speech, Monahan spoke about the importance of the joy that pets bring into our lives and how their own animal adoption helped them cope with the grief of losing Tommy.
“Nearly 15 years ago when the unthinkable happened and we lost my brother, our world turned to total darkness,” she said. “We knew to survive we had to bring light, even if it was just a sliver, and it came in the form of a little mixed-breed pup. . . We named her Molly Hope.
“As we cared for her, she cared for us by nurturing us and loving us unconditionally. She was there to comfort us through tears and gave us reasons to get up, even when we felt mentally and physically incapacitated. We were shocked to be able to smile again and credit this girl’s love for our survival,” she continued.
Mayor Eric Adams made an appearance at the event, granting the family a proclamation declaring October 26, 2022, Tommy Monahan Day in New York City.
“Today we come together to take up Tommy’s torch and turn this burial into a plantation, which will provide a bountiful harvest that will sustain the lives of countless animals across Staten Island for years to come,” the mayor said. . “The creation of the new Staten Island Animal Care Center, initially inspired by Tommy’s incredible heroism, now has the capacity to house more animals than ever before.”
Borough President Vito Fossella spoke about the importance of continuing Tommy’s legacy and discussed an exciting new program to achieve this.
“It’s about celebrating not only Tommy’s life, but being missionaries for who he was and what he did,” he said. “To carry out this mission, in a few weeks we will go to PS 36, the school he had attended, and enter fourth grade and follow the Tommy Monahan Pet Talk teaching program.”
While the program will start small in fourth-grade PS 36 classrooms, the borough president hopes to expand it to all schools on Staten Island and across the city in the coming years.
Former Borough President James Molinaro, who launched the long-running project with a $3 million funding stipend during his tenure, received a stuffed animal from the Animal Care Center for the role he starred in introducing this new facility to Staten Island.
“It’s really great what we’re doing here today and naming this in memory of a great young man who knew companion animal values,” Molinaro said. “It’s people like him who not only make Staten Island, but the country and the world, a better place for all of us.”
Risa Weinstock, executive director of Animal Care Centers of New York, said the new facility is a big improvement over the previous one, with more than twice as much space to house and care for animals.
“Animal welfare has evolved over the past 10 years with a lot of emphasis on the quality of care inside shelters,” Weinstock said. “We want the best life for animals before they find homes.”
Staten Islanders looking to adopt a pet can visit https://www.nycacc.org/ to register for an appointment to visit the shelter and complete an application form.