In northern RI and beyond, people are opening hearts – and wallets – to pets in need


BURRILLVILLE/NORTH SMITHFIELD – Americans are opening their hearts, homes, and wallets for cats and dogs and northern Rhode Island is no exception, with shelters reporting a waiting list for pets.

“The demand for pets to adopt has never been greater,” according to David Meyer, chief executive officer of

The Pet Central website notes that 891,482 pets were adopted thus far in 2020, and 54,552 were fostered, which is 17 percent greater than in 2019.

Adoption levels are increasing locally as well. Waiting lists to adopt pets are growing and donations of pet supplies are rising, while about 40 of 50 states are in an extended school spring break to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and prevent hospitals from overcrowding.

Life abruptly and dramatically changed due to the virus, and pets are in high demand. For example, currently the Burrillville the Animal Shelter has no dogs ready to adopt, according to Animal Control Officer Kerry Courtemanche.

The shelter has a waiting list to adopt kittens, Courtemanche said.

In October, Anchor Subaru in North Smithfield held events for the nationwide “Subaru Loves Pets,” month, said Vice President Brian Benoit.

Each dealership chooses their own events, and ordinarily, Anchor Subaru holds pet adoptions on-site through Rhode Island Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, the dealership had to come up with other plans.

Instead, Anchor Subaru donated $100 for every RISPCA adoption during the month of October, ultimately donating for about 40 adoptions.

Another problem caused by COVID-19 restrictions was the impossibility of the Anchor’s annual pet walk-a-thon.

“Normally we do a pet walk,” said Benoit. “A bunch of people show up, donate, and do the walk.”

This year, instead, Benoit said, “we email blasted our customers,” to promote a virtual pet walk-a-thon. Participants purchased a ticket online, took their dogs for a walk, and Anchor Subaru matched donations up to $1,000 for the Blackstone Valley Animal Shelter.

Benoit estimated that between $5,000 and $6,000 was raised by the event. And Anchor Subaru also generated donations of the pet supplies that the Blackstone Valley Animal Shelter was short on.

“We filled a van with supplies such as dog beds, food, and toys,” Benoit said.

On Thursday, Oct. 22, Subaru sponsored “Make A Dog’s Day,” focused on adoption of RISPCA, “underdogs,” said Benoit.

The event focused on, “Dogs harder to adopt, [such as those] older, or with medical or behavioral conditions,” he said.

At that time, RISPCA was caring for four such dogs. Anchor offered anyone adopting one of the dogs on October 22 funding of the adoption, the first couple of veterinarian visits, and at home behavioral visits if needed.

“The result: two of the three dogs were adopted on the 22nd,” said Benoit, sounding pleased.

Animals are getting adopted in Burrillville, too, and people help in other ways.

“Our followers and supporters are extremely generous,” said Courtemanche.

When the shelter announces need for a pet supply, not one or two, but around “eight people will drop something off,” she said. “We have a great community.”

In Burrillville, Courtemanche said there is a, “large population of pet owners and lovers.”

“They see how active we are,” the ACO said, adding “very proactive.”

One activity is trapping and relocating populations of feral cats. What’s more, Courtemanche said, townspeople see the good adoption rate, and know for, “depleted animals,” the, “extent of what we do to make them well,” she said.

Burrillville will, “probably get a significant influx of donations,” as the holiday season arrives, said Courtemanche, one more example of how locals, as well as people across America, are taking care of cats and dogs.

Elsa is an approximately 3-year-old all white female that came in to the Burrillville Animal Shelter pregnant. Her kittens have all been adopted and ACOs are hoping to have her spayed next week so she can find a home of her own.
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