My heart goes out to Sara’s family and friends, four- and two-footed.
Pets Alive founder, Sara Whalen, dies
By Kristina Wells
Sara Whalen’s passion, her life’s work, took its toll. The Pets Alive founder broke her back trying to move a pony she had rescued and brought to her Wallkill sanctuary. Doctors using a rod to stabilize her back made a grim discovery; a tumor. The cancer started in her lungs and had spread.
This afternoon, Whalen died at the Horton campus of Orange Regional Medical Center. She was 64.
Whalen took in the throw aways, the ill, injured, neglected and abused cats, dogs, horses, even pot belly pigs for 35 years. But her love for animals started in her youth growing up in Binghamton. As a teenager, her
brother Bill Seiden recalls, she tackled a state trooper who had shot a black Labrador that had been hit by a car.
At Pets Alive, she found homes for some, but not all. The unwanted, unadoptable always lived out their days in peace, in her care at the Wallkill sanctuary.
Bill Seiden spoke about his sister’s work with the kind of admiration that led him to establish a rescue of his own in Avon, Conn. He talked of her struggles too; how Whalen’s dedication to the thousands and thousands of animals she saved led to her marriage crumbling, her health deteriorating and financial hardships that at one time almost cost her the sanctuary in a foreclosure more than a decade ago.
Community support and generosity rescued Pets Alive from a certain end back then.
The same outpouring happened in the past couple of months with friends taking up the cause in Whalen’s stead. A shelter in Utah sent volunteers to mind the sanctuary. Internet posts from supporters, including rock band Matchbox20 lead singer Rob Thomas and his wife, Marisol, have asked for donations and people’s time.
“That was her life,” Seiden said. “She saved over 7,000 dogs. Dogs that were certain for the executioner so to speak. She cared for them, fought for them.”
Whalen is survived by two sons, Adam and Timothy. Arrangement details are not yet available.