A dog and a cat laying next to each other.

Rhode Island Foundation awards $550,000 in grants for 24 animal welfare programs

Uses include low-cost vet care for pets of low-income households, preparing animals for adoption and rehabilitating wildlife

The Rhode Island Foundation is awarding $550,000 in grants to 24 animal welfare programs across the state. The funding will support a range of services including providing reduced-cost veterinary care for pets of low-income households, preparing animals for adoption and rehabilitating injured wildlife.

“Our grants are where the generosity of our donors and the dedication of animal welfare organizations meet,” said Adrian Bonéy, program officer for the Foundation’s Program for Animal Welfare (PAW). “These grants support the care of animals in shelters, underwrite veterinary services and subsidize spay and neuter procedures for pets owned by low-income households, as well as preparing shelter animals for adoption and delivering humane education.” 

Among the organizations receiving grants are Animal Rescue Rhode Island in South Kingstown, Friends of Animals in Need in North Kingstown, PawsWatch in Warwick, the R.I. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in East Providence, the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island in North Kingstown and the Potter League for Animals, which has clinics in East Providence, Middletown and Warwick.

Friends of Animals in Need received $30,000 for its Veterinary Care Assistance Program. The nonprofit provides financial assistance for veterinary care for companion animals whose owners are financially challenged in an effort to prevent pets from being surrendered, abandoned or euthanized. 

“Our goal is to keep people and their beloved pets together. These are people whose pets are an integral part of their family life. In some cases, as with the elderly or widowed, their pets fill an emotional void by providing them with love, companionship, comfort and purpose,” said Russ Shabo, executive director. 

The organization says the COVID-19 crisis and rising prices for basic necessities are making it difficult for many owners to continue caring for their pets. The grant will support services for an estimated 300 animals.  

“With inflation being the highest it’s been in 40 years, these times are like no other for so many of us, especially for those living on fixed incomes.  The cost of groceries, gas and rent are at an all-time high, and with the cost of living out of sight, when a precious pet has medical issues in need of attention, it becomes increasingly more difficult to address them.  These funds will go a long way in helping us be there for people whose pets are an important part of their daily life,” said Shabo.

The R.I. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received $40,000 to support its Hardship Boarding program, which provides free, temporary shelter and medical care for pets of people who lose their homes, are hospitalized or experience another unexpected crisis.

“This relieves the pressure of finding care for their animals so people can focus on getting back on their feet and reuniting with their pet. We are often the last resort for pet owners who lose the ability to care for their pets due to some form of temporary crisis,” said Wayne Kezirian, president.

PawsWatch in Warwick received $40,000 to support medical care, including spay and neutering services and medications; for approximately 460 free-roaming cats as part of its statewide trap, neuter and return program. The organization reports treating more than 1,000 cats at its Community Cat Center medical clinic so far this year.

“The beneficiaries are the stray, feral and abandoned cats and kittens as well as the people in the community who feed and care for the colonies but cannot afford to get them veterinary care. As an added bonus, once the male cats have been neutered; the fighting, yowling at night and other neighborhood nuisance issues subside, creating a better quality of life for all,” said Nancy Pottish, a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.

Also receiving grants are Animal Rescue Rhode Island, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Coyote Smarts, the East Greenwich Animal Protection League, Foster Parrots, Friends of Central Falls Animals, Friends of the Scituate Animal Shelter, Historic New England, Mystic Aquarium, Norman Bird Sanctuary, the Pawtucket Animal Shelter, the Potter League for Animals, the Providence Animal Rescue League, the RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation, Scruffy Paws Animal Rescue, Stand Up for Animals, Ten Lives Cat Rescue, the town of Westerly, Vintage Pet Rescue, the West Place Animal Sanctuary and The Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island.

Comprised of 13 special funds that relate to the humane treatment and protection of animals, PAW enables the Foundation to support the work of animal welfare groups statewide. 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.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $98 million and awarded $76 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities last year. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit

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