Tountasakis honored by North Shore Animal League at NYC gala

  • Harris Middle School principal Michael Tountasakis was honored Friday, Nov. 15, with the “Mutt-i-grees Humane Leadership Award” for their embrace and utilization of the program and joint efforts by the student bodies to bridge communities across the country through communication and collaboration. Pictured left is Michael’s wife, Mariea. (Submitted)
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Harris Middle School principal Michael Tountasakis was honored Friday, Nov. 15, with the “Mutt-i-grees Humane Leadership Award” for their embrace and utilization of the program and joint efforts by the student bodies to bridge communities across the country through communication and collaboration. Pictured left is Michael’s wife, Mariea. (Submitted)

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NEW YORK – The North Shore Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization, celebrated its 75th year of lifesaving work at its annual “Get Your Rescue On” Gala Friday, Nov. 15, at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

This year’s event drew attendees from all sectors of New York’s animal-loving community and beyond, including Harris Middle School principal Michael Tountasakis and Ailene Mitchell, principal of MS 88 Peter Rouget School in Brooklyn, who were honored with the “Mutt-i-grees Humane Leadership Award” for their embrace and utilization of the program and joint efforts by the student bodies to bridge communities across the country through communication and collaboration. 

Tountasakis initiated the Mutt-i-grees program at Harris with Ruby, the school’s comfort dog, who began her service in the fall of 2018.

Tountasakis has also created the Harris Animal Rescue Team, or HART, so middle school students may volunteer at Mitchell County Animal Rescue regularly. 

Earlier this year, Harris students, led by Mutt-i-grees Student Ambassador Ian Burleson, partnered with Animal League America on the humane relocation where a group of students prepared 23 animals for transport from Mitchell County to MS 88.

Television and stage actress Kathryn Erbe served as the hostess for the gala, where Good Morning America co-host Lara Spencer was presented the Crystal Collar Award and Corporate Honoree Boehringer Ingelheim was recognized. 

Among the “bold face names” to grace the red carpet, in addition to Beth and Howard Stern, were Radio Legend and 2018 Crystal Collar Honoree Elvis Duran; Impractical Jokers star Joe Gatto; TV personality and comedian, Brian Balthazar; WPIX-11 Anchor Tamsen Fadal; iHeart Radio Personality Maria Milito; iHeart Radio Personality Mo Bounce; ABC News Producer Anthony Morrison; Good Morning America Producer Danielle Librizzo; ABC World News Now Correspondent Will Ganss; WPIX-11 Anchor Dan Mannarino; actress, singer and songwriter Maya Hawke; TV and radio personalities Jenny and Keith Hutt; comedian and life coach and Lisa Lampanelli; TV and film actress Selenis Leyva; NY Jets linebacker Avery Williamson; and musicians Mark Farner’s American Band, among others.