This year has been active for Defenders of Animals whose mission is to protect the rights of all animals and to be their voice.
On Aug. 18, Defenders held their 22nd annual Humane Heroes Award Ceremony as part of the Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil at the Sprague Mansion in Cranston. The event was moved indoors due to the inclement weather.
“The Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil is about keeping the Rhode Island dog and cat populations down so that cats and dogs will not have to be destroyed or left without homes,” said Dennis Tabella, Director of Defenders of Animals.
“That’s done through spaying/neutering and adopting from local animal shelters. We want people to adopt locally and not buy from pet stores, breeders, or adopt animals from out of state. We have an opportunity to make Rhode Island a no-kill state, but it’s not going to happen unless we can get a handle on these factors.”
Of note this year was the passage of The Research Animal Retirement Act (2018-H 7414, 2018-S 2980). This will require higher education research facilities, upon completion of any research involving a dog or cat, to determine whether the animal is adoptable. If it is, the facility must make reasonable efforts to offer the animal for adoption, instead of euthanizing it. Facilities can work with shelters or agencies that seek adoptive homes for pets.
“These research animals have endured a lifetime of suffering to help us humans lead a healthier and longer life. The least we can do is to provide them with a mechanism for adoption as a small thank you for their suffering in the name of science,” said Representative Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence in a press release). “The least they deserve is a chance at a happy and peaceful end of their life. This legislation will give them that chance.”
The governor has signed into law legislation sponsored by House Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio to ensure that dogs and cats used as test subjects at higher education research facilities in Rhode Island be afforded an opportunity to live out their lives in loving homes.
Similar legislation has been passed in California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada and New York and is presently pending in several other states.
Christine Mariano from MA was the guest speaker, who rescued Tucker, her dog, from a research lab. She explained the transformation of Tucker, a friendly beagle who was adopted after serving as a research animal who had only lived in a cage and with very little human interaction, to a wonderful pet and a member of her family.
Legislators received visits at the State House from a four-legged advocate for the bill from Tucker, when the legislation was heard in House and the Senate committees, and when the bill passed the House in April.
Atwater-Donnelly featured traditional folk music in between speakers and presentations. They have been performing together for 30 years.
Human Heroes Award recipients were: Cathy McElroy of Cranston for her volunteer work; Domingas Gomes of Pawtucket for her volunteer work; Councilman Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr. (Senior Deputy Majority Leader) of Providence in recognition of his legislative efforts, dedication, and steadfast commitment to the concerns of the plight of puppy mill dogs and the welfare of cats and dogs throughout the city of Providence and for his active role in assuring that animal welfare is a priority in the city of Providence; Mayor Paul Heroux of Attleboro for his compassionate leadership in instituting a zero-tolerance policy regarding animals left in motor vehicles during extreme temperatures in the town of Attleboro and educating the public on the vulnerability of animals being left in dangerous situations; Lori Rebello Rivard of Johnston in recognition of her significant and positive impact on the image of the animal control profession and establishing genuine relationships with volunteers while properly enforcing state and local laws. She takes great care in tending to the animals in her charge, providing the compassion and socialization needed for proper placement; Dr. Mark Stamoulis, D.V. M. D.A.C.V.I.M - Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist in recognition of his compassion and generosity and for performing essential services and medical expertise for animals and pet owners in need. His kindnesses have made it possible for many positive outcomes for animals with medical issues.
Also receiving Human Heroes Awards were Steve Popiel, “in recognition of his generosity and remarkable ability to capture in his outstanding photographs the essence of a true visual storyteller and in appreciation of his rare quality of working with people and animals alike whose photos have appeared in the Cranston Herald, Johnston Sun Rise, and Warwick Beacon” and to Meri R. Kennedy who is a Columnist/Reporter for the Cranston Herald, Johnston Sun Rise, and Warwick Beacon for her excellence in reporting the Defenders of Animals events as well as features on animal advocacy throughout the years.
Also recognizing Kennedy and Popiel were Susan Nahabedian Ayrassian of Mayor Allan Fung’s Office with a Citations from the City of Cranston and Rep. Robert Lancia (District 16) who presented both Kennedy and Popiel Citations from the RI House of Representatives.