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The Agility Community Responds To Hurricane Sandy

Agility competitors find ways to help each other in the face of this tragedy. By Frances Hannan

One of the images that stuck in my mind after the Japanese tsunami in March 2011 was the sight of a blue and yellow A-frame in the midst of all the destruction. It really brought home the fact that agility people and their dogs were impacted by that disaster. Now Mother Nature has paid an equally destructive visit to the NY/NJ area of the USA in the form of Hurricane Sandy. Essentially the entire New Jersey and New York/Long Island shorelines were impacted, and once again agility people are hurting. They have lost their homes, all their personal belongings, and in some cases, their livelihood. They were without power and gas for weeks. Some still have not been reconnected to the grid. Whole neighborhoods are dark because all of the homes are unlivable due to effects of flooding. Many people are unfortunately fighting with insurance companies and mortgage holders, trying to get money now. The scale of the damage means that people could be waiting up to a year to get their homes and lives rebuilt.

The agility community has stepped up to help individuals and local dog shelters. Some agility events in the affected areas were cancelled, but others were able to go ahead. People collected goods at these trials to transport to shelters on Staten Island and Long Island. One person who lost her house in NJ was overjoyed to find that her car had been filled with supplies for her and her dogs after a recent show weekend. A number of clubs have held raffles, and some online sites have been set up to help people participate from afar.

The Jersey Agility Group (JAG) raised over $1500 at their November trial, which was added to $8200 collected online during the month of November and at the November Thanksgiving trial in Springfield, Massachusetts. The money raised was distributed to fifteen people in the NY/NJ area who lost their homes. If you would like to read more about this effort, including letters of thanks from the recipients and a list of prize donors, please go the following website:

The Nutmeg Border Collie Club (NBCC) held a raffle extravaganza at its December trial to benefit two club members who were severely impacted by Sandy. One lost her home completely, and the other is facing major repairs after flooding. There were at least 30 different prizes offered on each day of the three-day trial, including many great gift certificates and raffle baskets. Money was also collected online by PayPal, and people were able to nominate which prize they would like to enter their tickets. The NBCC raised $4800 altogether, including $800 from a 50/50 cash raffle. You can see a list of the raffle prizes that were donated on their website:

I would like to add my personal thanks to the people who selflessly coordinated these huge efforts: Carol Mount, Mary Lou Hanlon, Caroline Biondi, and Jessica Scavetta.

Two raffle baskets that were donated to NBCC by the Westchester Barkery and the Southern NY Chapter of the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF). Photo courtesy of Deb Salerno.
Frances got hooked on agility in 1997 when she started competing with her Border Collies, Jessica and Blaze. Her nine-year-old Border Collie GCH-B Wednesday is very close to MAD and ADCH, and also competes at Elite/Excellent level in other venues. Her young BC FitzRoy is having a blast on course, which is providing much amusement at trials around the Northeast. In her spare time, Frances is a neuroscientist, and college professor, as well as mother to a 12-year-old son. She is also the chair of the health committee of the Border Collie Society of America. She lives in Westchester county, New York, which was also severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, and can be reached by email at


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