A CEO matchmaker for pets and owners

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Bideawee provides a safe haven for homeless cats and dogs. Now, Leslie Granger is bringing the century-old animal rescue into the future.


  • Granger considers Bideawee to be her “second family and second home.” Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/PMC via Getty Images

When Leslie Granger was considering the position of President and CEO at Bideawee animal rescue, her husband encouraged her to take the job – on one condition.

“My husband said he was very happy for me, as long as I agreed to no more [animals] for right now. I have to curb my enthusiasm when I fall in love with them all over again,” says Granger, who owns two rescue dogs and three cats.

Bideawee, which means “stay awhile” in Scottish, is one of the nation’s oldest no-kill animal rescues. Granger spent almost seven years at Bideawee in marketing and development before a brief stint away to help reestablish the New York City Opera. In September 2017, Granger returned to Bideawee, an organization she considers to be her “second family and second home.” Now at the helm, she leads staff and over 1000 daily volunteers who put their heart and soul into rehabilitating and caring for animals.

“It’s not just a transaction for us,” explains Granger.

“Typically, Bideawee will take in an animal from a transport. Most recently, [we] did a rescue from Puerto Rico. [The animals] fly in on a plane, then they’re evaluated, spayed, neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and given any kind of surgery they need,” explains Granger. “We really do pride ourselves on the level of care that we give every animal that comes through the door.”

The relationship between pets and their owners is at the core of Bideawee’s ethos. The adoption staff are called “matchmakers,” and “pet parents” can return to the organization for medical services and to visit pet behaviorists on staff throughout their dog or cat’s lifetime.

“We really try to match the personality of a cat or dog that would fit best with a potential adopter. Are they active? Are they couch potatoes? Do they have experience, and are they willing to take an animal that might have quirks?” says Granger.

Bideawee also trains pet therapists to go into schools or airports, where they support people waiting in security lines or for their flight to take off. It’s part of Bideawee’s commitment to the larger New York City community, and to Granger’s goal of moving the organization into the future while staying true to the mission Flora Kibbe, who founded Bideawee in 1903.

Though Kibbe didn’t have the right to vote, she did have the fortitude and insight to create a safe haven for animals, explains Granger.

“Kibbe chose the location because of its proximity to the river [on 38th Street between First Avenue and FDR Drive],” says Granger. “One of the problems [back then] is that when people no longer had use for their horses or dogs, they threw them into the river.”

Kibbe’s legacy is one that Granger is proud to continue into the 21st century.

Says Granger, “I enjoy being able to see the work that we do come to a happily ever after on a daily basis.”

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