Zion’s Mission Aims to Give Animals Hope

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 Zion’s Mission, a local nonprofit animal rescue organization, began as a tribute to an inspirational rescue dog.

Sloane Quealy-Miner discovered Zion and her puppies neglected in a yard in Far Rockaway on a cold day in January 2012. Quealy-Miner, who has been involved in animal rescue for at least 12 years, was able to convince the owner to surrender all but two of the dogs—Zion and her puppy, Nya. But she continued to care for them, providing food, water, exercise, shelter and love. In November 2016, Zion tore her ACL, and the owner finally agreed to let Quealy-Miner take the dogs, so Zion could receive proper treatment. It was during that following vet visit that it was discovered Zion had more than just a torn ACL—she had breast cancer. The owner tried to reclaim the dogs, but Quealy-Miner took it to court, and won full custody. It was then discovered that Zion also had stage 3 T-cell lymphoma, an extremely aggressive cancer. Due to the dedication of Quealy-Miner and her husband, Matt Miner, Zion’s story didn’t end in a cold yard in Far Rockaway. With the help of chemotherapy and endless love, Zion lived until August 2019.

Shortly after, Quealy-Miner decided to continue her mission of giving dogs hope of a brighter future, dignity and respect, in Zion’s name. In October 2019, she launched Zion’s Mission Animal Rescue. “I wanted to start a rescue in her honor because I wasn’t sure I could continue rescuing if it wasn’t for her,” Quealy-Miner said. “I had such a strong bond with Zion, and I went through a lot with her and Nya and they exemplify everything about rescue and how important it is to champion the underdogs. They inspired a lot of other rescues and changed minds about pitbulls in the community and by the end of Zion’s life, she had so many fans and so much love. She was something special.”

While Zion’s Mission doesn’t have a physical location, as all of the rescues stay in foster homes, the Miners live in Broad Channel and work heavily with animals in the Rockaway community. The main mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, train, and find loving homes for as many abused, abandoned, neglected and unwanted animals as possible.

Quealy-Miner says they’ll often come across rescues through Animal Care and Control, local vet offices, shelters and people in the community who are willing to surrender their animal. For animals that are up for adoption, they’ll work to rehabilitate and train them before they are given to a potential adoptee to foster until the match proves to be a good fit for full adoption.

However, they also work with owners who may have fallen on hard times and don’t have the financial means to support an animal. “Our goal is not to take anybody’s dog away from them due to a lack of money,” she said. “As long as they’re a responsible owner and they’re providing everything else for the dog in a safe and happy home, we try to assist them with programs, supplies or if the animal needs medical care.” To do all of this, the organization heavily depends on volunteers and donations to provide a good life for the animal.

Zion’s Mission rescues and rehomes dogs, cats and even guinea pigs, but large dogs are their main focus, including sick and older dogs that may be harder to find homes for. “We help mostly large dogs but also have soft spot for senior dogs and dogs who are terminally ill. A lot of our dogs are hospice cases, so we find fosters and we provide for all of their medical care,” Quealy-Miner said.

In addition to Zion and Nya, who was also diagnosed with cancer, Zion’s Mission has helped countless animals in need of medical assistance. One young pitbull, Mack, was rescued from people who were breeding dogs in the Redfern Housing Projects. “He’s in kidney failure and had autoimmune issues his whole life. It seems these dogs have a genetic issue due to irresponsible breeding,” Quealy-Miner said.  Another dog they rescued from the same breeders rang up $16,000 in vet bills and unfortunately died. “He would have died a horrible death had he not been taken out of that situation,” she said. Unfortunately, after a recent animal hospital visit, it was determined that only so much can be done to help Mack. His foster family is now keeping him as comfortable as possible on hospice care. “I shudder to think about the other dogs this guy is breeding. They’re just bought and sold and not thought of as respected, sentient beings as I think of them. Those situations where we’re able to help dogs like that and try to give them the care they need make me happy that we’re doing what we do,” Quealy-Miner said.

Through Zion’s Mission, Quealy-Miner hopes to expand and help as many animals as possible. “Ultimately, we would love to have a physical location to help our animals, but our goal is to do what we’re doing and help as many animals as we can,” she said.

She also does this by sharing the importance of animal rescue and educating people about animals. Working at a school, Quealy-Miner says she often brings rescue dogs to her school for assemblies to help change the stigma surrounding large dogs such as pitbulls and to teach kids about what Zion’s Mission does. The lessons have already made an impact.

“After one assembly, a student came up to me and said there’s a dog in her area that’s not being taken care of. She drew a picture of the dog and the home where it was, so I went, and the person accepted our help. The girl was so happy, I made her a certificate to award her for what she did. You never know when you’re talking to somebody, who you’re going to reach or help, especially with young people. They’re getting in that mindset of treating animals with respect. I would have never thought a student would come up to me and say there was a dog they wanted to help. Things like that or helping a dog find an amazing home fills your tank and helps you continue through some of the other heartbreaks in rescue.”

To help continue Zion’s Mission, whether it’s by signing up to be a volunteer, adopting a rescue animal or making a donation to help cover some of the rescue, training and medical costs, head to www.zionsmission.org

 By Katie McFadden

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