Elizabeth Shafiroff: International Animal Rights Champion
While it’s not uncommon for someone to hear a call in their early twenties, some, like Elizabeth Shafiroff, have heard her call for a cause. After 15 years of leading the next generation of animal advocates, Shafiroff, and his more recently formed organization Global Strays, has impacted millions of animals in multiple countries, across three continents. She has no intention of stopping there.
Shafiroff was born and raised in Manhattan. The New York native developed a passion for animal welfare during her final years of college, while attending Baruch College. After graduating, she turned her interest into action and began formulating the unique approach that today helps educate communities about the proper treatment of four-legged friends.
Throughout her career in advocacy and philanthropy, Shafiroff has encouraged new educational programs in various countries. She has traveled throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean, and recently started a program in Liberia, Africa. His non-profit organization now employs a dozen people in the various underserved countries where their presence is felt, but Global Strays remains based in the East End, right here in Southampton.
Global Strays has now created its own educational program, which it teaches all over the world. Embracing the “Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare”, it organizes a series of five workshops for young people from different countries. Young people participate in activities to learn how to take better care of pets, the environment and other people – an initiative that Shafiroff calls “Humane Education”.
The daughter of prolific philanthropists Jean and Marty Shafiroff, Elizabeth says her transition into advocacy and philanthropy has been quite natural and organic. While for the Shafiroffs, animal welfare advocacy is certainly a family affair, Elizabeth considers her actions her own. She has gained the support of many industry players who share her passion for animals, with notable advisors and supporters serving on the Global Strays Advisory Board, such as Georgina Bloomberg.
“At a young age, I felt compelled to take action, and I think there’s a difference between being interested and seeing something, or doing something about it,” Elizabeth says. “I felt a strong desire to do something about the various issues that animals face around the world.
“Even though it wasn’t much,” she continues. “It was a small thing, at first. For me, it was a necessity to live. I don’t feel complete as a person unless I do something to help others.
A testament, one might say, to the number of small things that can turn into a great multinational effort – as well as a testament to its character and commitment.
Founded with a mission to reduce animal suffering, Global Strays facilitates assistance to overseas animal shelters and their surrounding communities who do not have access to services for their pets, including veterinary care and sterilization services for those who otherwise could not afford it. He now plans to do so in the United States in the near future. The organization is known as a crusader against animal abuse, while it is also an arm that inspires others to join the cause.
Elizabeth’s leadership, she recalls, helped many across the East End and throughout her universe of friends and associates to get involved in this admirable mission. And, with the passion with which Elizabeth speaks about the issue, no one is surprised.
“Some people haven’t always had exposure to animals, or their needs in this country or around the world,” she says. “Once someone gets to know the bond between humans and animals, they can very easily become an animal lover. I am really interested in all different types of animals and I introduce love animals to others.
“For the first 22 years of my life, I didn’t have a dog or a cat,” she adds.
That is, until she adopted Rusty, a Shiba-Inu, whom she rescued from a shelter. Now she and her family have several pets, including pit bulls that were rescued from crates at New York Animal Care and Control Centers. They were days, if not hours away from being suppressed.
Last week she adopted a pit bull puppy from the Southampton Animal Shelter.
While originally from New York, Elizabeth first came to the Hamptons when she was 11 years old. She brought her message to the East End which was well received by many who share her passion here. She helps raise critical support and funds for her nonprofit with events and galas, and has one scheduled for Friday, August 26, to be held at NAIA Hamptons at the Capri Hotel.
“We are having our fourth annual East End benefit this year,” she said. “We raise funds here to introduce people to the concept of global animal welfare. It’s a topic not everyone thinks about at first, but a need nonetheless, to support animal welfare, wherever the animal in need is.
“Whether an animal is in need in the East End or in another country, I am a passionate believer that animal welfare is a global issue,” she continues. “Whether in your own garden or elsewhere. There are so many great animal lovers here in the East End and the Hamptons, and we are very happy to share our work with many who live here who might want to get involved.
During her time in the East End, Elizabeth has an affinity for Sag Harbor. She spends time there because she loves the environment, the quaint village and its welcoming features.
“There’s something about Sag Harbor that I find so beautiful, but the same can be said for the whole East End,” she says. “I feel like this town is my favorite place in the East End. It has such charm, with so many great restaurants. I also love Bistro Ete in Watermill, which even serves a ‘course of paws”, where they create an elaborate treat for your pet.
“The East End is such an amazing place to explore, there are some great people to meet, and as I grew up spending time here I saw how it evolved, but it always retained that charm,” she continues. .
Asked about her message to aspiring advocates, in the East End and around the world, the accomplished and renowned champion of animal welfare said:
“If something excites you and it fulfills you, whether it’s helping another person or an animal, do it,” she says. “There are so many ways someone can help. Personally, taking action has been the most fulfilling thing of my life – doing something where you really feel like you’re doing good for others.
“Your opportunity is now,” she continues. “We only have one chance to make a difference today, so start a cause, get involved with an organization, and get involved in any way you can. Dark!”
Visit globalstrays.orgwhere tickets are available for his next reception on August 26. Tickets start at $250, with sponsorships available.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate editor of Dan’s papers.