Like a superhero, Chelsea Euliano, 35, often drops everything at a moment’s notice, regardless of where she is or whom she is with. In recent years, the Oceanside resident has become the go-to person to aid animals at all times of day or night.
Along with a network of animal lovers from New York City to the Hamptons, Euliano has donated her time and resources to help wildlife from dogs and cats to squirrels, opossums and even a bald eagle. She works with non-profit organization Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, or WINORR, for specialized cases like swans, hawks and other non-domesticated creatures.
“It’s not to say I have never been scared, but my drive and my passion to help something that can’t help itself outweighs my fears in those moments,” Euliano said.
Euliano has such a keen eye when it comes to living things that she spotted a grasshopper missing a hind leg in 2019. “I always had an eye for it,” Euliano said. “I would see a whole family of ducks and could point out something wrong with one of them.”
For all that she has done for the local wildlife community and our environment, the Oceanside-Island Park Herald proudly names Chelsea Euliano as our Person of the Year 2021.
An Oceanside native, Euliano said she has been an animal lover since she was a child, but earned her wildlife rehabilitation license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation this past spring by passing its online exam. Along with the license, Euliano takes several courses a year to expand her knowledge of species rare to Long Island. This year that included a rabies course through the DEC and a weeklong webinar with many other wildlife rehabilitators in the state.
When called upon to help an animal, Euliano asks for a photo, some background information and the address before packing her net, gloves and cage and heading out. When there, the rehabilitator also makes a point of educating those who call her on how to approach a similar situation in the future. Euliano estimates that she goes through that process hundreds of times a year from dusk until dawn — all on a volunteer basis. She does this while holding down her job as a customer service manager at Blink Voice Communications, where her brother Justin serves as the CEO.
Each time she returns from helping an animal in need, she posts on Facebook to give a description of the encounter and gives a link to donate to rehabilitators and organizations that help nurse the animals back to health.
The locally famous animal expert has even provided assistance for the Nassau County Police Department’s 4th Precinct over the past five years, often being called upon by the department to assist officers in situations in which injured animals are reported in the Oceanside area.
Her most superhero-like story from this year came when she was about to head out to a dinner date and got a call from the 4th Precinct about an opossum that was hit by a car. With great power comes great responsibility, and Euliano set off dressed for a date to aid the animal’s babies, or “joeys,” which were still in the mother’s pouch. Euliano was able to recover the joeys for the police, recommend a rehabilitation site and return home in time for her date.
In one instance over the summer, Euliano was called to the Southern State Parkway by state troopers to aid a goose that was lying in the middle of the busy highway. Euliano extracted a bullet from the goose and got it to Volunteers for Wildlife in Locust Valley for treatment.
It’s no wonder why Euliano’s friends say her life could be a TV show. Euliano joked that maybe a show would help her find a husband.
“Chelsea is our local hero and the most selfless person I have ever met,” Oceanside resident Gilat Nahum told the Herald. “She will jump in murky water to rescue an animal in danger, stop heavy traffic for an injured bird in the road and bravely put her hand in a garbage pail to reach for an opossum.”
Mary Jane Graci runs the Oceanside Moms Facebook page, with over 6,000 members, and raved about Euliano’s work in the community. “Every time anybody needed help when it came to a raccoon, an opossum, a bird, any sort of animal that needed help, she would be the first to respond and lend her help,” Graci said. “And through the years, it just continued to evolve, and I would just now to tag Chelsea. She’s our resident Snow White.”