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NYer Of The Week: Harris Bloom Uses Sense Of Humor To Provide Healthy Future For Animals

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He's a comedian who turns laughs into donations to help the city's pet population. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

Harris Bloom makes people laugh, but what drives him to do comedy is not a laughing matter.

"Stewie was my first dog," he says. "We were playing in Riverside Park, and he sort of strayed a little bit further from me than he usually does, and I remember getting a little bit concerned. When I yelled at him again to come, he bolted. By the time I got up to Riverside Drive, he was in the middle of the street. He was hit by a car.

Stewie died from his injuries. When Harris was ready to own another dog, he experienced the city's animal shelter system for the first time.

"The more I found out about the city's shelter system, the more I was both saddened and outraged," Bloom says. "Sure enough, the shelter, more often than not, will just euthanize the pet because they are so crowded as it is that they are not going to spend the money to vet the animal if they are just going to have no room for it or have it sit in a cage."

Motivated by the needs of these animals seeking homes, Harris decided to help. In 2010, he founded "Stewie to the Rescue." Using his love of stand-up comedy, Harris raises money to help low-income pet owners pay for medical care.

"I call him the Jon Stewart of animal politics," said Esther Koslow of the Shelter Reform Action Committee. "He highlights the insanity of the system, and he gets people's attention."

The money raised goes towards affordable animal care, like one mobile pet van that travels the five boroughs.

"Harris' support has enabled us to, basically, not pass an animal by for lack of funding," said Garo Alexanian, owner of Vet Mobile. "We see about 30 to 40 people per day. We do everything on the truck. It's a full service. Digital x-rays, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, orthopedic surgeries."

"To me, he's family," said Adriana Matos, a dog owner. "Going to a regular vet sometimes is cost prohibitive, which is why a lot of people dump them at the shelter. At least here at the vet van, it's affordable, it's cost effective for us."

So, for using his sense of humor to provide a healthy future for animals, Harris Bloom is our New Yorker of the Week.

Animal Care and Control of New York City released a statement, which read, in part, "AC and C takes in more than 30,000 animals each year and is the only organization in New York City that is required to accept any animal that comes through its doors. We are committed to finding loving homes for as many of them as possible."

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