Grants will help struggling residents with pet-related costs

Grants will help struggling residents with pet-related costs

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Two local communities have received grants from the Rhode Island Foundation to assist pet owners who are struggling financially during the ongoing crisis with various veterinary- and food-related expenses. The towns of North Providence and Cumberland each received $7,500 grants from the foundation’s Program for Animal Welfare.

In North Providence, the funds will go toward a rabies vaccination clinic as well as helping with veterinary care for low- to moderate-income folks and senior citizens, according to grant writer Lisa Andoscia who also wrote the grant for Cumberland. “The town is most grateful for the Rhode Island Foundation animal humane committee for its award,” she said.

According to Chris Barnett, senior public affairs officer at the Rhode Island Foundation, the Program for Animal Welfare funds organizations that promote and provide humane treatment of animals or work more generally on the welfare of animals. Grants are for projects or programs that have a positive impact locally or statewide on animal care, education about the humane treatment of animals and animal welfare in general, he said.

“Thanks to the generous support of more than a dozen donors and the dedication of our grantees, the Program for Animal Welfare is expanding humane education, raising awareness and increasing the quality of animal care in Rhode Island,” he told The Breeze.

“Any time we can provide services or additional services at no cost to the taxpayers, I’m excited,” North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi told The Breeze about the grant. He said there’s no doubt there has been an uptick in the amount of people struggling financially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He said the grant will address the needs of animals and save taxpayers dollars.

He noted that the town does quite a bit of business with Ferguson Animal Hospital in North Providence and is trying to finalize plans to build a new animal shelter. The town’s animal control officer is very excited about the grant, Lombardi added.

In Cumberland, the grant will support a rabies vaccination clinic and provide routine health care for cats and dogs from low-income Cumberland households as well as those in Pawtucket and Central Falls that live along Broad Street, Barnett said. The care may include distemper, de-worming and flea and tick treatments, as well as vaccinations and microchipping.

According to Linda Teel, chief of staff for Mayor Jeffery Mutter, the funding will also help residents with purchasing food for their pets if they can’t afford the expense.

The town of Cumberland’s animal control officers have received an overwhelming number of calls from residents asking for help with free pet food assistance and veterinary routine care, according to the grant application, and the town has depleted its pet food budget for the year.

“We’re thrilled we got the funding,” Teel said. “We definitely wanted to do more with animal welfare. Certainly the pandemic has made that much more obvious that people need some assistance.”

While some folks have been adopting animals during the pandemic, Teel said she’s also heard some sad stories about people in tough financial situations having to give up pets. “People are having to make really hard decisions,” she said.

The grant will allow the town to offset some costs and “alleviate a little bit of that angst” for residents in need, she said.

Teel said they will be putting the program together in the next couple of weeks and will likely work with some local veterinarians.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this,” she said.