For as long as she can remember, Annie has been an animal lover. Whether caring for the family pets as a little girl, naming her Dash & Albert Rug Company after her constant canine companions, or taking up horseback riding as an adult with her daughter (also a major fan of four-footers), Annie has always made animals a big part of her life. And having known the incredible joy pets can bring, these days, she makes it a point to give back as often as she can. Here is a run-down on Annie’s favorite animal charities, with links so you can learn more, follow them on social media, make a donation, or even adopt a new friend.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), national
The granddaddy of animal-welfare organizations, the ASPCA was the first in the Western Hemisphere, founded all the way back in 1866 (!). In the nearly 150 years since it first opened its doors, the ASPCA has never deviated from its mission to prevent cruelty to animals by rescuing them from abuse, lobbying for humane laws, offering education, and sharing resources with shelters across the country.
Berkshire Humane Society, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Since 1992, this animal organization, located right in our Massachusetts backyard, has been providing compassionate care, treatment, and forever-home placement of homeless animals. No companion animal is denied—BHS has housed dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and more—and the shelter doesn’t place time limits on an animal’s stay. BHS is also active in community outreach, and we can’t say enough about their educational events. Annie is such a fan that she frequently donates a portion of proceeds from The Outlet @ Pine Cone Hill’s annual Tent Sale and other special events to BHS.
Follow BHS on Facebook.
Don’t Throw Us Away, Boston area, Massachusetts
Annie discovered this unique animal-welfare organization through the stirring documentary Dogs on the Inside, which she saw at this year’s Berkshire International Film Festival. Founded by Michelle D. Riccio, Don’t Throw Us Away seeks to reduce animal overpopulation (and destruction—an estimated 4 million companion animals are euthanized annually) at shelters while also helping to rehabilitate prison inmates. Through the program, inmate handlers live with, care for, exercise, socialize, and train dogs in basic obedience for eight weeks. Not only do these dogs, with their newfound training foundation, have a much better chance at permanent adoption, but the inmates gain skills in the animal-care profession, as well as develop empathy, a sense of responsibility, and purpose, all of which increase their opportunities for finding post-prison employment and reduce the risk of recidivism.
Follow Don’t Throw Us Away on Facebook.
Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter, Pittsfield, MA
This no-kill shelter, also located in our home city of Pittsfield and also on Annie’s annual gift list, has been a champion in helping to reunite lost and stray animals with their owners. In addition, the Sonsini Shelter provides housing and veterinary care for animals in need, and finds them new, loving homes. We especially love perusing their Alumni page, where you can read the happy stories of pets who have found their forever homes, and their Facebook page, which is full of currently adoptable—and incredibly adorable—dogs and cats and recent success stories.
K9s for Warriors, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
When Shari Duval’s son, a veteran K9 police officer, returned from two contractor tours in Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, she wanted to do everything she could to help. Having researched the therapeutic effects of pet companionship, she hit on the idea of offering canine assistance to veterans to aid their effort to return to civilian life with dignity and independence. She established K9s for Warriors with the dual purpose of helping these military heroes and giving a new lease on life to rescue dogs. K9s for Warriors provides training for both the dogs and their new owners. The demand has been so great that the organization currently has a year-long waiting list, but some generous gifts could help expand the program much more quickly.