Whether you want to adopt a dog or cat or if you simply love animals, the perfect place to be this Saturday and Sunday is the Warwick Petco.
There will be around 30 puppies and small dogs Saturday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the ultimate goal that all the rescues get adopted to a forever home.
“We try to finish around 2 [p.m.] on Sunday and get everything packed up by 3:30 usually. But there have been times we’ve stayed until six. If the person is serious about adopting, we stay as long as we need to,” said Willene Colvin, founder of the Save The Animals Rescue Society (STARS) based out of Savannah, Georgia. The Warwick Petco is located at 300 Quaker Lane in the Cowesett Corners Shopping Center.
Colvin is a dedicated animal activist who has spent more than a decade of her life-rescuing dogs and cats from some of the worst circumstances. Colvin and her long-time friend, Jeff Magruder, make a 32-hour round trip from Georgia, to Rhode Island and back to Georgia every month.
“There are just so many puppies this year at kill shelters, on the streets, and in dumpsters,” said Colvin. This is why she is bringing puppies and smaller dogs on this trip, because of the unprecedented number she is finding abandoned.
Kill shelters are animal shelters that euthanize animals once the shelter is filled to capacity, or after an animal has been there for a certain amount of time. Colvin works with shelters in five counties around Georgia in order to get word of drop offs that she can possibly save from imminent death. She says it is her calling to save these animals from being euthanized when there’s no good reason for such an action. More than anything, Colvin wishes to get as many animals as is humanly possible out of these kill shelters and into homes where they’ll be treated right.
Willene partnered with Petco in 2003 and has been teaming up with the company to hold her adoption events ever since.
“It was only about four and a half years ago we started holding events in Rhode Island,” said Willene. She was on an adoption trip with the Atlanta Humane society when she realized that Rhode Island is the perfect place for her rescue dogs to find their forever owners.
“I am just so proud of the people there and how accepting they are. The attitude towards animals is so different than up there than it is down South,” said Colvin.
She said she is deeply angered and saddened by the lack of laws in Southern states that require animals to be spayed or neutered.
“The people up north seem to be more conscious of the need for spay and neuter so as not to have unwanted puppies. But down here it is a never-ending problem,” she said.
When applying for an adoption license in Rhode Island, Willene met a long-time friend in K. Joseph Shekarchi, the Democrat House of Representatives Majority Leader. They have connected so deeply because of their shared passion for helping all animals in need. Shekarchi “adopted Merlin from STARS and continues to support our effort by working on legislation for animal rights, humane treatment, and against animal cruelty,” said Willene.
STARS is very cautious when finding owners to adopt.
“We’re not trying to find the owner the right dog,” says Colvin. “We’re trying to find the right owner for the dog.”
This is her motto and she has never shied away from it. If a potential adopter does not meet her requirements, it is highly unlikely they’ll get the animal. This isn’t because of discrimination of anything malicious. It is because the last thing she want to happen is have the animal fall back into a terrible living condition. This policy has worked quite well for Colvin, as there are countless families and individuals she sees on her visits that bring the animal(s) they adopted from her to show them what a good life they’re living now.
Colvin attests that it is a profoundly rewarding experience.