Defenders of Animals to host 23rd vigil, award ceremony

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Defenders of Animals Inc. will hold its 23rd annual Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil and awards ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Sprague Mansion in Cranston.

The event will be held outdoors, or indoors in the event of rain. The vigil is held throughout the world on the third Saturday in August. All are invited to participate, and the event – held in cooperation with the International Society for Animal Rights – is free of charge.

“The Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil is about keeping the issue of dog and cat overpopulation before the public and helping to keep 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.

The initiative is partly designed to encourage people to adopt pets from their local municipal shelter or private shelter and local humane organization while discouraging families from purchasing pets from pet stores and off the internet.

It also involves encouraging pet owners to have their companion animals spayed or neutered and microchipped.

“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,” Tabella said. “We have been fortunate to always have had outstanding and dedicated volunteers and legislators that were willing to consider introducing humane legislations both on the state level and local level.”

During the Aug. 17 event, musical entertainment will be provided by Bill Reidy, who has performed throughout New England providing solo acoustic entertainment and tribute shows.

Part of the event will include Human Heroes Awards that will be presented to recipients who have helped animals in various ways.

Defenders of Animals is active legislatively, and during this past General Assembly session its members supported House Bill No. 6043.

Introduced by Cranston Rep. Charlene Lima and cosponsored by Reps. Serpa, Slater, Diaz and Mendez, the bill was recently signed into law by the governor. It provides special protection to public safety canines and horses that are intentionally or maliciously subjected to cruelty, injuries or death by increasing the potential criminal and civil penalties for the offenders. The companion bill, Senate Bill No. 779, was introduced by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin and cosponsored by Sen. Michael McCaffrey.

Another bill supported by the organization was House Bill No. 5023, which expands Family Court jurisdiction to enter protective orders to provide for the safety and welfare of household pets in domestic abuse situations. It was introduced by Rep. William O’Brien and cosponsored by Reps. Williams, Hawkins and Mendez. The companion bill, Senate Bill No. 225, was introduced by Sen. Dominick J. Ruggerio and cosponsored by Sens. Ciccone, Goodwin, Archambault and McCaffrey. The bill was signed into law by the governor.

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