Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 04-01-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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4 NO. SMITHFIELD / BLACKSTONE APRIL 1-7, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET NORTH SMITHFIELD – Members of the Friends of the North Smithfield Animal Shelter responded this week after a former volunteer raised concerns about a dog living at the shelter. Cindy Rondeau, president of the Friends of the North Smithfield Animal Shelter, and Nancy Vigneaux, the group's director of volunteers, responded to concerns about Sully, a blind, 13-year-old pitbull terrier. The Valley Breeze published a story about Sully last week after several individu- als, including a former volunteer now living in Oregon, expressed concerns he'd been living at the shelter too long. Vigneaux, who works as a veteri- nary technician at North Smithfield Animal Hospital, said Sully first came to live at the shelter in 2012. She said the group tried at least three times to adopt him out over the years, but he was returned due to behavioral and other issues. "Sully has a history of going in and out of the shelter many times and being brought back because of the behavioral issues that he had or the person couldn't keep him," she explained. "In the end, the volunteers decided to adopt him completely and make him a mascot there because of him going out so many times." Rondeau, who's been involved with the organization since 1978, said Sully is well taken care of and a favorite among town employees and volun- teers. He has a bed in the office, she said, and volunteers come in nightly to let him out after animal control staff goes home for the day. "He gets spoiled. We have to tell them to stop giving him treats," she said. Vigneaux said the group and staff made the decision to stop trying to adopt him out around 2014 after sev- eral failed attempts. At the time, Sully still had his sight, though he lost it about two years later due to a medical condition. Since then, several adoption orga- nizations have made their own efforts to find Sully a home. Bridget Coen, who spoke with The Breeze last month, was volunteering with one of these organizations in 2016 when she began working with Sully, taking him to classes and for walks. Coen and two others said they believed the shelter was setting unrealistic expectations for Sully's new home, making it impos- sible to find him a permanent owner amid concerns about his past behavior or medical needs. The Breeze reached out to the Friends group using their social media page after speaking with Coen, but did not receive a response until after publica- tion of the initial article. Vigneaux responded to the con- cerns this week, saying outside groups and volunteers often don't understand Sully's needs. "A lot of people have come in and said, 'Oh, I can find him a home.' And we've basically said to people, 'This is really not a good idea,'" she said. She and Rondeau also contested the idea it was inhumane to keep a dog at a shelter over a long period of time, saying it's not unusual to find animals living at shelters for several years. "Just about any shelter that I can think of has a mascot. Either a cat that they haven't been able to place or a dog that they've fallen in love with. It's not abuse for him to stay there," she said. Rondeau also responded to allega- tions keeping a dog for many years would be a waste of taxpayer money, explaining that with the exception of building expenses and the salaries of the ACO staff, all of the shelter's expenses are funded by the Friends organization. Last year, she said, the organization had a budget of slightly more than $17,000. "There are no taxpayers' dollars going into those animals at the ani- mal shelter," she said. "All the care of those animals for food, medical care, trips to the vet, help within the community and, many times, repairs to the shelter that we want done are supplied by the Friends of the North Smithfield Animal Shelter." Now that Sully is 13 years old and blind, Vigneaux said they have no plans to place him up for adoption. She said it would be cruel to remove him from the environment he's come to know over the past nine years. He receives special food for a urinary tract issue and has arthritis, but is oth- erwise in good health for his age, she said. "As long as he continues to thrive the way he is, he can stay there as long as he needs to. He's well cared for, and he's well loved," she said. Friends group responds to animal shelter concerns By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Deputy Editor lauren@valleybreeze.com • Parks & Recreation Commission (two positions, three-year terms) – Donald Cox (incumbent) and Robert Gilbert (incumbent) • Parks & Recreation Commission (unexpired three-year term expiring 2023) – no candidates • Planning Board (five-year term) – Anthony Catalano Sr. (incum- bent) • Board of Selectmen (three-year term) – Daniel Keefe (incumbent) and Ryan Chamberland • Board of Selectmen (unexpired three-year term expiring 2022) – Ryan Barry and Tanya Polak ELECTION From Page 2 Friends of the North Smithfield Animal Shelter say SULLY, a blind pit bull ter- rier living at the North Smithfield Animal Shelter, is well cared for and is thriving. ABOUT US The Valley Breeze is a locally owned newspaper Office location: 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite #204, Lincoln, RI 02865 Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Closed weekends and holidays. 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