Second Chances

Stand Up For Animals funds behavioral dog training, adoption, and outreach services at the Westerly Animal Shelter


Dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, hamsters, and even the bearded dragons, know that all roads sometimes lead to the Westerly Animal Shelter at 33 Larry Hirsch Lane.

The $2.8 million state-of-the-art building that houses the regional outreach facility, adoption center, and animal shelter was built with funds raised by Stand Up for Animals (SUFA) and opened in 2009. The non-profit organization’s mission is to support the needs of the aforementioned and “promote the health and welfare of lost or abandoned pets and to educate and assist those who care for them.”

Sometimes the pets’ first homes don’t work out because of allergies, their families move, people are too busy, or they were given as gifts and the recipients didn’t want the responsibility of caring for them, SUFA President Lina O’Leary says.

SUFA Executive Director Deb Turrisi adds, “When dogs come in, they really get to know their personalities, and whether they like other animals and small or big children. If a dog is questionable, maybe it’s mouthy … doesn’t have manners, the dog trainers will work with the dogs and teach them the commands (sit, stay, and walk on a leash with Martingale cloth collars) until the animals are ready to be adopted.”

Once they’ve found a home, the new dog owners can work with the trainer to ascertain what the dog has learned and continue its training – for a fee, which ranges from $120 to $200. Before being adopted, all animals have been examined by the shelter veterinarian, vaccinated, micro-chipped, spayed/neutered, and are healthy. Adoption fees: $150 for dogs, $100 for cats, and $25 for small critters.

Deb herself has a dog and two cats, which she adopted last year. She shares, “You forget how much life they bring into the house – whether they’re chasing each other or talking to you.”

For details about pet adoption, volunteering, donating, and upcoming fundraising events, contact SUFA Executive Director Deb Turrisi at 401-580-5312, email, or visit