Canine Advocates Of Newtown Disbands After Two Decades
After 20 years of service to the community, Canine Advocates of Newtown, Inc, (CAN) ended on November 21, 2019. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal made the news public at a Board of Selectmen meeting on December 16, 2019.
“When Canine Advocates was incorporated in 1999, our mission was to preserve the lives of all the animals temporarily housed at the Newtown Municipal Shelter, now known as the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center,” CAN Founder/President Virginia Jess detailed in a statement released to The Newtown Bee on February 19.
Ms Jess and her fellow members worked diligently to advertise and socialize the dogs at the shelter in order to help them find their forever homes.
Through CAN’s volunteer program, it was able to offer daily walks for the dogs in the shelter, which was a big win for the animals.
The group also raised money through its membership dues and initiatives, including the annual “Putting On The Dog” wine tasting and silent auction fundraiser. Doing so allowed CAN to provide the shelter with necessary funding for rabies shots as well as spaying and neutering procedures.
“Once CAN accomplished its initial goals, we focused our attention on creating awareness for the need for a new shelter facility,” CAN stated. “Through CAN’s tireless efforts, we raised $250,000 for the new shelter, leading to a most generous $2,000,000 private bequest, which was then augmented by a budgeted $750,000 from the town.”
In addition to monetary support, CAN dedicated time researching other shelter facilities to see what worked and what did not. Members were involved in following the process of acquiring the land and getting the building design approved for the new shelter.
When they day finally came for the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center’s grand opening on July 8, 2012, roughly 70 town officials, supporters, and members of CAN were in attendance to celebrate.
Not only was creating the state-of-the-art building a monumental milestone for the organization, but eliminating the practice of euthanizing adoptable dogs was also an achievement for the group.
“Once the new facility had been built, and the Shelter instituted its own Volunteer Walker Program, CAN suspended its Volunteer Walker Program as of July 1, 2016, and focused on supporting the shelter by continuing to provide funding for obedience and specialized training for the dogs at the shelter, and by providing specialized veterinary care, when needed,” CAN detailed.
Throughout the years, its members maintained an active presence in the community and were part of the Newtown Labor Day Parade, the Great Pootatuck Duck Race, and the town’s yearly Rabies Vaccine Clinic.
Many individuals turned to CAN a resource when they needed help searching for a lost dog, when they wanted to learn more about pet care, and when they had interest in the adoptable dogs and cats available at the shelter.
Caring for the animals in town was always of the utmost importance for CAN.
With many of its goals having been reached, CAN has decided to end after 20 years of service.
Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason told The Newtown Bee on February 21 that she commends the CAN volunteers for their “instrumental” role in bringing the new facility to fruition and appreciated that they could always be counted on for helping with large veterinary bills for animals in need.
“With their help, the quality of life for those dogs improved dramatically. We will be forever grateful for all of their help,” Ms Mason said.
‘A Labor Of Love’
CAN’s legacy of compassion for animals will live on through its many scrapbooks created by CAN historian Judith Caracciolo. The books stand on a wooden shelf in the lobby of the town shelter with a commemorative plaque about CAN hanging on the wall next to it.
The handcrafted pages of the scrapbooks include archived newspaper clippings and photos that highlight the many accomplishments the group made over the years.
Looking back on all who contributed to the success of the group, Ms Jess acknowledges the work of the board members throughout the years, saying, “Luise Lenk was there at the very beginning and helped with the incorporation, designed the website, and served on the board until she moved to Florida; Adria Henderson was there from that first year and was my rock and ‘go-to’ through all these many years; Jane Calverley joined our board and impeccably kept our books all through the years; Phil Vail became a board member shortly afterward and was a loyal supporter; Frank McCloskey joined the board once we began our mission to build a new facility — our very successful “Putting on the Dog” wine tasting fundraisers were his brainstorm — and Trish Wootton joined our board shortly after, bringing new life and ideas.”
CAN’s impact will continue on, as the group has also given a gift of $55,000 to the town, which is designated to be used for extraordinary veterinary care for the shelter animals.
“We thank all those who have supported us through these many years and hope you will continue to support all the animals at the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center of Newtown,” CAN stated. “It has been a labor of love for all of us.”
To view Canine Advocates’ scrapbooks, visit the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Care and Control Center at 3 Old Farm Road. For information about adoptable pets, visit facebook.com/NewtownAnimalControlShelter.