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LI Pet Rescue Group Scrambles To Find Homes For Dogs, Cats

MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island pet rescue group has been working around the clock to find temporary or permanent homes for dozens of animals after officials deemed it unsafe.

Friends of Freddie in Middle Island was told to get out of a shopping center on Middle Country Road last December after it was cited for numerous violations, 1010 WINS reported.

The fire marshal said the building is not up to code, and the no-kill shelter was given until 5 p.m. Friday to move out its 121 dogs and 26 cats, WCBS 880 reported.

Volunteer and board member Linda Deaguiar said they are working on relocating the animals.

"It's been a very rough 24 hours, not only for us but for the animals," Deaguiar told 1010 WINS. "We had a lot of people that are willing to foster, we also are putting dogs into boarding until we have all of the issues in the building taken care of."

Deaguiar stressed they are not an illegal rescue.

"We are a 501-C rescue and we plan on staying open," she said. "We're going to take care of the issues in the building that need to be taken care of and then we will be up and running and saving dogs' lives as usual."

As CBS2's Cindy Hsu reported, it was love at first sight for many of the animal lovers who lined up outside the rescue on Friday.

Many had seen the shelter's Facebook plea to adopt its pets after fire marshals shut down the business.

"She was found in the woods. She's so cute, little puppy," Riely and Mackenzie Dash said.

Shelter operators blamed the strip mall owners for not complying with town code. They pointed out that the town did not find that any of the animals had been abused.

Officials said the shelter had been warned for months, but kept bringing in more pets. The shelter was able to sign up many people willing to adopt.

"It's so heartbreaking. They're just, they're just so cute. I can't imagine them not having a home. They just wanted to be loved," Ryan said.

Board member Leandra Conde said they are working with an architect to make the building up to code.

"We're very concerned," Conde told WCBS 880. "We've made a pledge to save this animals and no matter what, that's what we're trying to do."

Town managers are also ticketing the strip mall owners for the same building violations and said they will face court actions as well.

Officials said the crackdown is partly the result of a Coram fire that killed several animals inside an illegally operating shelter.

Meanwhile, a pet rehabilitation center in the same shopping center said it was forced to relocate its cats because of a problem with the building's fire system.

"I mean look at my hands. They're bitten. I rehabilitate abused animals. That's what happens to me. Now I have cats in here that are stressed out," Meredith Festa of Paws Unite People said.

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