Defenders of Animals to host annual vigil, honor ‘Humane Heroes’

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On Saturday, Aug. 20, Defenders of Animals will hold its annual Humane Heroes Award Ceremony as part of the Homeless Animals Day/Candlelight Vigil at the Governor Sprague Mansion, located at 1351 Cranston St. in Cranston.

The event will be held outdoors – moving indoors in the event of rain – from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“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 on a special day and jump-start new spay/neuter/adoption campaigns while rekindling existing programs in their communities that raise awareness about pet overpopulation,” said Dennia Tabella, director of Defenders of Animals.

The group lobbies on legislative issues, coordinates a pet placement service, offers a low-cost spay and neuter program, and does legal work through the organization’s attorney, Mark B. Morse.

“We can’t do it without the consistent help of members and volunteers,” Tabella said. “We have been fortunate to always have had outstanding and dedicated volunteers.”

The master of ceremonies on Aug. 20 will be John J. Tassoni, a former state senator, president of the Sentinel Group, host at Recovery Radio and of the Common Ground Radio show, and publisher at the Smithfield Times and Common Ground newspaper.

During his tenure in the General Assembly, Tassoni introduced a number of pieces of legislation related to animals that have become law in Rhode Island, including a ban on gas chambers and mandatory spaying and neutering of cats. The ban on the gas chamber and mandatory spay/neuter law was done in conjunction with Cranston state Rep. Charlene Lima, who has also sponsored and passed several pieces of animal-related legislation.

A total of seven awards will be given out at the event to honor individuals and groups for going above and beyond for the sake of all animals.

Honorees include Canine Search and Rescue, Matthew Zarrella, Smith and Agli’s Pot Belly Manor, volunteers Jackie Distefano and Brian Nelson, Warwick Animal Hospital, and the Cranston Historical Society/Governor Sprague Mansion.

Bill Reidy will provide musical entertainment. There is no fee to attend the vigil, and the entire community is encouraged to take part.

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