Defenders of Animals to honor emergency personnel, elected officials for efforts

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Defenders of Animals Inc. will be holding its 20th annual Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil on Aug. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Governor Sprague Mansion, located at 1351 Cranston St. in Cranston.

Barbara Morse Silva of NBC10 will be the emcee, while DJ CARGuy will provide musical entertainment.

New this year will be awards given to several fire and police departments whose personnel have rescued animals from hot cars, ice and fires, and to lawmakers and local officials who have moved vital animal protection measurers.

“Needless to say, we cannot give out awards all at once to all the fire departments throughout the state, so we are starting with Johnston Police Department, Cranston Fire Department and Warwick Fire Deptartment,” said Dennis Tabella of Defenders of Animals.

Johnston Police will be honored for their efforts in rescuing a pair of dogs from cars in parking lots last month, in what were apparently the first cases under the state’s new animal confinement law. The first took place at the Johnston BJ’s Wholesale Club on July 7, while the second took place July 12 at the same location. Arrests were made in both cases, and the animals involved were put in the care of animal shelters and organizations.

Also to be honored are personnel from the Pelham, N.H., Police Department – Master Patrol Officer David G. DeRoche, Patrolman Ronald L. Page, Patrolman Brian E. Barbato and communications specialist Tracy Pelletier.

“They rescued a dog that was being fostered for the West Warwick Animal Shelter. The dog escaped from a foster home in Littleton, Mass., and was lost for seven weeks. What followed was one of the most intense lost dog searches conducted by determined individuals,” Tabella said.

The dog, 14-year-old Brandy, had traveled into New Hampshire. A major effort was undertaken to locate her, using mailings, flyers and online postings in several communities.

“It was a miracle that she was not hit by a car or attacked by a rabid animal. She traveled through all sorts of terrain in and out of traffic, through apple orchards, along commuter rails. It was through the Pelham, N.H., police department, where three police officers were able to use a net on her, that she was captured,” Tabella said.

“I didn’t do it alone. Shannon Napolitano was right there beside me with countless hours, no sleep, no food, sitting back-to-back in the middle of the roads guarding paths to watch for Brandy,” said Lori Rebello Rivard of West Warwick Animal Control. “Dennis and Patricia Tabella of Defenders of Animals spent countless hours doing computer work and mailings, making calls, and were right there with me bringing Brandy to Warwick Animal Hospital.”

Rhode Island State Sen. Dominick J. Ruggerio will also be receiving an award for introducing and seeing through to passage important animal legislation over the last three years, including the animal confinement law that led to the Johnston arrests.

Also receiving awards will be two East Providence City Council members. Ward 3 representative Thomas A. Rose Jr. and assistant mayor and Ward 4 representative Christine A. Rossi are being honored for their commitment to animals and for introducing and supporting the first city or town ordinance in Rhode Island that bans the sale of dogs and cats at a pet store.

“Although we take great pride in our adoption program and helping out when we can with medical bills, our resources have been primarily spent where we feel that we can have the greatest impact on the greatest number of animals, which we believe to be on spaying/neutering, legal and legislative efforts,” Tabella said.

Organizations around the world come together on the third Saturday of August to raise awareness about animal issues. International Homeless Animals’ Day activities often include candlelight vigils, adopt-a-thons, spaying/neutering clinics, microchip clinics, blessings of the animals and heartfelt speeches given by council members, local veterinarians, humane officers and shelter personnel. Other activities include slideshows, rallies, dog walks, open houses, award ceremonies, live music, raffles and games.

“We try to defend the rights of both companion animals and wildlife through education, legal work and legislative activism, and that takes a constant commitment and resources, and it can’t be done consistently without the help of members and volunteers,” Tabella said. “Everyone can help out some way or another. Sometime it’s just a phone call to a legislator regarding important animal protection legislation … Together, we will continue to be a voice for the animals, and continue to demand an end to the suffering these animals face each day.”

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