She should be wearing a halo.
Susan Marino has opened her home to innumerable terminally ill animals, providing them medicine, food, shelter and best of all, love.
Marino takes care of 150 terminally ill animals including 40 cats, 40 pigeons, 26 dogs, 25 exotic birds, 20 chickens, 12 raccoons, 10 squirrels, 4 rabbits, 3 ponies, 2 possums, and one swan. They all live with her in her 4 bedroom ranch in Ft. Salonga, Long Island, requiring care 365 days a year and 7 days a week. Running the hospice is Susan’s full time job. She calls it a “lifestyle choice she wouldn’t change for the world.”
Nine years ago Marino opened up Angel’s Gate, a hospice and rehabilitation center that cares for terminally ill animals. Her partner Victor LaBruna, a former director of a workshop for special needs adults, joined her in her mission to create a peaceful sanctuary where animals can go during their final days.
“I don’t know if I chose to do this,” said Marino, who walked away from a six-figure salary working as a pediatric ICU and ER nurse, a job she had for 33 years. “I don’t know if anyone wants to work 24/7, but I think I was chosen to do this by a greater force.”
Marino, who between LaBruna and herself has eight children, called her crusade risky at first. “This was a very big leap of faith for us because I was the sole provider at home,” she said; her decision meant that they would have to rely entirely on people’s donations.
Marino, reflecting on the first animal she ever took in, Humphrey, a shitzu with a broken back, says this experience made her realize that her furry and feathered friends needed her more than her human patients did.
“It was very difficult to be up all night with an animal who was having seizures and hand it over to Victor so I could go to work and try to function all day,” said Marino, who uses her nursing and emergency room skills to care for animals with various illnesses including, cancer, liver and kidney disease, vaccineosis, ruptured disks, hip dysplexia, cruciated ligaments and seizures. “I wanted to be there. My heart went out when I left them.”
For more information about Angel’s Gate, or if you want to give a donaton, please write to 18 Josephine Lane, Ft. Salonga, NY 11768, call 631-269-7641, or visit www.angelsgate.org.
– Ruth Bashinsky