"Abandoned abused or surrendered animals are no different than traditionally acquired pets."
By Patricia Daddona PBN Staff Writer
Doug Rubinstein is president of the board of directors for the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island, overseeing operations and governance. He also is president and CEO of Douglas & Associates LLC, a consulting firm in Charlestown specializing in marketing and sales management as well as executive coaching, and president and managing partner of Innoverse Labs, LLC of Cheshire, a software development and mobile application firm focused on the hospitality industry. He lives in Charlestown. Here he answers questions about the mission and direction of the animal rescue league.
PBN: What is the primary mission of the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island and how do you meet it?
RUBINSTEIN: We are a no-kill organization committed to the humane welfare and well being of animals in need. We are all about saving the lives of homeless animals and finding them loving homes as well as educating Rhode Islanders on the humane welfare of animals.
No-kill shelters are uncommon. As a no-kill organization, we do not euthanize animals because of time, space, breed or ethically treatable medical or behavioral issues. We nurture these animals and work diligently to find them suitable homes.
This past year, we rescued 375 animals and found them all loving homes. In addition, we conducted classes, projects, events and provided volunteer opportunities educating more than 1,000 people on humane welfare and the well being of animals. Also, this past year, we helped more than 800 families throughout the region with surrenders and adoptions. Lastly, through the generosity of our community, we provided more than 35,000 pet meals to families in need who could not afford to feed their pets.
PBN: How long have you held a charity dog walk and what will the proceeds from the Oct. 4 walk in Narragansett be put toward?
RUBINSTEIN: This is our fourth year of holding our charity dog walk. It is one of several events we hold each year to support our efforts to rescue, care for as well as place abandoned, abused and surrendered animals.
People may not realize we do not receive any town, state or federal funding, so everything we accomplish is as a result of the generosity of our donors and participants in our charitable events. All the money raised goes toward supporting the animals in our care. We also spay, neuter and microchip all our animals. We also provide them medical attention where needed. In addition, we provide a range of animal education programs.
PBN: What is the biggest misconception about rescued animals? What are you doing to educate the public?
RUBINSTEIN: Abandoned abused or surrendered animals are no different than traditionally acquired pets. They want the same love, affection and attention. Some have special needs but they all are filled with the unconditional love, loyalty and personality you would want in a pet.
In our humane education programs and animal advocacy efforts, we stress the need for responsible and respectful pet ownership and teach that rescued animals are no different than conventional pets and can be useful contributors to society. In fact, rescued animals have actually been trained as therapy pets, search and rescue dogs and comfort animals.
PBN: You are building a new facility on the same property as the existing shelter in South Kingstown. Describe the need, how close you are to completion and how are you funding the project.
RUBINSTEIN: I first need to clear up some confusion. We are located on the same road and in the same town as the South Kingstown Animal Shelter. The South Kingstown Animal Shelter is the town pound, not the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island. Technically, the town we are in is Peace Dale. Often we get confused with the town pound.
Our existing shelter was built in 1971 and is not only outdated but has declined beyond repair. In spite of many years of making do, the facility has reached the point where our electrical and heating systems are unreliable. Structural issues due to age have threatened the antiseptic environment needed for care. We lack adequate animal exercise areas, meeting rooms for educations, kennel space and suitable areas for veterinary care.
Moreover, because our priority is to save as many animals as we can, we were forced to rent offices in town for our administrative operations rather than sacrifice that space within the shelter for helping animals.
Forty-three years ago, the designers of the existing shelter could not have anticipated the demands that exist today. In order to meet current animal welfare standards, as well as building and safety codes, a new facility was urgently needed.
In 2013, we launched a $2 million capital campaign to build a new 7,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art shelter on the three-acre donated land on Curtis Corner Road in Peace Dale. Thanks to the generous support of individuals, businesses and foundations, a weather-tight frame and exterior of the building was constructed in the fall of 2013, completing the $1 million Phase One target of our $2 million goal.
We are now in our next phase – one that will deliver the necessary infrastructure, equipment and furnishings to complete the shelter. The shelter will have sophisticated climate control to ensure the health of our animals as well as radiant floor heat for warmth and comfort, among many other features that will benefit the animals in our care. Our goal is to complete the shelter by early spring of 2015, but we will need continued support and donations to reach that goal.
PBN: How many members do you have and what types of outreach are you conducting to boost membership?
RUBINSTEIN: We actually do not have members. Instead, we have approximately 3,000 generous donors who are individuals, businesses and foundations. They support us with donations through our annual fund raising appeals, our newsletters, pet food pantry, raffles and our events such as the “Bark on the Beach” event on Oct. 4. We also conduct our annual Diamond in the Ruff banquet where we announce The Annual Golden Paw Awards presented to people in Rhode Island who have done the most to help animals in that year.
We also hold an annual golf tournament and various other fund raising events with merchants in the community. As I mentioned earlier, we do not receive any town, state or federal funding, so we are completely dependent on the kindness and generosity of our supporters. Everything we are able to accomplish in saving animals’ lives, finding loving homes and educating about animals is all due to our wonderful contributors. In addition to their caring donations, they bring voice and hope to innocent homeless animals. Without them, we could not do what we do!