By JOHN HOWELL
Wayne Kezirian, president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was prepared for the opening of their new home on Plan Way in Warwick Thursday …
Wayne Kezirian, president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was prepared for the opening of their new home on Plan Way in Warwick Thursday evening. The RISPCA staff ordered food for 250. It was just enough.
What he hadn’t planned was the story recounted by Rep. Joseph Solomon, son of the late mayor of Warwick by the same name, and the family dog, Buddy. Buddy, seated between the mayor and his wife Cindy, was a hit in Solomon’s 2020 reelection ads. Just looking at him, you knew he loved his family and they loved him.
So, when Rep. Solomon addressed the audience that swelled out into the street, many knew exactly what he was talking about. Buddy outlived the former mayor and he was comfort to Cindy. But Buddy was a senior citizen by canine calculations, and he died at 13.
Sometime after Buddy died, Joe suggested his mother adopt a dog. Cindy considered the suggestion and together they looked on the RISPCA website. Alfredo, who could have been Buddy’s brother, caught her attention. He looked like be could use some love. He had a scar on his back where RISPCA veterinarians had removed a fatty tumor, and he wore a cone to prevent him from licking it. That wouldn’t happen, not immediately anyway.
Rep. Solomon told the audience someone else had applied to adopt Alfredo and their request was approved. They knew Alfredo would have a home, which was a good thing, but it wasn’t going to be with Cindy.
The best part? The story has a happy ending. As a combination birthday and Mothers Day outing, Joe took Cindy to RISPCA headquarters in Riverside.
When they arrived Cindy learned Alfredo’s adoption hadn’t worked out. They were led to an outdoor meet and greet area where Alfredo made a bee-line for Cindy’s open arms. She knew this was meant to be and inquired when she could take him home. To her surprise and delight, the answer was right now.
Cindy would have brought Alfredo to the ribbon cutting, but the invitation wasn’t specifically extended to pets. She had pictures on her phone that she excitedly shared with guests.
“I love him,” she exclaimed.
It was the kind of story that personifies the work of the RISPCA that was founded in 1870 and unlike other animal rescue organizations has the power to enforce cruelly to animal regulations. The RISPCA is often the first call made when municipalities learn of an animal hoarding situation, illegal dog and cock fights or the 12 horses the agency is seeking to find homes for now. The horses, Kezirian explained Friday, are at a farm, but the farmer doesn’t have the resources to feed or provide the medical care for them. Kezirian estimates it costs the agency $1,000 a month to provide for each of the horses. Ideally, he would like to find homes for all of them.
As Kezirian pointed out in his remarks Thursday, the RISPCA depends entirely on corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and individual donations and does not receive any state or federal funding. Taxpayer dollars do not support their mission.
Nonetheless, state lawmakers strive to assist the RISPCA mission. Senator Matthew LaMountain told the gathering he is supportive of legislation strengthening cruelty to animal laws.
The new RISPCA home is huge, with more than 28,000 square feet of space for perspective adopters to interact with animals (those looking to adopt a dog are required to complete an application first for the purpose of identity and qualification) , clinics, kennels, offices, and even a room for volunteers.
The animals were the main feature at the opening with lines filing past kennels to have dogs push their noses against a hole designed for them to greet visitors. Cats are kept in a separate area with a room where they can play and meet prospective adopters.
Olivia Warburton is the small animal manger. She said during a visit on Saturday that ever since she was a kid she knew she wanted to work with animals. On her 18th birthday – RISPCA volunteers must be 18 or older – she signed up as a volunteer. She kept hoping and one day a job opening came up. She hasn’t regretted the decision.
She had her hands full Saturday between trying to have someone pick up a cat that had a gash and showed signs of neglect and a West Warwick officer who had a cat in a carrier that a couple were fighting over and were threatening each other.
Later she answered the questions of a couple considering adopting a cat. The males, she said are inquisitive and like playing whereas the females will bond with a member of the family. Kittens born to a feral cat will bond with humans up until about six weeks, but if after that they are still in the wild they won’t bond . Cats that have bonded with each other usually only go to a family willing to adopt both of them.
The couple handled a pair of kittens. Might they need to adopt the two of them? Warburton thought not because they had come from a litter of three cats.
It was relaxed and casual Saturday. Visitors were allowed to wander the premises, ask questions and encouraged to fill out an adoption application if that was in their plans. Or, as Ella Simpson was doing as her parents thought of adopting third cat, play with the two felines who loved her attention in the meet and greet room replete with perches to job to, places to hide and toys.