Most people have visited Atlas Mall, enjoying the shops and restaurants and the upbeat, outdoor environment.

The next time you visit the Mall, take notice of Bobbi and the Strays, a shelter for unwanted and abandoned animals. Bobbi Giordano, the owner and founder of Bobbi and the Strays, started her crusade over ten years ago. She sublets space at the Vet Port at JFK Airport where she takes care of the larger dogs that are left in her care.

Last year, at Bobbi’s annual Halloween Ball, Bobbi was surprised and elated by a donation of space at the new Atlas Mall, donated to her and her cause by the owner of the mall as well as Joan Stack and Patty O’Connor, who operate “Crazy for Animals,” also located at the Mall. Bobbi and the Strays moved into the Mall in November 2006.

In July of this year alone, Bobbi took in 42 unwanted animals, including 19 from a house in Woodhaven where Animal Control had discovered a slew of animals that the owner, although well-meaning, could not take proper care of. Bobbi was able find homes for 32 of them.

Upon arrival at the shelter, all the animals are examined, receive vaccinations and medical care and are spayed or neutered as needed. Then they all stay until they find homes. Bobbi has a strict adoption policy, too. Anyone who expresses an interest in adopting an animal must complete an extensive application. The home is then checked to be sure that it will be safe and secure for the pet.

Bobbi and the Strays operates solely on donations. They host an annual fundraiser – a Halloween Masquerade Ball. All of the money received is used to feed and take care of the animals that Bobbi rescues.

Anyone visiting her place at Atlas Mall can see that all the animals are well cared for, healthy and content. The store is clean and bright, a perfect temporary home for the animals.

Bobbi doesn't do all this alone. She relies on volunteers, who come in to help feed, walk and clean up after the animals. Andrea, of Dog Grooming by Andrea, has been donating her services to Bobbi for years. Bobbi needs more volunteers, even if only for a few hours, to help with the monumental task of caring for the animals. She also runs a fostering program, where you can take an animal home to foster it until it is adopted.

There are many ways you can help if you love animals. I urge you to visit and volunteer, whether it is time or money. Both will help these animals immensely.

I’m sure I speak for all animals lovers when I say that Bobbi and her volunteers should be applauded for all their hard work and dedication.