SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Bells were chiming left and right at Clark Farms Saturday as hundreds of lucky pups found their forever homes during the Always Adopt Super Dog Adoption Day.
In total, 361 dogs from 12 rescue groups from all over New England and the South—one rescue organization came from Houston, Texas, bringing with it 90 dogs, many Hurricane Harvey victims—went to new homes Saturday.
“What we really want to do is give these dogs exposure,” said “Top Dog” Louise Anderson Nicolosi. “They can be in great foster homes or in kennels and people don’t go, people don’t see them.”
Founded in 2013 by Nicolosi, Always Adopt has helped adopt over 3,500 dogs in the last four years. Nicolosi said she founded the organization after watching a disturbing documentary in 2012 about the rates of euthanasia of dogs in high-kill shelters in the South.
“And they were perfectly healthy dogs and puppies,” said Nicolosi, who lives in Charlestown. “I just decided I’ve got to do something about this.”
For Nicolosi, facilitating in the adoption of dogs that otherwise may have been overlooked is the most rewarding aspect of holding the adoption events.
“When you get the really old, one-eyed, three-legged, snaggle-toothed dog that hasn’t got any chance of getting adopted, and he gets adopted—that, to me, absolutely makes it worthwhile,” she said.
The collaboration between the dozen rescue organizations, the hundreds of Always Adopt volunteers, and “everyone else in between” is also a special thing to be a part of, Nicolosi added.
“We can do a little bit on our own,” she said, “but together we can do so much.”
Each of the some 400 dogs up for adoption Saturday had been temperament-tested.
“If you listen,” Nicolosi said, cupping her hand around her ear, “there’s no barking.”
And, sure enough, the only noise—aside from the occasional pup unable to contain the excitement of the day—was from the people in attendance.
Potential adopters traveled from all over to meet the available dogs, with those who had been screened ahead of time allowed first-access to the event. Those pre-screened adopters got what Nicolosi called “the pick of the pups.”
All adoption applications—there were nearly 600 applications handed in for Saturday’s event—were screened by a team of around 30 application coordinators.
A meet-and-greet area outside the venue offered families the chance to chat with one of the 10 trainers on hand.
Throughout the event, potential adopters filtered in and out of the venue. Some brought their own dogs and all were encouraged to bring along family members. The Sargents of Westerly brought along Wyatt.
Wyatt, a special-needs miniature dachshund, was adopted with his sister nearly five years ago through Always Adopt.
“His sister passed away a few months ago so we were looking for a new friend for him today,” said Jesse Sargent, adding that she was surprised by how many dogs there were to choose from.
Adoption events are held bi-annually—in the fall at Clark Farms and in the spring at Balise Toyota in Warwick. Nicolosi said she appreciates the generosity of each location in allowing her to hold the events year-after-year.
It was a good day for the pups available from Animal Rescue Rhode Island (ARRI). All six dogs that attended the event from the South Kingstown-based shelter found families Saturday.
ARRI has participated in every Always Adopt event since its founding.
“To be part of something so phenomenal, with so many animals finding homes, we’re never going to give that up,” ARRI Shelter Manager Jennifer Gebar said, as another bell signaling one more successful adoption rang in the background.
“It’s just an opportunity to come together and bring awareness to an important cause,” she continued, “which is to save lives.”