COVID 19 Response

IMPORTANT INFO. Posted on 3/16/2020, regarding shelter operations in the face of the ever-changing situation:

Dear NiSHA Friends,

I would like to update you on what NiSHA is doing to keep our staff, volunteers and members of the public safe during this time. This is a fluid situation and our understanding about this virus and its societal impacts is changing by the hour. We will continue to share information as we have it to ensure your safety, and that of our community, and the animals we care for.

NiSHA will be closed to the public starting today, Monday, March 16, 2020.

Staff members will be taking care of our animals on a limited basis in rotation. At this time, only staff, no volunteers, will be allowed in the building.

If anyone needs to surrender an animal or you rely on NiSHA’s Pet Food Pantry to feed your pets at home, please call us and we will arrange to assist you. We will continue to stay true to our mission that we will never turn away an animal in need. If you see a stray animal, please call the police department as they still have access to the shelter. If you have an animal medical emergency, please call Offshore Animal Hospital. They are also closed to the public, but still seeing emergencies.

NiSHA: 508-825-2287 Ext. 1

Offshore Animal Hospital: 508-228-1491

Police Department: 508-228-1212

Animal Care:

• There is no indication that animals can contract this illness. However, there’s the potential the virus
can live on an animal, like it can a doorknob, a countertop, or any object.

• We strongly encourage you to make plans for your animals just like you would if you were preparing to be away from home for a couple of weeks. That is, to stock up on an extra two weeks of pet supplies and have a pet sitter identified should you need hospitalization.

Key Points:

o Identify a family member or friend who can care for pets if someone in your household becomes ill;

o Have crates, food and extra supplies on hand for quick movement of pets;

o Keep all animal vaccines up to date in the event boarding becomes necessary;

o Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering directions, including the prescription from your veterinarian;

o Pets should have identification: collar with ID tag and microchip (best practice is microchipping);

o Have a medical consent form ready allowing a designated caregiver to make medical decisions for your pet if you need to be hospitalized.

Thank you for your understanding and patience. Stay well! Sincerely,

Jessica Sosebee, Executive Director

RIP Oreo, 2005-2019

Oreo was born on Nantucket in 2005, and spent his life in the Crooked Lane area of the island. Born with a kidney defect, Oreo was not a candidate for adoption and was therefore made a lifelong resident of the shelter. He became a much beloved greeter at the MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center, and when the MSPCA left the island and NiSHA was created, he became a founding member, even ”grandfathered” into the rental lease with Offshore Animal Hospital. 

Sometimes known as “Sir Leaks A Lot,” Oreo had kidney and bladder issues that we were told would take his life at a very young age. Much to our surprise and delight, he lived 12 years longer than expected!







The only shelter animal with independent outdoor privileges, he was the quintessential cat: always on the wrong side of the door. He loved the outdoors and would often run up to eat at the feral cat feeder out back, or go in search of small critters to “play” with.





Since the very beginning, Oreo was a friend to all: an Animal Ambassador who visited with children in schools and at the shelter; our unofficial dog “tester,” who let us know which dogs would do well in a home with a cat; a willing “patient” when we needed to show a volunteer how to pill a cat; and, as some of you know, Calista’s beau of many years. 

His late in life love affair with Calista was well-documented and rich fodder for shelter drama, gossip, and social media exploitation. Initiated by Calista, and tolerated by Oreo, the affair lasted until his death. Begrudgingly accepting her head butts and grooming in the beginning, Oreo would soon reciprocate in kind.

Oreo was pre-deceased by his shelter cat friend, Camilla. He leaves behind—and will be greatly missed by—Calista and the staff and volunteers of NiSHA and Offshore Animal Hospital.

Those wishing to honor Oreo can make a gift in his name to NiSHA: PO Box 2844, Nantucket, 02584 or at

Edith’s Pups of Christmas Past Check In

Three years ago today, Edith and her 8 pups arrived at NiSHA, just in time to give 9 families a Christmas they would not soon forget.

Recently we got a great update on this crew. Every pup has grown up to be just as gentle and loving as their mom. In words and pictures. . .

“Edith was the most beautiful, perfect, loving mama dog. From the minute those pups were born, she was gentle and watchful, but Edith was also proud of those pups and happy to share them with humans. She was always there to insure that her puppy’s interactions with other LMR pups were positive. Edith was never aggressive but rather strong and protective. There are so many lessons that Edith teaches the world about love.”—Barb Mauller, Little Mountain Rescue

Edith and her newly born pups at Little Mountain Rescue in Mississippi.


Edith with 2 of her pups when they arrived on Nantucket.

“I think one of the funniest examples of the protective mama was when they were released from isolation. Craig had sewn bells onto their ‘Adopt Me’ scarves, as it was just before Christmas. As each puppy was released, Edith made sure to get that thing off of each pup. It would have made a great video but everyone was too busy laughing!”—Lori Smith, NiSHA

Edith taking care of her new “pup” in her home on the Cape.


“Macy is enjoying life with her new baby brother, Mac. We weren’t sure how she would do with the baby, but she is so gentle and they love playing with their toys together. Her energy is relentless, she loves going for runs and every dog she meets she’s convinced is her new best friend.  She loved seeing her sister Skyler at the fair recently!  Hopefully we will meet up again soon!”—Sarah and Brett

Macy enjoying life!


“Eme is such a good dog with a very soft demeanor about her. . . inquisitive, but gentle as they come. She loves her big brother Georgie and I don’t think he can imagine life without her now. They are the loves of our lives and we wouldn’t have it any other way!”—Martina and Sean

Eme having fun on Nantucket.

“Tuck is the love our life . . . . He has grown into this massive boy that will take out your hip  if you aren’t watching.”—Cathy and Mark

Tuck, Edith’s only boy child, makes himself at home.


Luna, along with her dad Henry, runs her own doggie day care!


Mamie loving the outdoors.


Nan on a hike!


Skyler got her mom’s eyes.

Spring Brings New Families

We’ve had so many joyful adoptions this spring. Here’s a big scoop of them.

Chris, Christina and Maddie welcome little Clara.


Bess’s rescuing angel could not wait to get his arms around this shy girl. She is making good progress, going to the local park and dog store in search of squirrels and cookies with her new buddy Scout.


Betsey just had to have Gisli for her very own, just what she’d been waiting for.


The Barrett clan welcomes Buddy. What’s one more?


Catherine tricks her foster family, the Vollans, into keeping her forever. We don’t think it took much trickery.


Rex (AKA Crown) joins his new family: Monique, Trevor and Nate.


David Copperfield found love with Chris and Ranna.


Edgar Lindon is headed to the farm with Lis, Al and Lina.


Elizabeth Jane Newson changed her name to Bailey Zachary just recently. If you are looking for her she will be hanging out with her new family Kyle, Rebecca and Clair.


Emmet moves to Maine (brrrr), just moments from the beach with his new mom and dad, Megan and Gabriel.


Ham and his new mom Rachael. BFF’s.


Heathcliff was quickly snatched up by Tyler and Sam. Plan on seeing “Finn” out on the trails!


Valerie, Matt, Tucker and Bruschi welcome tiny Hettie (now Stella), who rules the roost!


Introducing Bella (Isabella Linton) Fuller. It takes an active girl to keep up with her active family: Gracie, Sara, Jimmy and James.


James, the little devil, snagged himself not one, but FOUR new girlfriends: Bailey, Ayla, Cheryl and Cully.


Clownish Jango has his own girl to entertain now. Isabella is thrilled to have her first canine companion.


Joshua Jopp (now Fin Mscisz) landed himself in a big, dog-loving family. Toby, an adopted mastiff, sealed the deal when he offered himself up as his protector.


Allison and Tyler were immediately smitten with Lucetta and had to have her join their family.


Milo (formerly Micheal Henchard) is the center of this busy family. He has lots to do going to work with dad and keeping watch of his kids Brodie, Avalon and Curran.


Nancy wins over patient Laura and is dubbed Nessa. She has come a long way from her shy start.


Nelly Dean headed to Newburyport to find her perfect home with Suzanne.


Genji (formerly Porgy) joins Molly (formerly Miss Pross), who was adopted late last year. He is going to be Jack’s special friend while Molly works his mom and sis (Megan and Jamie).


A Little Mountain Rescue twofer, Brian and Angela add Richard Newson into their home, where Milo (formerly Hank) has already settled in.

Pascal finds a family with the Cranes and is forever known as Bugsy.


Susan’s got herself a man. David said it was love at first sight.

A Shelter May/December Romance Blossoms

Let’s be blunt: when Calista came to the shelter she was not winning any popularity contests. A “typical torti,” she’d hiss and swat as soon as she was close enough for contact. Understandably, she was upset and stressed to be thrust into a new situation, and into a room she had to share with many strange cats. 







Along came Oreo. Actually, Oreo was already there. A10-year resident of the shelter, Oreo’s medical issues prevent him from being adopted, and to him the shelter IS home. 









From the start Calista made overtures to Oreo. Deftly pushing her head into him as he’d pass by. Lying close to him on whatever surface he happened to be napping or (a-hem) washing up on.


However, Oreo was not to be won over so easily. You see, he’d seen them come, and he’d seen them go. Perhaps he didn’t want to get too attached to anyone, lest he or she be adopted and he lost yet another friend . . .    







But Calista’s charms were too great  . . . and finally Oreo succumbed.

Now, they groom each other and sleep together in the same bed.

They’ve found comfort and friendship for however much time they have together.

Calista and Oreo (watch them in action).

And love has softened Calista, too, who now approaches people for affection and attention . . . when Oreo’s not around.


Winter Love Matches

With 2 batches of Little Mountain Rescue pups and a revolving door of Land to Sea cats arriving from Turkey, the cape, and New Jersey, the shelter has been simply hopping with adoptions! Here are some of the latest!

Darcy and Wink welcome newcomer Rose, left.


Susan scooped up the beautiful Fisher boy.


Mac hits the Jackpot with Julie, Carl and Jimmy!


Mrs. Fezziweg, now Maddy, is happy  to live on the Cape with Mary.


Thomas sweeps Mrs. Cratchit off her feet and over to Marstons Mills.


Mary and Steve fall for Peter Cratchit and decide Moby is a more fitting name for this energetic pup, who is always on the move.


Jimmy’s new girl. . . Hazel (formerly Belinda).



Amy couldn’t be happier with Sandy (aka Belle).


Theresa welcomes Holly (now Luna) just in time for Christmas.


Carl and the former Bob Cratchit, now known as Lenny.


Once Bobo was featured at Geronimo’s, he didn’t last long. The Backuses scooped him up in short order!


One of our foster families, the Polchinskis, added Clarise to their pack. Here she is with dad Buzz.


The former Fan, now Tessa, finds love with the O’Dell family.



Introduing Fred Guilderson and family, of Plymouth, MA.


Anna, one of our foster moms, was surprised by her boyfriend, who adopted Harlis for Anna for Christmas! Sleigh bells ring!


The Levys fell instantly for Helen, and off she went, to be forever known as Bella.


Mary chose beautiful Houdina and gave her the very Nantucket-y name of Macy.



Jacob, Jake for short, joins the Dussault family. Who wouldn’t want two lifelong girlfriends?



Our own staff and volunteer extraordinaire, Deron, finally meets his match in sweet, smart Macky!



Miss Pross waited for the perfect match before choosing the Buhlers, who call her Molly.



The Milnes, of Wilmington, MA, chose Mr. Fezziweg and dubbed him Wyatt.


Sassy Nip was super picky, but finally settled on new mom Alyssa.


Oliver Twist, Ollie for short, finds a friend in Allia.



Nomad, of Turkey, goes to live with Tara, of Nantucket.


The Cruzes meant only to foster Toby (center), but we all know how that goes. . .


Cary Hazlegrove snapped this at Pet Photos with Santa. The Hunters, volunteers and fosterers, officially adopted Toby (second from right), which brought their current total to 4 (but overall total to 6 of foster-to-adopts). We dub them the official NiSHA Angels!

Happy Fifth Anniversary, NiSHA!

When the MSPCA departed Nantucket 5 years ago, leaving the island with no animal shelter, a group of dedicated volunteers met to ensure that all stray and homeless animals would be cared for until they were reunited with their families or adopted into life-long, responsible new homes. At that meeting, Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals was born.


All-volunteer run for almost 2 years, NiSHA slowly secured funding, built its infrastructure and created programs for Nantucket families. By year 4, we had hired staff, developed and expanded our programs, and created collaborations with other area agencies to help even more people and pets.

Five years later, our programs include Land to Sea Pet Rescue, which brings adoptable animals to the island; a robust school-year and summer Humane Education program; Lucky Whiskers and Wags Fund, which offers grants to help Nantucketers with emergency medical care for pets; a Pet Food Pantry; a Spay/Neuter Fund; and a Seniors with Pets Assistance fund to help senior citizens with pet care.

To date, NiSHA has cared for over 1,200 stray and homeless animals and aided countless Nantucket families with their pets.

We could not have done it without the Nantucket community—both individuals in the form of donors and volunteers, and businesses as partners and sponsors—rallying behind us.

adoptlittle3 To help celebrate, NiSHA will be giving away a Shelter Pet Goodie Basket. Enter here!

THANK YOU for caring about Nantucket’s lost and homeless pets and their families!



Happy Tails: Our Recent Home Goings

It’s been a busy summer and fall at NiSHA. We’ve had great success finding our cats, birds, bunnies and dogs new, loving homes both on Nantucket and beyond. Enjoy these pictures of our happiest tails!cynthia

Cynthia may have adopted Tigger and Bear, but we adopted Cynthia as a new board member! Welcome!



Blather, now Jackson, and his mom Dani.



Blather’s brother, Duff, now Jax, with his new mom Jenny.



Noelle has gone to live on the cape with Brenna and family. Grandma lives down the street and keeps the cookie jar full for all her grand dogs. Noelle is already having a blast at the neighborhood dog park.



Tom, now Jax, goes home with Emily and friend.



Jarek adopted Robin a while back, then came for Edward, now Otto. Robin likes to share his crate with his new little buddy.



Beautiful Bertha, now Mosie, goes home with the Dailys.



Mr. Fang Poe and new dad Jimmy.



The eyes have it! Abby goes home with Billy.



Richard found himself a family, a “failed foster” family at that!



Moo didn’t last a minute in the shelter. Briana scooped him right up!



Jetty finds love with Alyssa.



Mrs. Sowerberry, now Haven, scored a great home with her new best buddy Huckleberry to show her the way.



Fluff and Buttercup get a wonderful indoor home!



Samantha joins the Gould Clan!



Mrs. Cornay, now Money Penny (far left), joins the Penrose brood, all big Patriots fans!



Patty takes on both Aaron and Alexa (not shown), so as not to separate the sibs.



The Artful Dodger becomes Odi and goes to live with the Thornewills.



Fagin, now Finn, decided to be a manny, and is charged with caring for the Brooks twins!



Keith waited a long time for his very own Princess. Now he and Sandy can live happily ever after.



Adele becomes Summer and goes to live with Griffin, Amy and family.



Brady finds a new family with Maria and Zach.


Bill Sikes (now Bruno) found himself some great friends in Nikolas and Victoria, who are already clicker training him!


Bella got scooped up when the family came to volunteer. Not expecting to adopt, they fell instantly for Bella, and away she went!



Lottie, now Bella, goes home with the Murrays. Sue is one of our Nantucket Steamship Authority angels, so she gets to see the LMR pups coming and going!



And last, but certainly not least, Lori Smith, our own Dog Adoption Coordinator, snagged Robinhood (now Cooker), bringing her personal Mississippi Mutt adoption total to 6!

And THAT is how lives get saved. THANK YOU to all of our adopters, fosterers, volunteers, and supporters. Together we can save them all!

The Lady, the Prince, and the Frog: A Foster Tale

Nitro leaves Nantucket with Tara.

Covered in fatty tumors, walking at a rambling snail’s pace, 13-year-old Nitro was surrendered to the shelter due to a move. His sister, surrendered at the same time, had such a large tumor that she sadly did not survive the surgery to remove it. Left without his lifetime companion, Nitro was looking at a sad future: a long time spent in the shelter while he awaited that very special person willing to adopt a large senior dog.

Nitro, however, had one more card to play: he was one of the sweetest, gentlest, most caring dogs we’d ever met. And he was going to play that card in spades!

At NiSHA, we believe in fostering: getting a shelter pet into a real home allows that pet the feeling of family life, even if only for a short time. We also believe that you have to be creative to find the best option for an animal.

So when the opportunity for an off-island foster home arrived, Lori Smith, our dog adoption coordinator, jumped at the opportunity and came up with a plan to make it work.

Tara, the potential fosterer, was in a difficult transitional period in her own life, and thought a dog would be great company and therapy for her. However, she knew that she was not financially ready for the commitment a pet brings. Fostering would be the perfect fit for her. So she started searching PetFinder for adult and senior dogs near her, and that’s where she found Nitro!

When volunteers were in Hyannis to pick up the LMR dogs, they’d get a visit with Nitro and Tara!

Since she manages the educational farm at Camp Burgess & Hayward (a branch of the South Shore YMCA in Sandwich, MA), she figured she could foster Nitro in the quieter winter months, but in the summer, when camp is in full swing, he’d need to come back to the island.

But she didn’t figure on that card Nitro was carrying. His sweet nature and easy-going, therapeutic personality quickly worked their magic on the other staff and the campers. Tara writes:

“Nitro’s lumpy face, mismatched ears, and incredible disposition won over everyone who met him, whether he was holding down the fort in the office, keeping an eye on the livestock at the farm, accepting love and pets as campers filed into the dining hall, or lounging in the pond by my dock watching the boats go by. On one extraordinarily difficult day, when one of our young staff members unexpectedly passed away, Nitro stepped up as an unofficial therapy dog for our grieving campers and staff—many campers who weren’t comfortable talking to their peers or to the grief counselors instead opted to sit with Nitro, taking comfort in his quiet, loving presence. It’s no exaggeration to say that he brought joy to hundreds of lives during his time at Camp Burgess.”

Nitro lived at the camp surrounded by natural beauty—a pond to wade in, trees for shade—and loving children and adults who adored him. He was experiencing what maybe were the best months of his entire life in what must have seemed like heaven to him.

But now over 14 years old, his large body was slowing down and becoming ill, and soon the vet recommended euthanasia. When the day came, the staff and campers returned Nitro’s favor of supportive love and care. On the day he was humanely euthanized, the staff surrounded him with love:

Nitro enjoys his last day by the pond with a chewy.

“Nitro went easily and comfortably . . . he was lying at the edge of the pond, snacking on delicious treats and surrounded by people who love him.”

And he did not go alone. Tara relates: “As we were digging his grave, a frog came and tucked itself into his blanket and kept watch until we were ready to move Nitro—a kind little sentry to usher him along to his next version of heaven!”

This frog saw Nitro through his transition. The sweetest of Guardian Angels.

What looked like a bleak life for Nitro turned into a life-enriching experience for him, for Tara, and for all the lives he touched. Thank you to Tara, a foster mom willing to open her heart to an older dog; to the camp staff willing to step in and share his care during the busy summer months; and, most importantly, to Nitro, whose own generous and loving spirit secured him a spot in heaven on earth.

If you think you’d like to foster a shelter pet, visit our website to find out more here.