The Animal Center Will Be Closing At Year's End: Founder Says 'Mission Accomplished'

Published: December 20, 2017 at 12:00 am


Monica Roberto, founder and president of The Animal Center, who announced earlier this month that the organization will be closing at the end of 2017. (Marleen Cafarelli photo)
Monica Roberto, founder and president of The Animal Center, who announced earlier this month that the organization will be closing at the end of 2017. (Marleen Cafarelli photo)

After more than a decade of dedicated service to the animals and residents of Newtown and surrounding towns, The Animal Center has announced in its December newsletter that the group will close at the end 2017.

The nonprofit organization - consisting entirely of volunteers - has helped save the lives of thousands of cats and dogs through its foster and adoption work, spay/neuter programs, emergency services, food drives, and educational outreach.

Monica Roberto, founder and president of The Animal Center, attributes much of what the group was able to accomplish to the support, compassion, and kindness of the community.

"As I look back on the last 14 years, I'm filled with gratitude for everyone we met on this journey and filled with joy for all the lives saved. It's truly been an honor," Ms Roberto said.

\To quote cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, she adds, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

No case was ever too difficult for The Animal Center, as they took in countless special needs animals and ensured every creature had the opportunity to live, thrive, and find its forever home.

One of the recent rescues was with a small black and white kitten named Lucky, who suffered a severe infection while cold and alone under an apartment dumpster in Danbury.

When a Good Samaritan brought Lucky to a local veterinarian who worked with The Animal Center, the organization was able to help the kitten undergo all the necessary medical procedures to keep it alive.

Lucky may have become blind as a result of her infection, but it was easy to see the kitten never lost her zeal for life and flourished with Newtown resident Angela Thill, who volunteered to be her foster mom.

As a longtime foster, Ms Thill was no stranger to taking in kittens, but the pair became so bonded, Lucky did not have to go far to find that her home was with Ms Thill all along.

When The Animal Center posted its farewell letter on its official Facebook page, Ms Thill wrote of her experience with the group, "As a foster for your program, my family has had the pleasure of loving 25 kittens over the past few years! Each foster baby still has a place in my heart. I will have two foster babies that 'failed' - and they fill my days with love and hugs daily. I thank [The Animal Center] and especially Laura [McHugh, The Animal Center Adoption and Foster Program Manager] for her hard work. Your work has been successful and for that Newtown is better off - today and forever!"

Alongside Ms Thill's comments were dozens of others who sent in an overwhelming outpouring of love, support, and gratitude for the organization. Many even shared their heartwarming personal stories of adopting a pet from The Animal Center and posted photos of their pets, happy in their forever homes.

Ms Roberto insisted in her letter that people should not be sad, and instead should rejoice in knowing the work they were able to accomplish made a difference.

In her letter she writes, "Back in 2004, 100 percent of the animals we helped came from Newtown. After 13 years of targeted spay/neuter and rescue efforts, even as our primary service area has remained Newtown, that percentage has fallen to less than 10 percent consecutively over the last six years. That means for every 100 cats/kittens helped, less than 10 come from Newtown."

She is grateful for what The Animal Center has achieved and understands there will always be work to be done helping end feline homelessness, but feels it is "mission accomplished" for the group.

"The Animal Center achieved its goal, and we accept all the joy and finality this milestone brings. The rescue services provided by The Animal Center are simply not needed as they once were. To that end, we will be winding down our rescue program at year's end," her letter states.

Despite the upcoming closing, The Animal Center will continue to make a positive impact in the lives of local dogs and cats. Its board of directors has chosen to direct its remaining financial assets to supporting the Newtown Animal Control's spaying/neutering work, as well as educational community initiatives, like the "no-declawing" billboards around town.

Ms Roberto says the group anticipates that The Animal Center's Facebook page and website will be up for at least six months to a year to help direct people's inquiries to the proper resources.

For any cat and dog related assistance in Newtown, she recommends contacting the Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Control Center at 203-426-9600.

To read The Animal Center's complete farewell letter, visit facebook.com/TheAnimalCenterInc.

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