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Organizers of the new NPAWS group who gathered at the Lymansville VFW on Monday are, from left, Patricia Forsythe, Kelly Burgess, Jean Baldino, Cathy Lanni, Jo-Ann D’Alessandro, Alicia Sansone, and Sandra Iannuccillo. Not pictured are Elizabeth Mainelli and Karen Vaillancourt. The dog’s name is Daisy.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The newly formed North Providence Animal Welfare Society, officially launched over the weekend, will host its first fundraiser this Saturday, Sept. 25, with Best Buddy Bingo at the Lymansville VFW, 354 Fruit Hill Ave.

Cathy Lanni, president of the group along with Vice President/Treasurer Jo-Ann D’Alessandro and Secretary Alicia Sansone, told The North Providence Breeze that this group has a goal of supplementing existing town animal control services by helping in any way it can.

In addition to advocating for a new animal shelter, goals include a trap/neuter/release program, shelter support programs, pet food distribution, community support, and community engagement.

The shelter project continues to creep along, said Lanni, now some five weeks after the old shelter was demolished and “we still don’t have one,” so the goal is to “keep the pressure on town officials.”

Known as NPAWS, the group was formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit last year in part to raise funds to supplement the town’s budget for the new shelter, but also to provide community programs that don’t currently exist.

“Ultimately, supplementing the budget was not an option, so all our resources will go toward the programs that NPAW will offer the community,” said Lanni. “The primary goals are to continue advocating for an adequate shelter, staffing, and services, while supporting residents and helping to keep pets out of the shelter system.”

To help with that goal, NPAWS is planning to launch multiple programs to keep pets with their families and reduce overpopulation. Programs that include distributing pet food supplies to residents in need, helping with veterinary expenses, minimizing stray cat populations, facilitating animal surrenders if needed with the help of reputable rescues, and providing a community engagement program offering educational services are all part of the plan.

“We are a separate entity but are interested in supporting the operations of the animal shelter through volunteer services and fundraising to benefit animals residing in the shelter,” said Lanni.

The bingo benefit starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, with tickets at the door coming at a cost of $30 per seat (must be 18 or older). The entry fee includes pizza, soda, three bingo cards per game for five games, and great door prizes, according to organizers. Extra cards are $10 apiece. Games start at 7 p.m. Seats are limited, so reserve a spot by emailing npawsri@yahoo.com.

Lanni, who has long been at odds with town officials about the pace of shelter replacement in town, said there’s a strong belief among group members that local animal control is lacking in appropriate staffing and services, and it’s difficult for one animal control officer, Ernie Calandra, to do it all. Though they haven’t met with Calandra yet, she said, they intend to, filling him in on how they intend to be a resource to fill in gaps. Organizers want to work alongside the hard-working Calandra to support the shelter’s work, she said, hopefully taking some tasks off his plate by perhaps trapping stray animals or providing certain services. Establishing a volunteer program will help him better do his job, she said.

If people are financially hurting due to the pandemic and feel like they can’t keep their pets, this group will be there to help with basic food, supplies, and medical care to make it easier for them to keep the pets.


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She said they did contact animal control officers and town officials in North Providence and Johnston, which will share the new shelter with Smithfield, to let them know of their existence.

Ultimately, said Lanni, NPAWS wants to be a partner to benefit residents and all pets in town.

For more, visit www.npawsri.org .

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