Vigil for homeless animals to be held Aug. 18


Defenders of Animals Inc., which began a 40-year journey of caring for and defending the rights of animals in April of 1978, will hold its 22nd annual Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil/Awards ceremony at the Governor Sprague Mansion in Cranston on Saturday, August 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. The ceremony will be held outdoors – moving indoors in the event of rain.

The statewide organization, founded by Dennis Tabella and Patricia A. Tabella, works to defend the rights of both companion animals and wildlife through education, legal and legislative activism.

“We try to encourage Rhode Islanders to adopt from their local municipal and private shelters and not purchase animals from Craigslist, pet stores, or breeders. There are many great animals waiting to be adopted at Rhode Island shelters that need and deserve a second chance. There is an opportunity to control both the cat and dog population in Rhode Island and decrease the chance that these four-legged friends will be destroyed if we adopt Rhode Island shelter pet,” said Dennis Tabella.

The evening will include musical entertainment by Atwater-Donnelly.

“Every performance is surprisingly different and always entertaining, exciting and educational with the award-winning duo Atwater-Donnelly, who provide a unique and thrilling blend of traditional American and Celtic folk music and dance, along with original songs and poetry," said Tabella.

The Rhode Island-based non-profit has endorsed pro-animal legislation on the national, state, and local levels since 1978, and many of its accomplishments will be highlighted during the vigil on the back lawn of the Sprague Mansion in Cranston.

“We want people to take the time to look at the pets that are available at local shelters and seriously consider the older cats and dogs. Those of us that have adopted older pets know that special bond,” said Tabella.

Too many Rhode Islanders have had bad experiences with sick puppies when they have purchased them from pet stores. The old saying is true: “Second hand dogs/cats make first class pets.”

“We have always encouraged pet owners to have their cat and dog spayed/neutered and to make sure that the inoculations, including the rabies shot are up to date,” said Tabella and “If you see abuse or neglect, please report it.”

Defenders of Animals, Inc., supported 11 bills that became law during the 2018 General Assembly session:

House Bill No. 7414 by Lima, Fellela, Winfield, O'Brien, Solomon (Requires educational institutions using dogs or cats for medical research to make animals no longer useful for research available for adoption.); Senate Bill No. 2980 by Ruggerio, Archambault DISPOSITION OF RESEARCH ANIMALS (Requires educational institutions using dogs or cats for medical research to make animals no longer useful for research available for adoption.); House Bill No. 7456 SUB A by Serpa, Shanley, Solomon, McKiernan, O'Brien (Makes changes in the definitions of what constitutes unlawful confinement of any sow during gestation, calf raised for veal or egg-laying hen kept on a farm, and would apply them throughout the chapter accordingly.)

Other bills included: House Bill No. 7045 SUB B BY Serpa, Solomon, Shanley, O'Brien, Shekarchi (Prohibits mistreatment of animals by failing to provide adequate water, shelter or veterinary care; Senate Bill No. 2135 SUB A by Ciccone, Ruggerio (Increases the penalty for repeat convictions for animal cruelty.); House Bill No. 8170 as amended by Nardolillo, Shanley, Canario, Hull, Quattrocchi (Takes away the discretion of the sentencing judge in cases involving persons convicted of, or who entered a plea of nolo contendere to any misdemeanor or felony under the provisions of state law relating to cruelty to animals.); House Bill No. 7986 by Brien, Almeida, Williams, McEntee, Ucci (Requires persons entrusted with an animal's care to report cruelty thereto.); House Bill No. 7641 as amended by Shekarchi, Corvese, O'Brien, Serpa, Winfield (Prohibits the sale of dogs under 8 weeks of age unless approval for sale in writing from a licensed Rhode Island veterinarian with violations subject to imprisonment not to exceed 12 months or $1,000, or both. Pounds and shelters are exempt.)

On the Senate side, Senate Bill No. 2055 SUB A by Lynch Prata, Sosnowski, Coyne, Goodwin, McCaffrey (Defines the term "adequate shelter" where dogs may be kept. It would limit the weight of any dog chain or tether to one-eighth (1/8) of the dog’s total body weight. In addition, it would limit the time dogs may be tethered outdoors.); Senate Bill No. 2133 by Seveney, DiPalma, Coyne, Euer, Calkin HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS (Protects homeless persons in possession of a service animal, as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, from being denied access to any homeless shelter in violation of the ADA or the state or federal Fair Housing Practices Acts.); Senate Bill No. 2777 SUB A by Lombardi (Prohibits the sale of dogs until fully weaned unless approval for sale in writing is obtained from a licensed veterinarian. Violations are punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 12 months or $1,000, or both. Pounds and shelters are exempt.)

Also, a large part of the evening will be award presentations. “Everyone who receives awards has made a positive impact on animals throughout Rhode Island. Awards are given to volunteers, elected officials, police and fire department personnel, and others who have had a positive impact on animals,” said Tabella.

“The Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil is held in conjunction with the International Society for Animal Rights campaign and serves as an opportunity for animal advocates from around Rhode Island to band together.

Defenders of Animals has been working with the West Warwick Angels at the West Warwick Animal Shelter, and has worked with Volunteer Services for Animals, End Puppy Mills RI, the Humane Association of Northwestern RI, the Rescue Freedom Project from California, International Society for Animal Rights, and other organizations both locally and nationally on legislative issues.

“Defenders of Animals, Inc., is dedicated to keeping the issue of dog and cat overpopulation before the public. It’s crucial that Rhode Islanders have their cats and dogs spayed/neutered and support local organizations that work toward keeping the pet population down so that municipal and private shelters do not have to euthanize animal due to overpopulation issues. Defenders of Animals will continue to encourage Rhode Islanders to adopt from their local municipal and private shelters animal shelters and local organizations that are involved in finding homes for Rhode Islander dogs and cats,” said Tabella.

Defenders of Animals also works very closely with the Warwick Animal Hospital regarding medical emergencies with cats and dogs.

“Defenders of Animals believes that Rhode Island can become a no-kill state and have animal shelters that don’t kill healthy or treatable animals even when the shelter is full and reserving euthanasia for terminally ill animals or those considered dangerous to public safety,” said Tabella.” If organizations and local shelters both municipal and private and bring all these dogs into this state from the South, then they can work together and take a dog or cat from another shelter when they are full.”

“Our mission statement is to defend the inalienable rights of both companion animals and wildlife through education, legal and legislative activism, and it is, indeed, a functional mission statement,” said Tabella.

“The success of this annual event happens because of the invaluable help of Greg and Mary Mierka from the Sprague Mansion/Cranston Historical Society,” said Tabella.

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. That’s done through spaying/neutering and adopting from local animal shelters. They want people to adopt locally and not buy from pet stores, breeders, or adopt animals from out of state.

There is no fee to attend the vigil, and the entire RI community is encouraged to attend.

To become involved with Defenders of Animals, contact Dennis Tabella at 461-1922 Defenders of Animals, Inc. or email


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment